A couple of months ago, I tried reconnecting with a friend I had met at the teenage ministry where I served as both teacher and teenager. In one of the long vacation camps, I had met this lady, a quick talker and a brilliant leader. She was equally as spiritually minded as I was then. These days, I am far from spiritual.
This friend and I were hoping on gaining admission into the university, to pursue whatever dreams we had. I was drawn by her petite nature and energy. She seemed to have an extra pack of strength and she had opinions too.
At the weekly meetings of leaders, she knew what to say and spoke like someone you’d look at and say she’d make a lot of people proud in the nearest future. Time passed and we lost touch but she was the kind of person you could see her face in all of the faces that wore the kind of smiles that she had. When someone laughed, she was the one. I spoke with a couple of mutual friends and I was given her number. I was going to be reconnected with an old friend – a buddy, someone who had some fire and spark. Maybe we could sit out and talk about the teenage days and how we have grown and have achieved some of what we had planned to achieve.
I was excited. I put a call through and held my breath.
I could recognise the voice that said ‘hello.’ It did not change much but it was that of a stranger who did not know the person that was on the other end of the line. It was a blank response that she gave and I held myself, she would scream down the house once she discovers that I am the one on the phone, I reassured myself. With a bit of delay to give my announcement its needed lift, I announced my identity and waited for the excitement to begin but it did not come. I had to share bits of our memory, something I had planned to bring up in the middle of the conversation, to extend the talk, to remake the past so it would live again. There was the realisation of course; that I was Vincent, the teenager who had a sense of humour and who was a leader but there was nothing more. But it didn’t sink. Maybe she was in a bad mood.
This was me, Vincent, the buddy, the one that would spend about four hours with her on the phone almost every day, early in the morning, discussing many things, from church events to young people’s fantasies, to the many tasks that we had as teenage leaders. I called the second time and it became obvious that she had changed, that our memory of whatever we had as friends were individually owned and while I had polished mine, she had left her to the dust and did not care what had become of it.
I was not going to let her go, to not have that friend who could talk about anything. I placed the last call and I was scolded. I could have returned the scolding but I realised at that moment that a lot fashions us into what we have become. School, life and friends reshape us. We may once in a while giggle at some fond memories but walking out of it is triumph for others and a lost for many more like me. But people change and we have to understand this and take it seriously and live happily.