Our own lost worlds

We went to visit some old friends a couple weekends ago. We hadn’t seen them in an awfully long time. 8 years, by our reckoning.

Over glasses of wine and whiskey we traded stories that wandered back to earlier days. We were single, no kids yet. Apartments in downtown Baltimore. Meeting and dating the people who would become our partners. Getting careers off the ground, one shaky mistake (and, sometimes, lesson) at a time.

At the time I remember how uncertain and scary it all felt; how the world, for all its possibility, seemed so big and lonely. Looking back, now, our neighborhood and circle of friends strike me as an almost adorably small, connected world. Everybody lived within a few miles of one another. We knew the day-to-day, gory details of one another’s lives and hopes and tribulations, recounted over drinks at a local bar or at somebody’s kitchen table.

Now I found myself with my friends again. Their voices were familiar but everything else had changed. Our kids slept in bedrooms just down the hall. Our lives had gotten busier and infinitely more complicated and farther apart. Better, richer, yes, but also with less space.

It’s not that I’m nostalgic, exactly, for the days when I was young and unmoored. It’s just that time passes so quickly, rendering everything that came before as ghostly, translucent, immaterial. Before I can really understand it — understand, maybe, what it all meant to me — it’s reduced to a figment.