I sometimes think about how I should have spent more time developing friendships with the people I grew up with. I don’t mean my close friends from high school, I mean the ones that I have known from day care and preschool. I guess now that I am older and I see how these people have grown and changed, I wish I had spent more time keeping in contact with them. To my credit, when I left my hometown fourteen years ago, I was under the impression that I had already spent the first eighteen years of my life with these people, it was time to get away for a while. I look back now and I might have been a bit too harsh about it.
We were all so green to the big wide world. Even though we had all been through some hard times and lost good friends, we didn’t really understand what was in store for us when we left the boundaries of Sicamous. I went off to get a higher education, others went off to get jobs in the oil industry, some stayed at home to raise families but we all have changed so much from who we were when we left.
There are times when I come back to my hometown and sit on one of the old stone picnic tables at Silver Sands Beach Park and look out over the water and remember the days I spent there as a child and later as a teen. I think about how we used to cheer each other on when someone grew the courage to jump off one of the bridges or how we would compete to see who could stay on the logs the longest as we rolled them. Those logs are gone now but the memory of them still remains.
Sometimes, I go back to the ice arena where I spent so many hours learning to skate. The moment I walk in through those double doors on the right hand side, I smell the scent of the ice and it brings me back to watching friends play hockey, to hours spent learning to dance on the ice, and to my first love and how we used to make out in secret while I should have been practising. Out of curiosity, I found that ginger haired boy on social media just to see what kind of a man he grew up to be. He still looks like he did the last time I saw him, maybe with a little less red hair but his smile is the same.
There’s something special about having a hometown to come back to. Even though all of my close friends have moved away, I still feel their presents when I come home. I drive along those old back country lanes and think about how we used to take the long way home just to have those precious minutes together away from our parents. I walk to the cafes we used to hang out and sit with an Italian Soda and remember our silly conversations about boys and who was caught making out with who. We didn’t have a clue about what love really was back then but we sure understood heartbreak and unrequited feelings.
Today, I love being able to see who ended up with who and the families they created. I have been pleasantly surprised by some of them and others, not so much. What I wouldn’t do to hear about how some of those stories played out. Facebook has been great for seeing what people are up to these days. I would like to meet up with some of those people that I didn’t keep up my childhood friendships with but I think that the time for those relationships is long gone.
About a year ago, one of those childhood friends reached out to me in a Facebook message. She said some kind words about what she thinks of what I have been doing with my life. I really appreciated those words and it made me think of all the things I would like to say to all the people I lost touch with. I recently reached out to one of those people to tell him how proud I am of him and what he’s done with his life. I wasn’t sure if he would be receptive to my message but he surprised me by returning the sentiments.
I look at all of these people who I didn’t always get along with as a teen and I can’t help but be proud of all of them. From the ones who started their own businesses, To the ones who work long days in remote places, to the ones in the energy industry, to the ones who became teachers and researchers, to the ones who thrived in professional sports, to the ones who dedicate themselves to raising their children, to those who follow their dreams and travel around the world. I honestly wish them all the best as they strive to make a life for themselves wherever they are now and hope that they look back on our shared childhood in the hometown we grew up in with as much fondness as I do.