That Was Then...

Life is funny.

On Saturday I went to a garage sale and saw a cute little boy that I recognized, but couldn't think of how I might know him. I didn't recognize his mom or the other older couple that appeared to be his grandparents. Then they asked where I live and when I told them, the couple said the mom and her son live here too. So I realized I must know them from the park near our house. Yup. That was that, not all that exciting. Just a cute kid that I remember stood out to me one day at the park because of said cuteness and his obsession with getting tiny rocks out of his crocs.

Now fast forward to this morning when the boys and I are at the park. Oh, look. There's that cute little kid from the garage sale and...well, I guess that must be his daddy sitting under the tree with a tan, good hair and sunglasses. Funny. Small world...

We were the only people at the park for quite some time. And I don't know about anyone else but that can be awkward. For me anyway. I'm not good at warming up to new people and I don't generally go out of my way to do it. But the park makes you kind of have to because if your kiddo hooks up with another kiddo and they become fast friends, you have to be around a stranger-parent while you try to prevent anyone from needing stitches. So it feels even more awkward to NOT talk.

I usually warm up the irritating awkward conversation with something that makes things feel even more silly. Like, "nice day," or some other really profound and interesting statement. Sometimes I'll even throw in a really thought-provoking question like, "what street do you live on?" Anyway, this time I was even more creative and pointed and laughed when cute-little-croc-boy came down the slide and his hair was standing on end in all directions like in science class. Then I realized pointing and laughing might not be that kind. And I didn't want to offend tan-daddy who suddenly said, "Heather??"

That shut me up. "Huh? How does he know my name, he wasn't at the garage sale?"
Wait a second..."It's me (takes off sunglasses), Matt." Oh. Hi. Weird...

Then a million things went through my head in about a millisecond..."oh my I dated you about ten years ago for about five seconds and you chain smoked and loved music as much as I do and we worked together at don pablo's and you took me to tony and tina's wedding and i dressed up as a hershey's kiss cause it was halloween and i won a prize during the play and we laughed a lot and then you just stopped calling me but i don't really care cause it doesn't matter anymore cause here we are in our current lives that have nothing to do with that."

So this wasn't a complete stranger after all. But still a stranger. Because I'm guessing he's not that much of the person he was back then. I know I'm not. But these are the moments that bring you back in time, before family life, and you have to smile at how you share some of the same memories and stories, even though you haven't thought of each other in years.

Now don't get me wrong. This isn't about confusion or heartbreak. That's the thing that's funny. The things that mattered so long ago, just don't. The perspective looking back is so different than what it was while it was lived. People really do change. They really do grow up. Some don't, but I think most do. And that's refreshing.

The guy who at one time was too immature to return my phone calls when he became disinterested has a wife and a son. He played "monster" with Miles and his son for at least a half an hour, chasing them around and "scaring" them. He seemed at peace about being a grown-up. Happy to be at the park with three-year-olds. During breaks from playing monster we talked in short snippits about our current lives. Where Ryan is from, where we've worked (he's a stylist, hence the good hair), how long we've lived here, etc. Never once did we talk about the days when we knew each other. Neither of us brought it up. I don't think that's because it was awkward or painful to do so.

It was because what matters is what we have now.

This is what I mean by each grown-up mom having stories of her own. Things that have made her who she is. Little moments in time of knowing all kinds of different people. Memories and experiences that have helped shape her into the person she has become.

Sometimes running smack dab into a person from your past is good because you know that even if it wasn't pretty at the time, it takes on a whole new meaning somewhere along the way. The drama it was then simply doesn't matter. The only part of it that matters is that it's a part of who you are. Even if there was pain, it turns to good as it shapes you into a more wise and loving person.

The boys and I left the park at nearly the same moment as Matt and his son were leaving. When people would normally offer that we should get our kids together, we didn't. We just said goodbye after Matt smirked and said, "random, huh?" Random. Maybe, maybe not. But a good dose of perspective all the same.

Life is funny.

5 clicked right here to comment:

Sabrina said...

Very good insight. Although i still like to avoid my "pasts" like the plague. And yes i meant to pluralize past. :)

heather said...

I hear you, sweet lady. I definitely avoid the more long-lived drama folks. I only dated the one from this post for a few months. But I wonder if I wouldn't feel just the same as I did today (as in feeling nothing), even if I ran into one of those truly awful past memories (you know, the three-year-relationship-gone-wrong variety)? hmmmm.... I would like to think I would feel the same as I did today but I don't want to expirement. Is that how you spell that?....I suddenly forgot...

Kimberly said...

What an amazing, eye-opening, and yes...random experience to have. And an odd coincidence that lead to it too.

I'm not so good at letting go of the past and focusing on the joy of the present. It's something I'm really working at though.

Great insights!

Andrew Clarke said...

That story intrigues me - I can see why you shared in on your blog. I can't quite match that one, but this DID happen to me. I now live in Australia. Years ago we lived in England, in a smallish town - and I've met three people from that same town, since living in Australia. Fact is stranger than fiction. Perhaps things from the past come back to show us that the past really IS the past, and it doesn't have to be such a big thing to us. Perhaps? Guess I'm still figuring that out myself. Blessings.

Elle said...

That is amazing - and very, very cool. I love moments like that - the sense it gives you that where you are is just about right. Thanks for sharing.

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