I feel like it is a universal truth that we have all had significant childhood friends. For better or for worse they not only helped to shape who we are today, but also how we interact with our friends now. They were our first big break into a social life. They may have taught you how to ride a bike, or helped you (watch your Dad) pitch a tent in your backyard for a camp out, or dressed exactly like you to make like the Olsen Twins and switch places with each other’s families (unsuccessfully).
With the phenomena of Facebook, questions such as “I wonder whatever happened to [insert long lost friend’s name here]” actually have the very real possibility of being answered along with a handy profile picture to determine whether [insert long lost friend’s name here] was ever able to tame that nasty cowlick.
I had such an experience regarding my childhood friend (and first crush), Declan*. The thought crossed my mind one late night, “I wonder whatever happened to…” and I facebooked him. The first Declan on the search engine – which made my life easy, and I was content to know that he looked exactly the same as he had when we were 8 years old; except taller. And that was that.
Or so I thought.
Several weeks later, living in a new big city a few provinces away from home, I decided to grab a coffee before work at the Starbucks across the street, and as I was waiting in line, rating the cuteness of the clerk out of 10, out walked my childhood friend. At least I think I was sure it was him. I was still four people away from the till, and too stunned to say anything. As I finally approached the counter, my first crush walked back out of sight just before I had worked up my nerve to speak. While paying for my Tall Decaf Cinnamon Dolce Latte, I was still too dumbfounded to ask the 7/10 clerk, “Excuse me, was that Declan? The boy I was a sheep with in our Sunday School Christmas Play? Who would wear plaid button up shirts and rocked a mean bowl haircut?” I was certain his answer would be yes. I just knew it had to be.
The next morning I flew back home for Christmas. I swore to myself that as soon as I came back to the Big City, I would go and accomplish this feat of reuniting with this first friend. In my mind’s eye I saw us jovially laughing together over a coffee, or a movie, or some quintessential picnic in a charming park about the coincidence of it all; it was going to be a magical movie-esque moment.
I came back to the Big City on January 3rd. For 17 days I gave myself a new excuse of why I could not go buy a coffee at that Starbucks. I was “too broke” or “too late for work”, or had had “too many calories” for the day already. During this time I had also come upon the information that his family was moving from this Big City on January 20th. I knew I had to make it to that Starbucks before that date, or never.
On January 21st, I went to Starbucks, and I bought myself a Tall Decaf Cinnamon Dolce Latte. Declan was not there, for obvious reasons, but I still wished he would be; by chance. I don’t know what held me back from going until I knew I wouldn’t run into him. I don’t understand because I know I actually wanted it to happen. Maybe it was the fact that if I had gone back knowing already, it would have been a staged reunion, and would have lost its magic. Or maybe deep down I was just afraid to find out that it wasn’t him at all, just some unfortunate look-a-like working at one of the countless Starbucks. I don’t know why I didn’t man up to the task, but I hope that in the future when life hands a similarly uncanny event to me, that I’ll grab it and make the most of it - whatever it may turn out to be.
*not actual name