It’s been a whole that we’ve met, I couldn’t say how long it’s been exactly. She still looks the way she used to, yet somehow very different. More grown up, I guess, but barely older. There’s the slightest hint of fine wrinkles around her mouth and nose, which makes her resemble her mother quite a bit. Most of all, though, the change is reflected in her eyes. They lost that excited, youthful sparkle they used to radiate back when we used to go out together. They seem more subdued, hardened.
Separation, pain, disappointment – those and other emotions left their traces in that face I used to envy her so much for.
I secretly envied her for her beautifully curved lips, her long lashes, and for how stunning she looked when her mouth widened in a captivating expression of laughter that went from ear to ear and up to the tip of her nose, revealing perfectly shaped teeth, an image of joy framed by tender, dark hair.
We catch up on the past couple of years, reminisce about the past, but she doesn’t gift me her marvelous smile during our conversation, the smile that I have always remembered her by. I notice how I miss that smile, and I notice that she is no longer the person I have remembered all those years.
There is an unbridgeable, unspoken gap between us. The longer we talk, the more distant we seem. I wonder if she also grapples with that feeling of lost closeness, with the sadness that comes with the realization that we were almost like sisters once, yet life seems to have made us strangers. Maybe we should not have met up to preserve the images we held of each other our hearts. Too late for that.
This is a reality check gone wrong.
“You’ve changed, somehow”, she suddenly says, and I feel caught, probably because she has voiced my exact thoughts.
I guess that makes one thing we agree on.
The truth is, our lives could not be more different.
She lives in a suburb, I live in a big city.
She’s planning her marriage, I’m planning my career.
She’s driving a car, I prefer public transport.
She reads novels, I’m into non-fiction audiobooks.
She’s getting annoyed, and I’m stubbornly protesting.
It feels like two worlds are colliding. I wonder, has it always been this way, was I just somehow blind to the differences because I focused so much on what we had in common?
I guess she’s right.
I have changed.
She has changed.
Change often happens in such tiny increments that we are oblivious to how much we evolve until we meet someone we haven’t seen in years, look at old photos or read letters of bygone days that suddenly reflect a person that no longer exists.
Am I the same woman that I was 10 years ago?
And what about her? She isn’t, either.
I don’t dare to ask her if she feels the same, and if that is the reason she doesn’t show me her beautiful smile? I reach for the bond that once bound us and grasp only thin air.
We are strangers. It is clear that she also expected someone else. Instead, she’s sitting here with me.
“You’ve changed so much.” Her statement has an accusatory undertone, and more than a hint of disappointment.
But don’t we all change with time?
Yes, I’ve changed.
But in stark contrast to almost everyone else, my change is documented in countless texts and images, archived on the internet.
I am no longer the Masha who started to blog 10 years ago. The lovesickness, the parties, the anger – they are part of my biography – but so much has happened since. With growing experience and understanding of the world my opinions and my approach to live have changed. I have changed.
I used to love flying, today I try to avoid it if I can.
I used to love salami, now I’m a vegetarian.
I used to enjoy loud music, now I’m more into tender stuff.
I used to look up to Chiara Ferragni, now I’m looking up to Elon Musk.
I used to enjoy following every latest trend, and to interpret it my way, these days I have settled on a style.
I used to want it all, now I prefer to share as much as I can.
I used to crave success, now I’m looking for a purpose.
Not only is it possible that opinions and outlooks change as time goes by, it’s actually a natural and important process. We all gather experience in life, we have interesting, invigorating exchanges, and ideally we are open to perspectives that broaden our own. That’s the stuff growth is made from. For that reason it doesn’t matter that much who we were, what really counts is who we are, here and now. And this understanding should render us capable of affording others the space to change and to reinvent themselves as well. It’s a much more powerful stance than defending our old positions, or judging others for their pasts. Openness to change is a profoundly positive quality.
Let’s look at from another angle:
Why do we resist it so much when we’re being convinced of something? Why do we defend old positions we no longer really identify with? Why is it so hard to change, to admit to ourselves that we have made mistakes? Why do we have such trouble being wrong instead of being thankful when we have the opportunity to learn something new? Why are we so resistant to change on the whole, and why is it so difficult to apologize when we’ve made mistakes as a result of that resistance? We all know that humans make mistakes, right? Why don’t we look at ourselves more kindly then, why can we at best forgive others, but hardly ever ourselves?
These are my thoughts and feelings, as I look at the face in a mirror, as I take stock of that distorted image of my former self looking back at me. This distance between us…
do I feel it because she reminds me of everything I no longer am?
At some point we say our goodbyes and go our separate ways. Before we parted, she smiled at me in that beautiful way I remember her by, one last time. I don’t think we’ll meet again in this life. But then again, never say never.