Have you ever come face-to-face, quite unexpectedly, with your younger self? I did, a few days ago. A friend of mine emailed a photo she found of a group of us, taken circa 1992, during a picnic in Tagaytay. Some of us are sitting, others leaning, on a fence. We’re laughing and windblown. And maybe because I haven’t seen most of these friends since circa 1992, I suddenly found myself with tears in my eyes.
When I left the Philippines for Canada, the internet was still a brand-new phenomenon, and long-distance dialling an unaffordable luxury. Very few people I knew had email. My friends and I tried to keep in touch the old-fashioned way, but predictably, our correspondence died out after a couple of years.
And so we lost each other. In the intervening years, we all grew up, moved on, made new friends. A few of us have found each other again. But in my mind, we all stayed seventeen, trapped in amber, as it were. This is perhaps a rather unsavoury simile, until you remember that amber is precious, fragrant, and often holds something tiny and perfect in its heart.
Thanks to the new social media, this story has a happy ending. Sending this photo out into cyberspace acted a little bit like a lure at the end of a fishing line. A tentative nibble from me on Facebook, and I recovered a friend I thought I had lost for good.
Finding her couldn’t have come at a better time. Because right now, for the first time in my adult life, I’m finding out what it means to be on my own. Often it seems like there is a whole new me that I need to get to know. And sometimes there are no better people than old friends to help you figure out who you are…because chances are, they’ve held on to some part of you – maybe even the best part – that all this time you thought you’d lost along with them.