Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Streetlights people

I met up with some old friends I haven't seen in a while last week. A bunch of former coworkers getting together 10+ years after leaving the same soul-sucking marketing agency. A "survivor's reunion" if you will. 

I almost didn't go. It was an interruption in my boring, but comfortable, daily routine. And it was an hour's drive away. But I went. And I'm so glad I did. It was good to get out and be around good people. (In small doses at short intervals of course. Let's not get carried away here, I'd still rather sit home and watch sports by myself.) 

The get-together served as a nice reminder of who I used to be and where I am now. Those four years more than a decade ago taught me so much about myself and the world around me. I learned what to do, what not to do, who I wanted to be, and who I never want to be again. Bottom line: I wouldn't change a thing. 

The conversations were fresh and energetic. The kind of discussions you have with faces you haven't seen in way too long. And even though those faces were a bit more worn, especially by the last three years, it felt like I'd seen some of these people just yesterday. Life changes, but for the most part, it stays the same. 

About an hour into bouncing around and shooting the shit with as many people as possible, I got the chance to catch up with one of my favorite introverted overthinkers from yesteryear. We used to walk around the pond behind the office building at lunch and talk about the frustrations of the work day, and how every day seemed to be a little harder for those of us with beautifully broken brains. In one of our therapy strolls we discovered a shared awareness of a curious happening — street lights that seemingly shut off when we walked by. Not all the time, and not every light, but it happened enough to notice. 

Was it coincidence? Probably. But how many times can something happen and still be a coincidence? Did we have special powers? Probably not. But maybe we had a unique aura with transcendental abilities? Or maybe we didn't. Whatever it was, it was a little creepy. But also pretty cool. And knowing somebody else experienced this same strangeness made me feel less weird about my inability to feel normal. 

The night flew by and more old friends I wouldn't see for another five years headed back to their current lives. A few of us stragglers stayed behind but ran out of things to talk about, so the conversations felt a bit more forced. The talk shifted from "Holy shit, remember that time?!", to the score of the basketball game on the tv behind the bar. As my introverted overthinking friend was leaving she asked if the street lights still turned off for me. I told her I hadn't really noticed lately. And then I thought about it — maybe I hadn't noticed because I haven't been paying attention. A noisy head never gets out of its own way long enough to fully engage in all the cool strangeness and sudden serendipity all around us, all the time. 

So thank you, friend with the beautifully broken brain, I appreciate the reminder to pay more attention to what might not always be right in front of me. And thank you, cohorts from an often crappy place to work, for still being who you used to be. Life goes by fast. Gotta stop and take a look back now and then to remember where you ended up. 

Oh, and thanks to the handful of you who asked about my blog. The fact that a few of you said you actually enjoy reading it hit me right in the feels and made me want to write a new post. So here you go. (Insert heart emoji here.)  

I appreciate all of you and I'm grateful for that time in my life. See you next time. 

And don't forget to keep an eye on the street lights. They might be trying to tell you something. 

Or not. 


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