This past weekend, I had a chance to re-connect with an old friend from High School that I haven't seen in 15 years, save a brief howdie in 1999.
Jason and I literally kept talking until 1:45 in the morning. Talking with him, I began to miss those days, and I couldn't figure it out. On the drive home, it hit me: It was the friendships.
There is something about being in a large cluster of friends everyday without much in the way of formality.
I remember being in a large group of friends in High school group, Jr. High, going to Camp Cedar Crest and hanging out, being crazy, and being free to be goofy with one another.
Dating usually meant you brought someone into your group of friends.
Nobody was really really dating seriously at that time (get real people), so the concept of isolation from one's friends because of a dating relationship was usually a sign of a high maintenance relationship that wasn't going to last summer or college separation.
Talking to Jason, I began to realize that the way he included people was the formation of my current desire to include people in everything I do.
But, most importantly, some of the pain of my arrival to Santa Barbara began to come into focus.
The part I miss most from High School times is the lack of pretense in relationships. The ability to simply be one's self around other people, and not put up an act to keep people from possibly being uncomfortable with so much personal knowledge of each other; Being transparent to friends you could trust implicitly, because you hadn't learned, or needed, to put up guards.
Every year for the past few years, I make a trek up to Stanford around Christmas-time to visit another old friend. I look forward to it all year, but it has always been more than just a chance to unwind. Talking with Jason, the reason became clear: I could be myself. This other friend (now married to a lovely young lady, equally as friendly) is much the same. There is no need to hide, put up barriers, etc. This is someone with whom I can be my silly, goofy self with, and there hasn't been a need to keep them at arm's length. I can be silly, goofy, and vulnerable without having to worry about being hurt.
At a wedding yesterday with Tab, I realized the extent that I had emotionally not allowed her words and actions to affect me, keeping her at arm's reach internally, despite her earnestly seeking me out. Interacting with her at the reception, now armed with this renaissance viewpoint, I think I fell in love with her a little more. I could be in real trouble here. :)
Side note: In talking with Jason I found out I unwittingly embarrassed him at a High School outing in front of a girl he was very interested in at the time. Evidently, it was so thorough that he didn't stand a chance. He can finally laugh about it now. I had no idea. Oops.