Wednesday, June 5, 2013


You know that thing people always say if they haven’t seen your baby for a while? “Oh my god, he’s changed soooo much”?

And you think: “really? I hadn’t noticed.” Because you haven’t, because it’s tough trying to keep track of the continual, gradual changes occurring in your offspring. But then, because it’s been pointed out, you do notice, and you spend a little while thinking about how the baby used to be?

Last weekend I spent an evening with a person who I hadn’t seen in eight years. Eight years! That’s more than a quarter of my whole life. Ages. Too long, actually, because the person in question is a great person to spend time with. Interesting, intelligent and amusing. The downside is he lives in America, and I can’t just pop to Seattle to meet him for a pint and a chat.

*shakes fist at the Atlantic*

The one thing an eight year gap does do though is provide a good opportunity to look back over what’s happened during that time. Which, aided by a few alcoholic beverages, was exactly what me, him and a few other people I went to school with but no longer see much of did. Just like the parent who doesn’t see the changes in their child, the evening made me realise that I don’t do a great job of seeing and appreciating the scale of the changes in my own life.
When my friend was last in the UK he spent a few nights at my house. Except it wasn’t. I still lived at home. We spent evenings drinking (far too much, probably) with some mutual friends, including my wife. Only she wasn’t my wife. She wasn’t even officially my girlfriend. I probably complained to him about the job I was made redundant from over two years ago. This time I told him I don’t like the job I have now. I was still too busy acting like a child to give much thought to having one of my own, now I can barely remember what my life was like without Cam.

We talked about him, we talked about me, we talked about the other people at the table and we talked about the many people who couldn’t be there. We talked about what they were doing, where they lived, which of them had kids and how many. We reminisced about the last time he’d been with us, and we reminisced about reminiscing about the time before, a further eight years back.

He has swapped playing in bands, working as a chef and all night drinking for climbing mountains, teaching others to climb mountains and training to be a teacher for children with special needs. I have a wife and child.

No matter how much our lives might change over time, no matter that we might not always be paying a suitable amount of attention to what’s different, we stay the same person. Just like the baby who hasn’t been seen for a few weeks.
Someone even managed a bit of beer fuelled insight toward the end of the evening: “none of us have changed, really. We’ve just grown beards.”
It was great to see you Dan, I hope you’re right that it won’t be another eight years before we see you again.


  1. When I started in year two - Mrs Robinson's class - at primary school she asked me to look after a new girl who had just moved to our village. Rachel sat beside me and we immediately decided we liked each other because we could both sit on the ends of our hair.

    That was 25 years ago this September. In that time she's lived in America for five years, we've both lived in London, but at different points, we've not lived in the same village since we were eight but we're still friends.

    We meet up every two or three years. It's like we still live next door :-)

  2. This is so true. I'm only nineteen but when I was younger I lived in America.
    I left America when I was eleven and in February several of my friends I had been at school with there managed to meet up. We'd all changed so much but despite not having seen one another for almost a decade still got on so well!

    Emily x -

  3. I don't think we spend enough time reflecting like this, always interested in moving forward as quickly as possible. It's amazing how much our children change in a few months and I love looking back and seeing the differences. But we've also changed a huge amount and I'm not sure we give ourselves credit for that.