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Great expectations. Fulfilled?

2008-11-29 - 11:32 a.m.

Facebook strikes again! This week I heard from a fellow that I’d “dated” in junior high. Why the quotes? Because we dated in a very junior-high way: he, or maybe even his friend on behalf of him, asked me if I wanted to “go with” him; I said yes; we talked on the phone a lot; we saw each other on a couple of weekends and held hands; he decided we should break up, but didn’t have the nerve to actually say it so we essentially played Hangman until I uttered the word for him. I dragged it out too, just because I thought he was being ridiculous and so felt he deserved a little torture.

He was a fairly average, metal-music and jean-jacket-loving, small-town guy. During high school we had some mutual friends and found ourselves at the same events from time to time. He dated a girl I was tight with. We even ended up kissing one night at a party – more, I suspect, because we never had when we were dating and there was a sense of unfinished business there. We had a very public argument over something I can’t even remember and I ended up nailing him with a richly-deserved right hook in front of everybody. Twice. It took awhile but eventually we buried the hatchet again and I remember sharing a mickey of something at the post-prom party and reminiscing. While this may sound like our lives were intertwined, really, they weren’t. We drifted in and out of each other’s circles of contact with only these few events to mention as notable.

Never in a million years would I have guessed where he is now: he’s a pastor/missionary living in Mexico where he and his wife run a church and Christian café.

Here’s the kicker: he says he remembers me as “a person who loved life” and “a great example”, and went on to further explain that I “seemed freer to be who [I was] and not too concerned about what people thought about it.” He also said that he remembers me as a very moral person, and that I told him, in grade 7 (well, he was in grade 7 – I was an older woman and in grade 8), that he was “ruled by public opinion” and that it stuck with him all these years.

Huh.

First of all, I’m kind of intrigued (though not entirely surprised – I’ve never been known for pulling punches) that I would say such a thing straight out to someone back when I was in junior high, and second of all, that it would stick with him for over 20 years and form the core of his memories of me. Second, I have been musing lately on the expectations we had of our grown-up selves, and that other people had of us, when we were young and whether we fulfilled them, went beyond them, or just flat-out changed so radically that it’s hard to imagine ever having had them. This whole exchange was like my musings made concrete.

I don’t know if I am who this fellow would have expected me to become. I would never, ever, have guessed the path his life took. I would like to think, however, that the adult I am still has those qualities he saw in me: moral, and independent, and someone who loves life. I know for a fact that in the intervening years there were times that I did not fit that description, but I’d like to think that that’s the true me and has emerged again in the “adult” me, if for no other reason than I’d like to be that kind of example to my kids.

What about you guys? Are you who you thought you'd be? Are you better? Worse? Or have your expectations just changed so you no longer think it was realistic to think you'd be Mrs. Bo Duke by now? Just, you know, as an example. Not that I thought that or anything.

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