July 2 is the birthday of the girl I was best friends with in seventh grade. We grew apart during the first year of high school, and I don’t know that I’ve thought much about her since then. But when I looked at today’s date, she was the first thing that popped into my head.
February 22 is the birthday of the girl I was best friends with in fifth grade. We stayed friends through the first year of college, but drifted apart after she moved south for school and then decided to get married. I have thought about her since then and even went so far as to Google her once, but I don’t have any interest in getting in touch. Mostly I just wanted the internet to tell me that she’d had some semblance of a happy ending. But, still, she’s my first association with that date, even if I haven’t wished her birthday greetings since we were teenagers.
Dates feel a little bit haunted by ghosts for me. Not ethereal beings, but ghosts of my past.
It’s the same way where I glimpse someone on Metro or on the street and think, “That’s so-and-so.” But it’s not. They kind of resemble how so-and-so looked 15 years ago. But in my mind, they’re frozen in time.
In my mind, I didn’t think of a grown up Holly today — one who probably looks now a good deal like her mother did at the time we knew each other and who has a job and responsibilities and possibly a family. Instead I thought of a frizzily permed, braces-wearing, soap-opera-watching middle schooler.
Maybe no one else finds this weird. Facebook, after all, offers you the opportunity to wish birthday greetings to everyone you’ve ever met, which suggests that it’s something a lot of people are interested in. Maybe that normalizes it, makes it just another to-do item on your daily list, helps to remind you that every day is a special anniversary to someone, to lots of someones, in fact.
Maybe it’s the nature of growing older. As you age, you have more of a past to visit with. In the same way it’s easy to get lost going through a box of old mementos or snapshots, it’s easy to open a door in your mind and opt to revisit a day or a person from time gone by.
July 2 and February 22 not one of those important dates circled in red on my mental calendar the way July 7 or September 14 or October 21 or March 23 are. But there is still a faint pencil trace around it to remind me that there’s a ghost in need of a glimmer of my thought. And maybe it’s okay with me if on my special anniversaries other people have a glimmer for the ghosts who used to be me.