I described this past weekend to a friend as an extended slumber party, and that wasn't far wrong; my friends Karen Olson, Alison Gaylin and I went to Murder 203, and Karen kindly put Alison and me up at her house.
We're no longer as young as we used to be (okay, I am not as young as I used to be -- Karen and Alison are as young as they ever were, and may they always be so), so we didn't stay up very late, and no one's hair color is different today than it was on Friday. But we did spend a lot of time exchanging human interest stories about mutual acquaintances, and telling embarrassing anecdotes about our own adventures.
I found myself talking about an on-again, off-again relationship that ended a few years ago -- and realized that I could no longer remember several key details about where we'd gone and what we'd done, even though at the time those things seemed critically important. The man in question and I didn't part on particularly bad terms, and we're still cordial to each other, but I realized on Saturday night that I have no idea where he is, what he's doing or whom he's seeing, and I'm not even very interested.
Alison asked, "Where does that go?" and I had to admit I didn't know. "People change," I said feebly, but that much, that fast? It's not that the old emotions weren't real, or that I mistook them for something they weren't -- I know that I did feel that way, but can't dredge up even the faintest echo of that feeling, and when I run into this man at professional events (as I sometimes do), he's not much more than a stranger to me. The person I was when I was seeing him is almost a stranger to me as well.
Is this a sign of some dissociative mental illness, or just the normal process of getting on with one's life? Does it only happen after the age of 40?