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I was finally able to extract a bunch of data from an old hard drive. I was sure it contained old writings, school projects and music but what I forgot about were endless amounts of photos. It was basically a 10 year old time capsule of every shenanigan from early college on through the days at Sony and Warped Tour. Lesson learned- I’ve already made several backups of the data.

It was truly wild looking back at so many things that I had forgotten. My mind is always focused ahead, or not even on reality at all- backwards is a direction I rarely travel.

When I first started going through the photos I was really excited, like I had found personal, priceless buried treasure. I couldn’t believe the different parties, travels, special occasions and absurd shit that we were able to get away with. It became compulsive to see what was next, my afternoon ruined until I reached the end of all 7,000+ pictures.

The more I reminisced, the more melancholic I became. Lost youth, lost inhibitions, lost friendships, lost memories, and lot of lost love. While almost all of the photos themselves were of nothing but complete joie de vivre, they now somehow represented holes and failures. A little bit of guilt attached to each face for allowing the relationship to fade. A little bit of failure for not living my life as full and rich with friendships as I once had.

I suppose that’s growing up though, right? High school, college, and mid twenties were spent with friends. Friends were your family before each of us slowly starting pealing off with significant others and children of our own. I don’t have a wife or a child, but I’m guilty of the same abandonment- choosing another mountain or adventure to conquer rather than finding the same contentment in friendship.

A few of my friends, unmarried or unadventurous, had to have been considerably hurt by this. We all thought we were blood- piss and vinegar brothers and sisters there for each other in the saddest moments, the drunkest mistakes, the scariest commitments, and the most free and wild moments of our lives. Then gone. An occasional Facebook “like”. There’s no malice, no crux of contempt, but a lingering doubt of being forgotten. Being sacrificed for another deemed more important.

Some may call it evolution, growth, or reinvention. Perpetual motion of change to justify why we hurt someone’s feelings. We never sat them down and explained why we needed to chase the clouds or have someone to hold onto at night, we just faded.

The girlfriends really tore me up. I couldn’t look at any of them without feeling like everything was my fault. Not that it was, or that we should have been together forever, or that they even wanted that of me- but rather just holding back. I never tried. I didn’t give any of them my all, a true and honest effort to be the best I could be for them. I had my chance to do that, one I’ll never get again, and I didn’t. I regret not telling them how beautiful they were, how special and unique each one was to me, and how lucky I was to become significant to them, if even for a moment.

None of these relationships were perfect, but as I’ve come to realize and understand, no relationship will ever be perfect. I wish I would have embraced the faults, or simply overlooked them, rather than allowing them to fester. I’m not saying this with longing for any of these relationships back, however the regret comes when they run across old photos of me. I wish their memories were of passion, new experiences, and butterflies rather than compartmentalized commitment, trepidation, and insecurity.

History is written by the victor and everyone is the hero in their own story. However, regardless of how these women treated me and their emotional maturity at the time, even in any shortcomings and infidelities, I know in my heart that I could have done better by them. I suppose that’s the lesson. Only one relationship is suppose to last and eventually all will come to an end- how do you want to be remembered when they look through old photos and find you? What are you going to do to ensure you’re the hero in someone else’s story?