I try to live my life in the present as much as possible. Too often looking at the past can bring up a lot of pain, anger, shame. At least for me. Even with having cleaned up much of it.

But then there are times where looking back can bring nothing but complete and utter joy, laughter, compassion and gratitude.

On New Years Eve I was looking at Facebook pictures, seeing what friends were doing, how they were celebrating, who they were kissing,  when a name came up on my news feed in the “People You Might Know” section.

It was a name and face of someone I didn’t really know (let’s be honest, we use that word so casually but knowing a person’s name and face does not qualify as knowing a person). But this person was someone who I remembered from the past.

We both grew up in Los Angeles and went to all the same schools but since he was a few years older we were never in the same school at the same time. But, if you grew up in this town in the 80’s and lived in the same neighborhood everyone kinda overlapped. You went to the same parties, the same clubs, the same fast food stands, even the same beaches in the summer. And names and faces mingled and mixed even if you were a few years apart.

Well, at one of these parties, and at the not so sweet young age of 14, I crossed paths with this guy. I was drunk, he was drunk and we literally bumped into each other and, well, kissed. You know, ’cause that’s what you did at these parties and, like I said, we were drunk. We didn’t exchange names, numbers or even goodbye’s. We just both shared this kiss and then drifted in different directions at the party.

The end.

But I always remembered him because when you’re 14 years old you remember every boy who kisses you. Especially if it was a great kiss.

So, there I was on New Years eve looking at this person and I thought, what the hell, send a request.

He accepted.

We started talking and talking and talking… there is something so amazing about talking to someone who grew up in the same place at the same time in the same way as you did. You remember the music, the fashion, the hangouts, the couples, the break-ups, the deaths… the time.

The time.

We reminisced about the way Westwood village looked when we hung out there. The high school parties that were notorious for the lack of supervision and the abundance of drugs. We shared stories of the concerts we went to, the clubs we sneaked into and the reckless, wild, world we ran in.

And, best of all, we survived it. All of it. The drugs, alcohol, car accidents, heartbreaks. We survived.

In talking to him I felt more in love with my past then I ever had before. And something else… I fell in love with that 14 year old girl who I had always been so hard on. The girl who was so insecure. So full of secrets. So confused with all that was going on in her little world. She was already drinking and smoking pot. Already bumming cigarettes off people. Already kissing older boys.

And she was beautiful.

I can see that today. Beautiful. Alive. Dancing to Duran Duran, running around town with her girlfriends, being a teenager of the times.

A different time. A brilliant time.

Looking back with this man has helped me see everything again. See it fresh. See it new. See it together.

A sweet, unexpected, delightful present… for the present.

(this column was originally posted January 27, 2014)