For all of you “How I Met Your Mother” fans out there, the term “graduation goggles” should definitely ring a bell. For anyone who is not an avid HIMYM fan, it was Robin’s (one of the main characters) idea that people tend to remember the past as better than it actually was. We tend to ignore, or ‘forget’ the negative aspects of an event or period of time, and instead focus on the rosy, fun, ‘good’ times. Not entirely unlike the term “beer goggles” (when someone who is drinking sees others as more attractive than they actually are), the symbolism of goggles to alter our ‘vision’ in some way seems to be a prevalent theme nowadays. But is recalling only the best parts of something really such a bad thing? Flipping through some old photos today, I’m having a difficult time answering that question.
The one that caught my eye shows the entire group as a whole. Every face is familiar and we all look happy. Arms are slung casually around each other and we are squished together clumsily, the mass of everyone seeming to engulf a single stand-up table in front of us. The expressions on faces reveal more than just moods; I look at the picture and see everyone’s personalities on display, see each person’s distinct role in the group dynamic. We are out together, just as we were every weekend. For two nights a week, we had an unspoken understanding that any stress or problems were put on hold at those times; everyone was friends and everyone got along- even if it was just for a night.
I remember sharing stories with people at home about the group. We did everything together, and if you saw one of us, there were sure to be a handful of others not too far behind. I was told over and over again how lucky I was to have stumbled upon this big, happy, family.
It was good for a long time; perhaps I had been spoiled because of it. But like any other family, complications would show up sooner or later. When things did start to unravel, the back of my mind knew better, but I chose to hold out hope; I was in denial. I had thought it would pass, fruitlessly trying to convince myself it’s just a matter of time before things got back to normal; back to how they had been such a short while ago.
The pieces fell apart slowly, gradually chipping away at our foundation, despite the occasional attempt to fit them back together again. I was well aware things couldn’t stay the same forever, but as with any other good thing, seeing it end was still a loss. Three years later, it would take hours (and a lot of charts and graphs) to fully explain the intricacies of the group; to explain what had happened and how things ended up as they have.
Occasionally I will see someone out and about, and I am reminded that the dissolution of the group was not entirely bad. I learned a lot in that year; about myself, about love and hate and competition and jealousy; about growing up. I put the picture back in it’s frame. Because despite all the bad parts, I don’t need “graduation goggles” to help me remember that it really had been great- even if just for a while.