I learned some shocking (to me) news this week about someone I thought I knew (or at least sort of understood). Turns out, their life changed in totally unpredictable ways while we were away, and in connection with those changes, their behavior changed drastically as well.
It's like I never even knew them at all. (In fairness, there appear to be many people who feel this way.)
When I've brought this up with friends, many of them have mentioned similar surprising evolutions on the part of their parents or other close family or friends in recent years. The term "mid-life crisis" has come up more than I'd like to admit (Because really? I don't want to think about the definition of mid-life, okay?). Regardless of what you call it, it's just odd and challenging to have to recalibrate your relationships with people when they decide (or are forced) to reboot their lives in a way that is very foreign to your idea of who they are.
At one of our BBQs, a long lost friend reappeared. She'd decided a few years ago to put some distance between us because we were close friends with her ex. But then, out of the blue, she showed up. With a baby! (I'd heard she'd gotten married, but a baby? Wow!) Apparently, enough has changed for her, that she no longer feels any need for distance or avoidance of the ex, which is wonderful for us, as we'd missed her.
In the face of all of these surprising developments, despite my hopes to the contrary, one of my family members continued to behave in annoyingly predictable ways and after 5 years, it was too much. I finally had to double down and legally engage with serious drama that I'd really hoped I could avoid. I suspect this family member viewed this move on my part as a serious change, whereas I simply saw it as the necessary last escalation that I'd been trying so hard to manoeuver around.
People are full of surprises, except when they aren't.
Either way, it's weird to be slowly reintegrating back to our home-based lives and observing the evolutions that happened (or didn't) in our absence. We experienced many things that changed us on our sabbatical year, but it turns out, some of the folks we didn't see in the year (or longer) went through larger transformations.