- race bicycles
- grow older
Is that it? Pretty much. But chill out, it's not a contest. You're attending this thing to reunite. To remember. Wow, remember college? What a life. What a way of life. So few worries. So much learning. So dynamic: busy all day, mentally and physically hyper-stimulated, incredible teachers, incredible peers, massive array of activities to choose from, never enough sleep, never caught up, broke as can be, but what a rich life! So simple. So sheltered.
Self conscious -- what are we doing? Those days are over. Grow up, alumni. That fleeting magic of college is gone...right? Spending a weekend drinking cheap beer for old times sake, and repeating the same three-minute summary of "what I've been up to the last five years" isn't going to bring it back. Or won't it? Can't we re-kindle those embers, albeit only for a weekend? What about my friends? Those hundreds of friends I gathered throughout college? The ones I shared real experiences and real connections with, but have since been reduced to the occasional status update or tagged photo. The ones I'd study with until the middle of the night, or who'd join me for brunch on Sundays. The ones who'd attend chamber music concerts, and then argue about the meaning of art with me. The ones who I'd meet at 4AM at the track to figure out (once and for all this time) who can run a mile faster. The ones who I'd see only rarely, and only at two AM, on the back porch of a house party, smoking cigarettes. Will they still be the same? Or will they have morphed into older, lamer, richer, less idealistic, fatter, married, pregnant versions of their former selves? Oh the nerves.
Like most things in life, the beginning was awkward. All those old faces! Look there's Jack! There's Maggie! There's Stephen! I want to know what he does now! I want to hear how her life is going! But it's overwhelming. Too many people to catch up with. Too little time. Sure it was great hearing how John is an air traffic controller, and that Beth is a day trader, but I end up talking to Dylan for nearly half an hour -- more words than we'd exchanged throughout our entire four years of college combined! We didn't share much then, and don't share much now...why the hell did we do that? Awkwardness? Politeness? Because we're "real adults" now? We talked about the weather for crying out loud! What a waste. I threw out my voice the first night, shouting, over and over again to loose acquaintances in a crowded bar, the fact that "yeah, I'm still racing bicycles." By the end of the night I feel schmoozed out -- but that's all it was. Schmoozing. Lots of schmoozing.
Then, on Saturday, the dam of my current self burst, and gave way to the man I was in college. I released my desire to have a token exchange with everyone I used to be friends with, and instead just enjoyed being at a party, surrounded by my friends. I mostly talked with those I was closest to, and so did everyone else. The old dynamics, resurfacing, ossifying. By the end of the night, if I saw an old friend, a glance across the room was enough to satisfy me. A moment of eye-contact that said: yes, our friendship was real, and our times together were special, and I'm happy to see that you're alive and well -- but a glance will have to do for now. And that's when the magic of college came roaring back to life. Albeit only for a weekend.