Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The 5-Year Reunion, Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

Five years ago, concluded...


SUNDAY

Usually I hate showers, but the “surprise” baby shower that we threw Megan on Sunday morning (compromised in the wake of Kara spilling the beans in an inebriated state the night before) was nice. Low-key.  Megan and Jonathan got some great stuff.

And wow.  They're having a baby.

Everyone's life is so different now...

I thought I would be taking Kathryn to the airport, but Kathryn hadn’t gotten a chance to talk much with Marissa, so she went off with her…and Crystal left to spend her last night in Memphis with Amber…and Kara got into her car and headed back to Indiana…  Megan and Jonathan left and I drove back to my place to do laundry and clean up…

It took me a couple of hours to cry myself out.

*****

I know it’s my fault.  With everything so unfinished, so up in the air, I’ve just felt like I’ve been…searching for something lately.

More so than I even want to admit to myself, I’d been looking forward to reunion weekend.  I remember college as the happiest time of my life, and happy is something I’ve been unsure of lately. I thought…I don’t know.  I thought things would be different by now.  For months, I’ve known that my dearest and closest friends were going to be in town, and I was banking on us picking up where we left off.  The nearer to the time we got, the more desperately I began wanting an escape from the present.  Anything to get me back to way things used to be – even if just for a few days.

I wanted answers.  And if I couldn’t have answers, I wanted to recreate the past.

But how could any class reunion possibly live up to that?

*****

On my drive to work the following Monday morning, I had a flash of memory from senior year:  the Pike Beach Party.  A yellow Speedo.  A strong arm grabbing the back of Kara's head and pulling her toward him...

Forever seared into the recesses of my brain is the glowing vision of [a guy] in a black tank top and yellow Speedo, leaving nothing to the imagination.  I saw him as Kara and I approached and could sense the wrongness in the air.  He unfortunately caught sight of us too, and after not so much as a glance at me, he bellowed, “KARA!”

Trying desperately to get past him with Kara in tow, you can only imagine my horror when, after some minor chitchat, he reached his hand out to grab Kara, who was a good arm’s length away.  With his hand around the back of her head, he pulled her in and planted one on her.  It wasn’t a kiss of passion, but it wasn’t a peck either.

I could do nothing but stand there and hope to God that this was some after-effect of the crappy beer we had stolen from the Pike cooler...

Obviously, I had to call Kara after work and remind her of that story.  After I hung up, I sat down and started to read what that quote came from:  the (very unpublished) memoir I wrote about my junior and senior years of college.  I hadn't picked it up in probably three years.  And for good reason.  It’s a rambling 200 pages of me talking about how we split up cleaning duties and thinking every guy in school was in love with me.  I get embarrassed just thinking about them.

But that night, as I was reading, I started to think that the part about the Pike Beach Party maybe wasn't quite as awfully written as I remembered.  By the time I got to Rites of Spring, I'd cracked open a beer and settled in for the long haul.  And by the time a former crush of mine was leaning over to talk to me at the Lit concert, I was in such a state of suspense that I screamed out loud in frustration when his girlfriend shoved her way between us before he could say anything.  AHH!!!

Apparently that time in my life wasn’t anything like the golden glory days I remember.  There were some good times, but there were some really shitty ones too, starting with me moping over a jackass with a girlfriend for more pages than was necessary or seemly.  And I have amazing friends, but being around each other that much in such close quarters back then led to quite a bit of friction.
No wonder we didn’t snap back into perfect harmony as we took up every square inch of living space in my apartment.  We never did work well without our personal space.

Being together, the gang finally back in place, there were brief, flashing moments when it felt like no time had passed.  We stepped back onto campus and it was as if we’d all just been there the day before.

But through most of the weekend, what I primarily felt was the years we’d been apart.  And it wasn’t so much that we’d all changed – it was more that we hadn’t.  What separates us right now is not our morphing personalities, but our divergent life experiences.  We’ve done a lot of living in the past five years.  Where we once all shared the major commonality that the school we lived and worked in was the biggest part of our lives, now we all have different priorities.  School, relationships, both, neither.

Those times when we weren't reminiscing, it was impossible to overlook the ways in which we can’t always relate to each other now, something that’s frustrating to comprehend when we’re all otherwise unchanged.

And as I continued to read my memoir (by day two, I was rushing home on my lunch break to read as much as I could before going back to work; I’m not sure how to explain that my own past, as written by me, had me in such a state of suspense that I couldn’t stop reading, but there you go), I started to regret that I had skipped to the middle instead of starting at the beginning and reading all the way through.

I especially regretted it when I got to the end, flipped back to the start, and saw this staring back at me in the very first paragraph:

Becky, if you’re reading this in the future, remember that you never wasted your time at Rhodes…

Never wasted my time at Rhodes?

Well, what do you know?  The 22-year-old version of me, whom I now think back on with such confusion (was I happy back then? or just lame?), wound up being the missing piece I’d been looking for all along.  She alone had the power to put things in perspective for the 27-year-old me, and she prefaced it by stating flat-out that she predicted the day would come when I’d need to hear from her.

I feel there’s a clich├ęd ending to every reunion story, and that’s that by the end it, the reunion attendees – the Romys and Michelles of the world – come to the conclusion that regardless of what they’re doing now, they’re secure in who they are.

But that is not the conclusion to this particular story.

My ending didn’t come at the reunion itself, but rather when I took the step of literally revisiting my college self.  And my lesson wasn’t so much in how to shed my insecurities (though I am going to start working on them) but in the simple fact that it’s no good to either glorify the past or condemn it.

The past is just the past.  Life is just life.  It always has its ups and downs.

And likewise, there’s little point in worrying too much about the future.

All I’ve got, all any of us have, is now.

And right now, I need to pull it together a little more and stop complaining so damn much.

I’m okay.

Onward we go…

2 comments:

  1. uhoh... I feel so bad for not being here for weeks or not commenting ... life has put me in a terror wheel of some kind. I just wanted you to know i haven't forgotten you my friend, i am just a bad friend and selfish with my spare time which i am using to sleep for 90%.

    sending hugs and love from germany
    annie

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    1. Not reading my extremely selfish blog, in which I do nothing but talk about myself, in no way makes you selfish. :)

      Thank you for checking in!! Always good to hear from you, though I'm sorry to hear that life is in chaos for you. :-/ Take care of yourself!! I hope things get better for you. Hugs, my friend!!!

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