26 October 2011

Deja You

So, I went to my 40th high school reunion last week. That meant traveling back to where my wife and I grew up, because we were classmates. (To be precise, we go back to grade school years, but our romance waited until college).

We went to the 30th back in 2001, and I expected this to be like that. Boy, was I wrong.

That time, back in 2001, we were in our late forties, old youngsters. Even with added weight and grayer/lesser hair, the faces and forms were that of our youth. This time, we were verging on sixty, making us young oldsters. In those ten years we were not just a little heavier still, or more bald, or even more wrinkled, we looked less like who we were in the past and more like who will will be in the future.

Now, I could go on about how the fifties are when all our misdeeds show up. Those who had loved the sun or smoked or did both looked far older than others. Lord knows that menopause changes women in all sorts of ways. And some just got a set of genes that put them on the fast track to geezerdom.

But what struck me is that we are done with youth. In some ways that is a bit sad, but in fact it is a great gift. The cliques and claques that were so important back then are gone now. The girls who would never have looked at me forty years ago were delighted to see me this time, and the boys who strutted and smirked now lumbered and smiled.

A tenderness pervaded the place, as we all tried to recognize faces we once adored or feared, cupped our ears against the din of the DJ, adjusted our glasses, or otherwise accommodated our age. No one had any advantage over another. No status or prestige was at stake. For four hours we forgave what we had not already forgot.

We think life a struggle, and in some ways it is - from finding a mate, to finding a job, to climbing the economic ladder as far as we can. But like boxers who finally tire out, we eventually stop punching at life and find ourselves clinging to it just to stand up. The adversary becomes the intimate.

We leaned upon each other that night, remembering our youth and bidding it farewell. We realized these were the only ones left who knew us then, in all our glory and shame. And without words, we fell in love with who we are more than who we were.

1 comment:

Ruth Bruns said...

You nailed it, Fred (as you often do). I had my 50th HS reunion a couple of years ago, and my experiences there -- as well as at my husband's 60th and 64th -- say the effect you are describing continues, and ripens. The older I get, the more precious are the friends of my youth.