D.R.: A fleeting reunion
The tequila tasted a lot better now.
No barfing all over the College of the Redwoods campus just when I thought I got the girl. No ugly hangover the next morning.
Nope. No hangover. No girl, neither. Of course, I wasn’t exactly looking. Things change in a quarter of a century.
But if high school reunions are all about getting reacquainted with these strangers who once shared classrooms and angst we each mistook for only our own, seeing college friends again, well, these folks you still know even if you haven’t seen them in a few years.
And the tequila’s a lot better.
Sure, we’ve lived whole lives away from each other. Had children and careers. Ups and downs. We’re heavier, grayer, wrinklier, wealthier. We’re highly conscious of becoming our parents, at least from the standpoint of realizing we now stand on their side of the college divide.
It’s especially so with my own son headed in a month or so to begin his college experience, at about the same age as we were when we met. When the tequila had an aftertaste approximating kerosene, and if you drank too much, well. …
We met at Andi and Steve’s house in Truckee, atop the Sierra off I-80 a half-hour north of Lake Tahoe. My dorm roommate Tim; Andrea, who introduced my wife, Mary, and I to each other a few years after CR, in Santa Barbara; Pam, our high-flying exec jetting in from somewhere, who shared a house in Eureka with me and Donal, missing (and missed) from this gathering; Steve, Andrea’s roommate in Santa Barbara who became her husband soon after Mary and I wed; and J.B., who I had not seen since my last semester at CR in 1980 but who remains in close contact with the others.
These are sisters and brothers, loved ones, even if I’m too far-flung to make the annual reunions at one campground or another in Central California on up. This is part of the price of career stops in Illinois, Michigan, New York, Colorado. At least Colorado makes this a possibility, although our early start to the school year has made these special September weekends prohibitive with the kids’ cross-country team competitions and classwork, along with having a spouse who works as a school nurse.
Mary couldn’t come this time either, in mid-May. Too close to school ending. She was covering for a colleague on leave, and our son, Ben, was graduating in a couple of weeks. Just too much. And that was too bad. Unlike the prospect of a high school reunion, she knows these folks. She’s owes one of them her life as she knows it, for better or for worse. Sometimes I’m afraid to ask.
I had some extra time after company meetings in Reno this year. I mentioned this, thinking it would be great to get together with Andi and Steve, who live just up the hill from town. It grew into a party a few e-mail flurries later. Awesome.
The others have stayed close. Rogers, alas, might write and run a shop engaged in the business of communicating, but he ain’t real great about staying in touch.
I mean, I love these people. They live daily in my memories and I’m damn proud to know them. I’m just too busy to talk with ’em much. Of course, I’m also terrible with my parents and sister and other relations. Never mind friends from other eras and places. So much going on here and now. I know that’s a weak excuse.
The weekend in Truckee a couple of months ago was all the sweeter for its fleeting nature. All those memories, upwelling fromtheir hidden places in the passage of time since then. And how utterly comfortable I felt with my old friends.
We didn’t do much. Didn’t need to. Stayed up late, although not all that late. Drank beer and Pam’s special tequila, but not all that much. At least not compared to the bad old days.
Lots of talking and joking, of course. Some hiking. Looking at pictures. Reminiscing. Catching up.
Heaven was sitting around the fire outside, moon near full, taking those last tugs from the black bottle. Gone too soon. But so smooth and easy and warm.