Two months ago I received an invitation to my five-year high school reunion. I threw it away immediately. I didn’t even look at the date or the schedule of reunion events—something about a parade, something else about a bar. I saw a picture of four guys I never cared for pointing at a sign that read CLASS OF 2007. What I wanted to throw away was the idea that five years ago I was a high school senior. Stinky! Stinky! Stinky!
I can’t decide whether 2007 seems impossibly long ago or impossibly not-very-long ago. Somehow it’s both, in that funny perspectival way of conflicting emotions. So much has happened in the intervening years that I shudder to think how old I felt at eighteen. Perhaps I really was old, and now I’m simply older. Or, perhaps age is a function of foreshortened time, hard lessons learned and losing battles fought, that taken together bring about a general resignation to a growing number of things, the exhaustion of which just makes us feel old. I don’t imagine I’ll be sure for another five years, or maybe five years after that.
Part of my hesitation about my impending reunion, I told myself, has to do with an aversion to conversations with near-perfect strangers that begin, “So…what are you up to these days?” This is a well-known opening act for the better-known headliner, “Well I’ve been…” from whoever it is I’m stuck talking to. Perhaps I’d be more inclined to participate if I were living abroad, or the star of my own TV show, or a mule running used paperbacks to Kandahar. Living at home and looking for jobs don’t quite seem schmoozeworthy.
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