Back in the time in which my friends and I were known as college students we used to gather upon special occasions. Mind you that in those days we were spread out far and wide and very few of us understood that we were living through a special occasion.
The gang as we collectively referred to ourselves then and now was a mixed group of boys and girls who had known each other for a while. Many of us had met in elementary school or junior high. By the time our university lives began we had the benefit of years of friendship together. We had seen the first loves come and go, witnessed more than a few life cycle events and used those things to build the foundation of the friendships that we still share.
Since we found ourselves scattered across the country we looked towards the holidays as a time when we could reconnect in person. As I sit here typing on my computer I find myself smiling at the memories, if for no other reason than the recollection that we had few of the modern conveniences to use.
It is funny, none of us feels old but in some ways we are. We didn’t have blogs, Facebook or Twitter to use as a way to stay in touch. As undergrads email was limited to those of us who were scientists. Long distance telephone charges were a serious concern that we monitored closely and cellphones were a dream that we referred to as a “car phone.” And those car phones were expensive and the province of some of our parents.
Holidays became valued not only for the chance to come home and see our parents but for the opportunity to reconnect with the gang. I suppose that I was naive but I always thought that eventually everyone would move back home and that holidays would be just one of many occasions upon which we’d see each other.
But life happened. Some of us died, others got married to the men/women they met in school and ended up in places other than home. And then life, oh sweet life happened in more ways and children came. And the coming of children created new bonds, broke old ones and forced more changes than most of us would have anticipated.
And now those of us who live in the same city still fight to find time to see each other. Busy lives mean that holidays still serve as moments when we set aside our concerns and spent time together.
In a few hours a group of us are going to reconvene and turn back the hands of time for a bit. Some of the gang have come back home for the holiday and so we’ll gather those who can make it and do what we can to catch up.
It is an impromptu gathering so my own family is busy which is good and bad. I won’t get to show off my kids in person but the upside is that I’ll be able to focus on the conversations I do have. I’ll get to sit back and watch my friends play mom and dad. I’ll hold a new baby or two and admire how big the others have gotten.
Some of us will talk about Bar and Bat Mitzvah’s that are approaching with light speed. We’ll compare notes about dealing with the challenges of parenting and ask ourselves how we got sucked into the private school morass.
At some point there will be a moment when I’ll look up and realize that we have split up into groups of men and women. I’ll look around and listen as the guys talk about our stuff and eavesdrop for a moment on the girls.
I’ll smile as I enjoy the time with them now because I always do. But I’d be lying if I said that I won’t think back to moments long ago when we chased each other on the beach. Days gone by when we’d hope that the girls would bring along new friends that we’d hope would be “hot” and endless summer nights.
And as I sit there taking it all in I’ll remember how far away this time seemed to me. I’ll remember how we used to talk about how old 25 sounded, let alone 40. Opportunities were all that I used to see, endless opportunities that were uncomplicated by responsibilities.
Don’t get me wrong, life is very good now, but every now and then I wonder about that one time….