One-way ticket to Geezerville
I'm not one to get maudlin about getting older. Yeah, I'm 36, but I don't feel that old. Other than the increasing amounts of gray hair, I don't look that old. I'm definitely in better shape than I was 10 years ago, and I was in pretty good shape then. But this week, I saw a few more telltale signs and reminders than usual of the passing of time.
For example, I got an email from a former classmate from my year-and-a-half in high school out in Richland, Wash., notifying me of our impending 20th high school reunion next summer. I didn't graduate from that school because we moved to New Hampshire after sophomore year, but my name is on the class list on Classmates.com because I was interested in catching up with some of my old friends there. Of course, Classmates.com now makes you pony up the dough in order to contact people, so it's pretty pointless if you don't pay the $30 a year; I have to rely on others doing so and wanting to contact me. If you don't pay, all you can do is see who else is signed up.
I had the distinct pleasure of attending four high schools, three of them my freshman year; all of this was because of my dad's nomadic job moves. I started at Pickering High School in Ontario, moved after three months, spent a month at a junior high in Richland, and then moved to Hanford High School after we rented a house across town. I was just starting to enjoy myself at Hanford when we moved again to Kingston, NH, where I finished school. I stayed in touch with a couple of friends from Richland until I got to college, when suddenly I just stopped writing back. What a dink. The surprising thing was, I'm usually not like that. I don't know why I just felt it appropriate to cut ties, but second semester freshman year at UNH, I guess I felt I was too busy with classes and partying to bother returning letters. It's too bad, because now I really wish I had. So wherever you are, Dan Schwartz and Andy Monko, I apologize. I was a tool. It would have been easier if we had email back then instead of snail mail; it's so much easier to stay connected to people nowadays. But the real problem was laziness.
I actually just got the scoop on Dan from the woman who emailed me about the reunion; guess he's been married twice and is a firefighter just north of Seattle. I already knew through Google searches that Andy is the publisher of Resonance magazine, a pretty cool-looking music and arts mag out of Seattle. I tried to email him a few years ago but never heard back. It's not totally surprising that he's followed this career choice, because he started a skatepunk zine called Bowling for Humans after I moved away and sent me a few copies. Very cool stuff. The funniest part of it is when I first met him, he was totally into dorky AOR crap like REO Speedwagon. Dude loved his REO; me, I was listening to Rush and Ozzy and Iron Maiden, and eventually I got him into heavier stuff. But within a few years, he turned into a punk rocker and was able to witness the burgeoning indie rock scene in Washington state that gave rise to bands like Nirvana and Mudhoney. I wish I was there to see it all with him. But he seems to have done pretty well for himself, so that's cool.
Another weird moment this week was finding out that the niece of my first girlfriend now works for my company. Michelle Nadeau was my date to the junior prom back in '84. We weren't dating for very long, about a month or so, and then she dumped my sorry ass about 10 days before said prom. Needless to say, it wasn't a fun evening. And since she was my first girlfriend, I was pretty bummed about the whole thing. Of course, time heals all wounds and I had other girlfriends. I used to hang out with Michelle a little when she went to UNH the year after I got there, although I never saw her after her freshman year and never really thought about her. We lost touch until a few years ago, when I saw her name on Classmates.com and tracked her down. We exchange the odd email every six months or so; she's married with two kids now and still feels bad about dumping me 20 years ago, which I found surprising. Hell, I was surprised she even remembered me. Anyhoo, she emails me and tells me her niece just graduated from college and got a job at my company. Still haven't met her, but when I do, it'll be a little strange.
The aging theme continued Saturday when we hosted a couple of my old roommates from UNH for a little BBQ action. I'm not talking about the computer nerd I roomed with freshman year; last thing I heard about that dork was that he dropped out of school. I lived off-campus the last two years of college with three football players, Rob, Danny and Will. We've all tried to stay in touch over the years (15 have passed since graduation--yikes), but in recent years, we've all settled down and had kids and that makes it tougher to get together. Rob was the first to get married, in '93 to Sara, who lived across the hall from us. They've got two beautiful girls, Alison and Caroline, aged 10 and 7. Will got married a few years later and has three kids now, but he's since moved to Colorado. And Danny got married in '98 and has two girls, Emma and Maggie. I was the last to tie the knot--four years ago on the 14th--and to have kids.
Rob and his family (who live near Nashua, NH) and Danny without his family were over at the homestead yesterday. I think it was the first time we've gotten together and no beer was consumed. Rob stopped drinking when Sara was pregnant with Alison, and Dan had a three-hour drive to Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn. I didn't want to be the only one drinking, so I stuck to soda. It was great to see the guys; don't think I'd seen Dan since my wedding and I believe the last time I saw Rob was meeting him for golf several years ago. But as we sat there and reminisced and saw our kids play together, it just struck me as amazing that so much time had gone by and so much had changed. It also made me realize we need to get together more often, which means we need to work harder at it.
On a much sadder note, we found out Friday evening that Deb's grandmother Ruth had died at the age of 89. She had been battling stomach cancer for a while and had kept her spirits up all the while. Ruthie was a tough lady, and a real sweetheart. We knew she was nearing the end because she was under 24-hour care for the last little while and was just transferred to hospice care, which meant she had less than 30 days. The funeral was today in Warwick, RI, so we headed down and saw much of Deb's family on her father's side (her maternal grandmother, Sadie, died in '98). It was nice to see all the people whose lives she had touched and to share in the ceremony, even though I was in a side room with Lily along with sis-in-law Tricia, who was her baby, Tim. We heard Deb's Uncle Jim give a truly moving eulogy (the audio was piped into the room) that really captured Ruth's spirit. She definitely made the most of her time here, something I hope to do as well.