I find myself on the eve of my 20 year high school reunion, staring at a beautifully composed and formatted invitation and memory book questionnaire, looking back and wondering, “Where did the time go?”
More importantly, I guess, where did that 18-year-old kid in all these pictures run off to? The kid with all the hair (many follicular scholars have opined that I was sporting a mullet in 1988. While I admit that I had some locally based commerce occurring in the front, and an informal gathering of acquaintances in the back, it was by no stretch of the imagination a mullet as defined, but I digress), the “devil may care” attitude, and the 32 inch waist. Where’d he go?
The nostalgic, melancholy side of me wants to follow Bruce Springsteen’s suggestion from back in 1984:
Now I think I’m going down to the well tonight
and I’m going to drink till I get my fill
And I hope when I get old I don’t sit around thinking about it
but I probably will
Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
a little of the glory of,
well time slips away
and leaves you with nothing mister
but boring stories of-
Glory days, well, they’ll pass you by
Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory days, glory days
But the practical, realist side of me says, “Hey, dummy! You’re doing pretty good. Carpe Diem!”
Sure, I could stand to lose a few (30) pounds. Sure, I have to wear a hat outside when it’s sunny so my dangerously exposed epidermis doesn’t get horribly sunburned. Sure, I never got to do ninety percent of the stuff we used to sit around homeroom fantasizing about.
But, the realist is right (he usually is, the smarmy bastard).
I’ve made it to 38 years old and I’m still on my first wife, and my first mortgage. My first born son is now a full three inches taller than I ever was thanks to my wife’s good Viking genes, and, I’m only one organ short of what I came into this world carrying around (No, it’s not the liver. In spite of my best efforts in my late teens and early twenties, it’s still working as advertised). We get away when we can, and not as often as we’d like. We like NASCAR, and going “down the ocean.”
I enjoy my job, and I’m pretty good at what I do. I’ve tried to stand for something (that’s the idealist in me. He doesn’t come around here too often. If you see him, give him a hug.). I’ve seen good people do bad things, and bad people do worse.
I’ve been to a third-world shantytown, and seen the work of terrorists firsthand. I stood a post behind the leader of the free world.
Like Frankie said (Sinatra, not “Goes to Hollywood”):
Regrets, I’ve had a few,
But then again,
Too few to mention.
Where’d that 18-year-old kid go? He’s the guy looking at me in the mirror. He’s a little older, kinda paunchy, and losing his hair. But he’s smiling at me, so I’d say he’s doing pretty good (of course, that 18 year old kid is telling me to lie my ass off when I fill out this questionnaire. “Tell ‘em you’re delivering bottled water to the International Space Station!!”).
NHHS Class of 1988, I’ll see you in October unless I’m on a Shuttle mission (Be QUIET 18-year-old ME!!)!