Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thoughts from the Year Before Your 10 Year High School Reunion

No one tells you how simultaneously young and old nine years will make you feel. Despite the jokes you make to your friends about how old you are, you really don't feel as ancient as you let on. In many ways, you still feel just as vulnerable (and invincible) as you did back then. 

No one tells you that almost-ten years will feel like an eternity, but also like a snap of the fingers. No one tells you how melancholy it will make you feel for some reason, even though you're perfectly happy and content with your life. 

No one tells you how suddenly introspective you'll become or that your friend who played the trombone in marching band and who you watched play football from the sidelines every Friday night in the fall and who once reassured you that you didn't need to be self conscious about your lisp wouldn't live see a ten year reunion, because he'll pass away from a fucking heart attack at 27 years old. 

No one tells you how sad you'll feel when you realize you haven't seen him since graduation and how upset you'll be when you can't remember where you put your yearbooks or the grainy snapshots that seemed so important at the time. No one will tell you that those things that once held so much significance: your class ring, medals, and other momentos of long ago achievements will end up in boxes forgotten. No one tells you that you'll come to terms with this lost significance early, but that it's harder to regain it once it's been lost. No one tells you that despite how much you tell yourself none of it matters any more, it still does. 

No one tells you how suddenly sentimental you'll become when you find out that the trombone player died. No one tells you that you'll hand-write your thoughts on a scrap piece of paper, just like you did in high school, only now there's no one to pass the note to. No one tells you how much you'll hope that in some shoe box somewhere, the homecoming carnation the trombone player gave you is still there, and you'll wish you would have appreciated it more at the time. 

No one tells you that you'll forget how to write poetry or that the books and movies that seemed so meaningful then are now painfully cliche. No one tells you that you'll spend a sunny Wednesday in April in your hometown at your friend's funeral reminiscing with people you haven't seen in almost ten years and how awkward and wonderful and sad and comforting it will all be. No one tells you that your English teacher will hug you as you cry on her shoulder and suddenly you'll feel sixteen years old again. 

Maybe they did tell us, but maybe we forgot. Or we didn't listen. Or we didn't think that it would actually happen to us. They tell you how difficult it is to grow up, but no one tells you that the growing up never stops, no matter how old you are, and it really never gets any easier. But maybe we get a little wiser, a little stronger, and with each passing day, a little better. Maybe we remember that life is short and each day is a gift and that we shouldn't take one moment for granted. Life will always carry on and maybe we'll all carry on with hope because it's all we have left. 

Rest easy, Jason.