Lately I’ve been ruminating over something my mother said a few years back. Recounting her 40th high school reunion, she commented that had attendees not been wearing name badges she would have recognized ne’ery a soul. People change as years scroll by and time does not necessarily glide by favorably for all.
This has recently been brought painfully to the fore in my own life. As mentioned in a previous post, a benefit of living here in HLC (Holy Land Central) is re-convening with old friends as they return home for holidays from assorted world enclaves. In the past week I have literally re-connected with 6 pals from days of yore.
Actual face-to-face meetings, however, are strategically spaced in order to keep anxiety levels at bay. Rendezvouses after a decade are stressful; those who have been through it know what I mean.
Unless you’ve been in regular contact with the other party via webphone or video-conferencing, the Polaroid of that person in your mind’s eye is frozen. And outdated. So the initial greeting can be a tad startling. A few pounds, some gray hair, forehead wrinkles..But that’s okay. You can live with seeing changes in the other person. And if the repor is good, you quickly move past the physical.
The uncomfortability lies in coming to terms with the reverse shattered freeze-frame i.e. YOURSELF. The dazed look of complete incomprehension on the other person’s face – “My God! He doesn’t even recognize me” – is particularly unsettling. You’ve spent the last ten years with yourself so the waistline inner tube acquired post-partem is now an old friend accommodated gingerly with drawstring, cotton sweats and low-rise, Spandex-waist trousers.
Your friend across the table, however, remembers midriff shirts and that belly-button piercing you used to unabashedly display. It’s the blank stare on HIS face that sends you unwittingly to the Shelved Memories Department where all-nighters, clubs, dancing and a flatter-tummied you are stored. Instinctively, you take a deep breath, sit up a bit straighter and suck in the mid-section and then attempt to sit through the entire meeting uncomfortably holding that pose while smiling and sipping wine.
Yes, it can bring on bouts of melancholy coupled with wistful longings; the days of platform thigh-high boots, mini-skirts and barely there, transparent tops are pretty much over (unless a complete overhaul aka Cher or Madonna is off in the future somewhere).
Stressful indeed. I am beginning to appreciate hermitage.
Hope, however, lies on the horizon: In another 40 years or so I (hopefully) won’t give a damn. I’ll tap young boys’ behinds with my cane “by accident”, ask the particularly attractive ones for help crossing the street or wheeling me up the ramp and I’ll shamelessly lift my knit sweater in public to show off “war scars”. See here, young man! I used to have a belly piercing right here, I’ll have you know!
Ahhh the glory of getting on…