Just a few days ago I met up with someone from my high school years, more than an acquaintance, not quite a friend. Not sure what defines a friend, but I am pretty sure that if you never visited each other’s houses, you did not make the cut for friends. Nonetheless, we were friendly through high school - nights spent together at marquesina parties, marquesina being a unique puertorican construction, a sort of concrete shed with an open back and wrought iron swinging doors that would usually house a car or two, but for the evening was filled with fifty to a hundred sweaty teenagers marinating in a soup of their own hormones in the funk of an overhot tropical night, tree frogs singing in the yard - crystal blue persuasion blaring from the rickety stereo.
But I digress.
So my friend (let's keep it simple) is in my neck of the woods - Boston - as a dangling spouse and to visit his middle daughter, currently a frosh at Boston College. We have reconnected through a common high school chum that is very sick and facing his own mortality has decided to reunite us all, all 113 of us, even if just on Facebook. He messaged me on Facebook at the last minute being in town already and we decided to meet. He was on full on tourist mode and as such was heading to the Museum of Fine Arts. Now, the MFA has just opened a new America wing with all its Copley’s, Cassat’s and other assorted Americana as well as a budding colonial Latin American collection , not to mention that the burger at the new cafe had gotten a good review already, three days before it opened to the general public. So, I told him I would meet him there for lunch. Awkward.
It was not awkward at all - not the clichéd picked up where we left off - but closer than the gulf of years would lead you to believe. Maybe is just our age, at fifty you tend to talk more freely about real stuff and spend a lot less time on the chit-chatter, sweet . I for one, had a great time, the burger lived up to the build up, the cafe space is monumental and we got to spend a fair amount of time catching up as the service was brand-new-restaurant slow.
It was a very bittersweet reunion - there we were - thirty years on, old but not aged, yet, reminded of our mortality in the most direct way - how could the vital, beautiful, carefree teenager I remember could have turned into the middle aged balding person across the table from me? And yet, the sweet, that familiarity reaching across the years salved the bitterness and achieved that wonderful balance of laughter through tears - the human condition redux - the joy of life and the forward memory of death.