Over the past five days, I’ve managed to have two mini-reunions with former college/university classmates. I suppose I should specify that “college” was, in fact, “Bible college.” Yes, I began my post-secondary career with a view to becoming a minister. Or theologian. Something in that area. But that story may be the topic for another day.
The first gathering, this past Friday, was fairly surreal. Here I was, a man who’s put so many miles between who he was and who he is becoming, dealing with people who hadn’t really changed at all. Yes, some were now married with children, and all were definitely older. But their way of seeing the world seemed to be stuck, and maybe even entrenched, in the way all of us began at Bible college. I recognized most of them as the exact same person they were all those years ago. And the stories we told, the things we shared, were mostly about our college days. The present rarely came up. The future, not at all.
I’m not trying to be too critical here. I recognize that for some people, that’s how life works best. But not me. I don’t like stasis. Of course, chaos isn’t a good option for me either, but I like to feel like I’m evolving, even if only in the way I see the world and people around me.
My second mini-reunion was last night. The three of us got together for coffee at a downtown café and just chatted and laughed for a couple of hours. We touched on the past, but most of what we talked about, wanted to know about each other, focused on what was happening in our present lives, and where we thought we were going. Always present (even if sometimes unspoken) was “what’s around the corner?”
Another difference between the two reunions was that I was invited to the first, but initiated the second. The first was a case of, sure, I’ll go, but I’m not going without some booze. The second was one where no liquid courage was required. One was surreal (a good surreal, but odd none the less), while the second was a joy from the first greeting.
Meeting people from the past is odd, isn’t it? And if all that’s there in the room with us is nostalgia, then it becomes a struggle to remember stories, anecdotes, and Jack Handey quotes, to add to the conversational ping-pong. The past is all there is. But, if meeting old friends is about using nostalgia as a marker for the road we’ve taken and the way to talk about our futures, then it becomes more than a reunion. It’s then about remembering why we became good friends and realizing that all this talk of today and tomorrow is ensuring that we’ll always be good friends.