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Archive for April 27th, 2009

Over the weekend, my husband’s fraternity held a 40th anniversary reunion for their chapter at his alma mater.  The last time the frat held an anniversary shindig, it was their 20th, and he and I were both graduating seniors.  We were both younger — unlined, ungrayed, and uncowed by life  — at that point in time, and it was a fine excuse to get dressed up and hang out with our friends before the majority of us went our separate ways. 

Fast forward 20 years.  There’s been a lot of water under the bridge in that period of time, silt-laden, swirling water filled with tree limbs and old tires.  The bridge itself has seen better days, too.  But as much as we’d like to believe that we’re not that far removed from the collegians we once were, this weekend proved that indeed, we are.  It’s fair to say we have become our parents. 

Of course, there’s nothing like pulling up to the dorm of yesteryear in a top-of-the-line new Audi convertible.  None of the undergraduates needed to know that it belonged to a friend’s mother; we were merely showing up looking like the wild successes we all thought we’d be in 20 years.  Now that I look back I see that probably the same scenario took place back then, too, but we were too unlearned to realize it. 

Upstairs on the fraternity’s floor, we marveled at the size of the chapter room (smaller and dirtier than we remembered), laughed over old photos of friends (hairstyles that have come back in style), and traced our fingers over the signatures of people we haven’t seen in years on the mural on one wall.  We were mentally, emotionally, back there again. 

It was mid-afternoon when we visited the fraternity, during a break in festivities, and I got a glimpse at college life caught off guard.  Many of the dorm room doors were open to take advantage of a cross breeze, and looking in I was appalled to see the squalor these young men lived in, happily.  The same squalor that my husband and his fraternity brothers lived in 20 years ago, a hodgepodge of unmade beds and cast-off furniture and dirty clothes on the floor.  Some things remain constants. 

In one of the rooms we passed, I saw a young man and woman asleep together on the twin-size bed.  A double-take assured me they were fully clothed, just napping beneath a breezy open window in the late afternoon.  How I remember fondly those lazy Saturday afternoon naps. 

One of the brothers was kind enough to visit with us old folks for a few minutes, and I looked him over — scrubby jeans, flip-flops, tank top, long hair and beard.  A very nice, polite young man, but in need of a shave and a haircut and possibly a shower.  And it occurred to me, it was the sort of thing that would have set my mother aghast 20 years ago.  Oh, now I understand, just as she said I would. 

While I still think of myself as that college student a lot of the time, the point was driven home for me this weekend that I’m pretty far removed from those days.  Truth is, I’m actually old enough to be some of these boys’ mother.  Nice. 

 

— Mox

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