I suppose I’m less interesting when I have nothing to complain about. Who wants to hear about things going well? It’s banks closings, massive ecological disasters, and unfunded and unsuccessful wars that get the page hits.
Well, this does start with a sadness: Art, one of my oldest friends – we were one of five sharing a legendary house in college days – had to come into town from LA because his mother, after a long, long struggle with Alzheimers, had a stroke that ended the struggle altogether. In town for only a short time, another of the housemates, Scott, through Herculean effort managed to get everybody from that era at the Sam Houston Drama Department – who was within driving distance – to gather Sunday afternoon for an impromptu support group and general gabfest. By sheer coincidence, the fifth member of the household, who has also spent the last ten some-odd years in LA, was in town on business, and the fifth member made the three-hour trip from Nacogdoches.
To say that we were all older would be disingenuous. I left the womb of college to take the world of theater by storm nearly 30 years ago. Some of us hadn’t changed that much, some of us had. All were recognizable, all were healthy. The men, when they had hair, wore gray. The women did not, and I was informed by one of them that there was a reason for that.
Some of the folks I had lost touch with years before; some I had never been that close to, anyway. Most of them I had re-established contact with via Facebook (yes, I am one of the old farts that drove out the kids). Some I had lost touch with in spite of living in the same city. Most of us wondered why we didn’t do this more often, why it takes some tragedy to get us to come together.
The sad thing is, we always say that. Every time. Then we go off, get involved in our personal morasses, and never really consider it until somebody dies again.
Bob, the second guy from LA, had to leave early for a wedding. Luckily, he, Scott and I had lunch Friday and did our catching up then. Art, sadly had to leave not long after, to pick up his brother at the airport, before I got to play catch-up with him. That left the rest of us, a number that dwindled through the evening, as those that had driven from distant lands had to once more hit the road.
Steve, a friend for even longer than Art, and I had a quiet moment to engage in one of the conversations we had so often, about metaphysics and history, that was cut short too soon; I was reminded of my years-long crush on Diane; and I was reminded that Porter, the guy who drove all the way from Nacogdoches, is one of the few people that make me laugh loud and long and unashamedly.
As I said, I left college in ’81. Never got that degree, which is something that makes me sad. Too many youthful screw-ups, too many dreams, it was just easier to sever the ties and start over. I’ve started over several times since then. A few summers back, I visited the old digs, the college, the bars, the party house, and I was overcome by an unfathomable longing. I spent months examining that longing. Was it for simpler times, although while living through them, they seemed unbearably complex? Did I miss the dreams that seemed so in reach at the time? Did I miss the certainty of my own unflappable rightness, the obviousness of my genius?
I finally decided that my sadness was due to that lack of closure, of finishing out the program, of getting that all-important piece of paper which would have made certain aspects of my life easier. I just felt that it was a waste of all that time, all those years, all that youth.
But yesterday put paid to all that. I made those friends in those years, and I would not trade anything for those friends and the love felt for them and from them. My nose is rubbed daily in what seems to be the inherent stupidity and brute insensitivity of mankind. Every now and then I need – really, honestly, need – that reminder that there are, indeed, good people in the world, and I know a lot of them.