For the past few months, I’ve been trying to live up to my new philosophy in life, which is “College Style!” That is, to do everything with the spirit of openness, optimism, and fun. We tend to lose this spirit as we grow older and become more obsessed with frivolous things like money, reputation, and hygiene.
This past weekend two of my college friends came to visit me. It had been nearly nine years since I last saw Tracy and Holly. I recalled the late-night discussions, the all-nighters, the inebriated breakdowns over existential issues. Now they are both impoverished lawyers who are fighting for the little guys.
“We are on the train and will be there in 45 minutes,” Holly said. “Yay,” I said. “So where are you staying?” “What the hell,” she said, “we’re staying with you. You told us we could crash on your couch.” I didn’t recall saying that and started to panic. Then I remembered the mantra College Style. I rushed to take out the compost, which had been festering in the kitchen, producing a rancid smell that once you’re used to, it’s actually not noticeable. But even College Style has its limits.
It was nice to see Tracy and Holly again. The years were kind to them. They look like I remembered: Tracy tall and skinny with curly hair, Holly shorter and had put on some weight. “You both look just like you always did,” I said. “Yeah,” Holly replied, “and you look … old. Yet decrepit.” It was like we were back in college again!
For the three days they were here, we lived like college students. The first night, we drank, then went clubbing until 3 a.m., then ran to a QFC to buy ice cream, which we proceeded to eat until 4 a.m., at which point they passed out on the rug and couch in the living room while I slinked into my bed. The following day, we dragged ourselves out of bed, went to the U District to eat a greasy vegan breakfast, toured the city, raided a Trader Joe’s for a picnic at Alki, drank a box of wine, and went to a Latin club until 2 a.m. “College style, yay-yuh,” I said, while trying out some salsa turns. We got home at 2:30 a.m. and proceeded to talk for an hour. Then I crawled into bed, because by that time, my legs had started cramping up.
Between the craziness, we reminisced. Holly and I are similar in that we pine for those best four years of our lives. “We will never experience that again,” we said, weeping gently into our glasses of wine. Tracy, however, is a weird combination of optimism and cynicism. “I don’t recall them being that good,” she said, “and I think that the best years of our lives are ahead.” “What a horrible thing to say!” we chastised, preferring to hold on to our crystalized memories.
Because I don’t have a Facebook account, Holly logged on to hers so I could see what the rest of my college friends were doing. An, one of my best friends, whom I lived with for three really great years before we completely lost touch with each other, was expecting his first child. His profile picture showed him with grey hair and slightly chubbier. He had become a doctor and is married to one. Images of us rollerblading at midnight in the Quad, going to the movies with our other friends, singing classic Mexican love songs in a mariachi band with him playing the guitar and me the maracas. What the hell happened? How did nine years go by without us sending a single email to each other?
After they left, the sleep deprivation finally caught up to me, and I slept in until 3 p.m., waking up confused and disoriented, just like in college. I went to the computer to do some work, but it was depressing. I realized that I’ve been a horrible communicator, keeping in touch with maybe one of my college friends, and not even doing that very well. They probably have kids and family. Each day that passes by is a day further from those magical years. For Holly and me, we were lucky enough to understand how special they were while we lived them. And perhaps because they were so amazing, we cling to them and compare everything to them, trying to relive them. But maybe Tracy is right, that these best four years of our lives will be followed by years that will be even better. Still, I should email An and see if he is interested in reuniting the mariachi band.
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