Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Now and Then

Every now and then I get lulled into reverie.  That stands to reason.  It is, after all, nearly autumn, that singular season of nostalgia and recollections.  Of course, too much nostalgia can evoke too much sentimentality, and one is in danger of being overwhelmed.  One must proceed with caution.
This rush of memories, no doubt, is triggered by the fact that I am on the reunion planning committee.  Now that is an exercise in recall that un-calcifies recollections as we retrieve archival data.

Ah yes, reunions – that time-honored tradition when we all become born-again adolescents and once more defiantly reject the inconvenient truths reflected in our own mirrors.  (I personally feel that delinquency is wasted on the delinquent.)

Old names and faces emerge from the mists and corridors of time, and everyone is exactly as I remember them, refreshed and revitalized…regardless of the brutal process of atrophy and cellular breakdown by which time permanently alters all our landscapes…and our vanities.

“Those Were The Days” is our anthem, and we reminisce with old friends who recall the times when we had no need for techno-gadgets like a GPS – all roads led to State Street!

(Of course, a few of our more infamous alumni had cell numbers long before they had cell phones.  Did I mention we went to West High?)

No reunion is without its stories…and specters, that act as a Greek chorus.  Memories are like webs- it is impossible to touch one silk strand without causing the others to vibrate.  I suppose that’s what gives one the sense of the whole.

Gatherings allow us to rediscover who we were and who we are.  And each attendee views our common history through lenses that are somewhat autobiographical.  That makes sense.

To the casual observer, we may appear to be biological oddities, perhaps a little waddlesome, a little asymmetrical.  But the casual observer would be wrong.  Way wrong.  When old friends gather, when they reunite, Time ceases to have meaning…or power.  Casual observers lack lenses with benevolent distortion.

The geometry of our forms has been softened, and we note with melancholy the loss of the physical definition we had back then.  Now, by virtue of residing atop the food chain, some of us are circumferentially challenged around our equators.  Eh, who cares!

So much to celebrate.  Possibly some things to un-say, and  un-see.  It’s remarkable how our lives spill into each other’s. 

However, in spite of the ravages of time, we are not exactly primal man squinting at extinction.

No sirreee!

Without reminiscing, memory atrophies.  It’s crucial to remember the visions of pompadours and beehives that danced on our heads.

I’m not sure if I’m remembering or hallucinating.  But I recall that back then, as young girls, we were symmetrical creatures, crafted of just the perfect proportion of blood and bones and skin.  Heck, I
remember when we only had one chin!

Time was irrelevant.

Summer was a verb.

Then, we girls talked endlessly on the phone (rotary dial, of course) like Sandra Dee stunt doubles of make-up, mayhem, dating, and men.

Now, we carry smart phones and text of mortician’s putty, mayhem, CARBON-dating, and men…opause.

Through the years, we have become unified, we have become one:  the women, uniboobs; the men, unibrows.

We girls have sprouted facial fur prolific enough to render us contenders in the beard growing contests of yesteryear.

And the men are swaddled in their own nasal hair.

Ah, such is the capriciousness of rogue follicles.

We have been imbibing formaldahyde like fine wine in hopes of preserving what physical remnants we have left, and boost mortality, inhaling Aqua Net fumes and channeling our inner bouffants to stimulate memories of the by-gone years before we aged out of our feral tendencies; those long-ago times when “60 Minutes” was a full hour, and long before incessant reminders like carpet bombs to call a doctor for anything that lasts more than four.

And who can forget the music?  If music defines us, what does “Who put the ram in the ramma lamma ding dong?” say about our generation?  Back in the day, we listened to Mick Jagger wail his complaint “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” Now, we’re all too tired to care.

Brylcream and Ipana toothpaste were products that spoke to our vanities.  And we bought.  Now, we are demographically in the cross hairs of advertisers pitching hearing aids, medical alerts, and spot faders.  And we buy. 

Vanity is a constant.

My grandkids never tire of listening to me tell stories straight from the pages of history.  However, asking if Tutmoses was a member of my graduating class is enough to send me scurrying to my therapist for high-voltage anger management techniques.

But the beat goes on.  And it looks like we made it.  WE…refugees from the “pre-googleization” era, a collection of implants and transplants…WE. MADE. IT!

Reunions allow us to have an out-of-body experience.  For just a moment, we can forget that we’re casualties of predatory shrinkage and tissue ejection.  We can forget that due to gravitational pull and multiple planetary rotations, we have morphed into physiological punchlines, clich├ęs we used to mock.

We can forget that our medicine cabinets are stocked with controlled substances like Lipitor, digitalis and over-active bladder remedies.  And we can celebrate our latest, greatest discovery that Pythagoria is not an elimination malfunction we will eventually have to be medicated for.

Our angle of repose is, at present, more angle than repose.  But I don’t think that disqualifies us from the planet.  We have a lot of living to do.

An interloper, without prior acquaintance, who may inadvertently wander into this event, might see what he perceives as a collection of compact garden gnomes, comprised of volcanic debris and congealed gelatinous substances spun from life’s centrifuge.  He may even observe doughy thighs and trophy wrinkles like fault lines, metaphorical subterranean survivors of decades past.

Time is the great leveler…and healer.  Actually, so is hair.

While I rail at Time, rage at its tyrannical transformations, I guess it’s simply the human experience.
Indeed, Time has eroded our physical terrain…and, thankfully, our wanton hubris. Certain laws are immutable.  And liberating.

My personal blueprint for the evening of the reunion is to hermetically seal myself in Spanx and a burqa, nothing too revealing, (a humanitarian courtesy to my fellow classmates).  I will view old friends through truer prisms, see the beauty, and dance the night away. 

Memo to alumni:  Anyone planning to split your britches busting a move in frenzied break-dancing, I have only two words:  Don’t!

Relationships are living entities.  We are soul siblings – more alike than different.  We are imprinted with our own identity, individually and collectively. 

Yes, Time is immutable.  But time cannot blunt our senses.  We will occupy pleasant mirages, where things may be altered, but nothing has changed.

There is a universal tribal law which dictates that dignity and honor be accorded those who have been through fiery furnaces.  We have all been transformed by the heat.  But we simply emerge hotter now that we were then.

All memory conspires to a single story.


Now and then time collides with memory…and memory wins.  It always does.  It is, after all, the highest form of intellect.