Have the best years of your life now
I don’t know everything. Let’s get that out of the way now. Sometimes I’m smart, but I’m wrong a lot, because I take a lot of risks. And while I miss a lot of things about being younger, better looking, richer, more surrounded by friends, more free for adventures, and more sure of what was going to happen, I would never go back.
The Washington Post columnist Art Buchwald said, “If you’re hung up on nostalgia, pretend today was yesterday and go out and have one hell of a time.”
As I look at the schedule for homecoming at ELC, GTRA, and North Union, it hits me that it’s been 30 years since my high school graduation. We didn’t mark the occasion due to the pandemic. Someone distributed a booklet a few of us put together in Microsoft Publisher for our tenth reunion back in 2000 and marveled at the changes in our lives. Many were not married to the spouses they had then. Babies and small children have grown up. The ones born while we were still in high school or a short time thereafter are gearing up for their own 20th reunions, while other classmates are in the throes of raising toddlers and preschoolers born to a second family or a first. The childless and unmarried classmates have usually had grand adventures with one gifted one managing to get stationed in Hawaii for most of his Army career, retiring in a high position and coming back to Iowa to figure out his back nine.
“…pretend that today is yesterday and go out and have one hell of a time.” Why not? I mean now that I have 2 of 3 kids past high school, I won’t be throwing a party when my folks are out of state (Wait. I am the parent. In my continued defense, I thought I was having maybe a half dozen friends over, but even in the age way before social media, that party grew way out of control). I won’t be running around on the country club golf course late at night, rolling down the hill, or sneaking into unsuspecting, vacationing homeowners’ swimming pools to go skinny dipping (plus home security systems have become a lot more effective in the last quarter century).
I don’t think Buchwald meant we actually go back to when we thought we were invincible, didn’t understand all the consequences of our impulsive choices, didn’t get how our irresponsibility affected other people, and were generally very immature.
I think what Buchwald meant was this: if you find yourself thinking, “I miss the times we used to run out and go fishing at midnight, had rehearsal until the wee hours, danced in the living room after everyone went to sleep, laughed and joked while we peeled potatoes together, met for a donut before work, played in the afternoon sunshine,” don’t wish on it, do it. You might not be able to go to the same places. You may not be able to do it with the same people (trust me; I get that one), but it seems to me that if we get out and care about someone as a friend, as our chosen family, as our actual family, and introduce them to some of the things that made us laugh and carry on and feel alive back then, we can have it all now.
I’m going to try it this homecoming week, as we are still working on repairs and remodels to the home we bought last year and put forth a high school senior who is on his way to great things.