When I told people that I was going to attend my five year college reunion, I got a lot of reactions in the puzzled look/eye rolling department.
As in: really? You need to go to a reunion to see people you graduated with five years ago? That is practically minutes.
Well no, not really: my group of friends from college is actually really diligent about getting together at least annually, despite the distances separating us. We don’t actually need our alma mater to put up large booze-filled tents and arrange mediocre buffet spreads for us to see each other–but when the opportunity presents itself, who are we to turn it down?
And truthfully, in the scheme of our twenty-seven-odd years, five isn’t exactly insignificant. It’s practically one fifth of our lifetimes. Twenty-two to twenty-seven: a lot is supposed to happen in that time, isn’t it?
Well, having (barely) survived the weekend I am here to report: maybe, not really so much.
In the past year or so a few of my classmates have gone and gotten married. (Many of them, I should say, to each other.) More will follow in the coming months. We even identified a couple members of my class who may or may not be pregnant.
But for the most part, not much has changed.
Starting with the physical: a consensus emerged that the girls got hotter and the guys look the same. (As I’ll get into further at another time, the liberal arts man is a late blooming sort of species.)
But our lives haven’t changed that much, either: most people seem to be back in school. I don’t think that’s a bad thing: it illustrates the fact that we’re a pretty high-achieving bunch. Many of my peers are attending prestigious graduate programs in things like urban planning and health policy. There are a few fools who, like myself, are taking the MFA route. But it’s a recession: if you can get there, graduate school is the place to be.
So, as a group of childless, mostly single twenty-somethings still part of the academy, it wasn’t much of a stretch for us to re-enter the college bubble: staying in the dorms where we lived as freshmen, hanging out in large co-dependent clusters, having obnoxiously loud sing-alongs and staying up late drinking cheap beer.
(The main difference between college and reunion, it turns out, is the lack of supervision: the keg parties in the dorm courtyards felt completely condoned–if not outright organized by–the administration.)
For the most part the weekend kept us pretty sequestered with our own class. But last night all the reunion classes finally mixed together–in a booze-filled tent, of course–from the graduates of 1935 up to 2005, and all those in between.
As things wound down, an ’05 representative took the opportunity to announce our afterparty and invite the other attendees.
“Come join us!” my friends and I hollered, hoping to shephard along the ’85-ers who’d been brilliantly rocking out to John Mellencamp and the ’00-ers who we hoped might make better hook-up potential than the familiar males of our own year.
“You guys are kicking our butts this weekend!” one suit-clad 30-something informed me, bottle in hand. I was pretty sure this meant that my class had, at that point, collectively consumed more alcohol than his.
“Oh, whatever,” his friend rejoined. “I went to bed at two last night and woke up at six to my son climbing on my face.”
“Yeah man,” the first one sympathized, taking another swig. “We have mortgages and marriages to worry about. Just wait til your ten-year. You’ll get your butt kicked too.”
I hadn’t really concerned myself with the competitive aspect of the weekend’s partying, but I took his point: at this stage, being debaucherous and acting nineteen isn’t all that challenging for myself and my classmates.
A few minutes later I ran into a handful of suspiciously fresh faces: new graduates, it turned out, sereptitously crashing the late-night scene in breathless pursuit of some mythical tequila-laden slip’n’slide of which they’d lord-knows-where caught word. (I mean, what is the college experience if not a perpetual collective search for trouble that does not exist?)
And I thought, he’s probably right: in five years, when my peers and I are finally finished with school and more of us have begun to couple up and settle down, we may very well find ourselves waxing nostalgic in the drunken direction of these very kids: these younger, carefree-er and less-hangover-susceptible versions of ourselves. The class of 2010.
Somehow, I’m okay with that.