Saturday, August 21, 2010

Old Friends & War Stories - Reflections After A Night Out

I caught up with some old friends last night. I guess it's a sign of age when you can make an exciting night of recalling old, embarrassing war stories -- and have your stamina run out before the stories do.

Injuries, bachelor parties, pranks, and hangovers: this is what my twenties were like. And I'm grateful we (mostly) lived to tell the tales. To those who didn't (Mike P., Rich J., and others), we raised a glass. May they rest in peace.

None of us has exactly the life we imagined for ourselves. But most of us are happy. I know I am. I'm in worse shape than I'd dreamt I'd be, but I'm in better shape than I deserve. I guess that counts as a win.

You reach a certain point in your life where everyone you've known long enough is an old friend, whether or not you got along well as youngsters. In that way, chapters of life are like battles, testing and shaping us, and anyone who emerges from the crucible with you is automatically a brother-in-arms. It just seems petty & immature to act otherwise. Sure, I stole your girlfriend and never paid back that loan. But here we are after all these years, and it's wonderful to see you again.

Time may not heal all wounds, but it sure puts your skirmishes into perspective.

Of course, the night wasn't all fond remembrance and laughs. There's plenty of gossip to be shared, and the follies of others are always entertaining, in that "there-but-for-the-grace-of-God" kind of way. My own mid-life crisis was to quit a well-paying job and go stumbling down a more-treacherous career path. But so many others choose more self-destructive outlets: affairs and nervous breakdowns, divorces and addictions.

I guess it's fitting that the night should end with a run-in with law-enforcement. But it was just a routine traffic stop, as they say. I passed the field-sobriety test, so no citations were issued. As befits my wizened, more enlightened state, I got off with a warning.

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