Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas gift

So there we were, 12 years removed from the best of times and the worst of times, swapping stories as if but a few months had passed.

High school is long gone (mostly for the better), but I do miss the people. Work had kept me from attending a similar gathering earlier in the week (don't go into journalism if you actually want a social life), but I made it to Barley's tonight just after 6:30 to enjoy dinner and conversation with some favorite friends from the Halls High Class of '96.

Funny how it comes to you in pieces now. Political arguments in a random English class. Conversations during study hall. Highs. Lows. Performing for your peers.

Listening to the talk tonight, a wave from the past broke in my mind, and I wondered where it all had gone. It's as if you looked up one day to realize an entire decade slipped away while you were looking down.

Hanging around the Crossroads with my job, I've often found the experience at times to be like that episode of "The Twilight Zone" in which the guy wakes up to discover he doesn't know a soul in his hometown. Sure, I know a lot of folks. But friends I saw every day for years have spread out into the ether to forge their own lives. It's as natural as the rise and set of the sun and the moon; and yet it's kind of sad.

I hate that life is such that we're only reunited here and there, at Christmas or Thanksgiving, or once every 10 years. I don't miss everybody from those days, but I do miss a whole lot of folks.

There's an old country song I like that asks, "Is this all we get to keep as the years go rolling by? Just a memory from all the days gone by..."

No, as it turns out. Reunions of any kind are special, bittersweet, a reminder that life at its essence is all about relationships and connections.

I fear we're losing some of that as a society. We're becoming depersonalized, solipsistic and, God help us, desensitized. Humanism has become a dirty word in some circles and we're the worse for it.

But down South at the Crossroads, some of us still get together, talk awhile, make it a point to break bread with old friends.

In all the ways that matter, it's the best Christmas present one can receive.

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