Friday, March 09, 2007

Time and Tide

NOTE: if the photos look blurry, that is quite intentional.
No need to inspect every pixel to see what time can do!

I previously wrote about faces, and our ability—even our need— as humans to recognize and respond to them. I began reflecting on this subject soon after my most recent college class reunion.

Here, I take a deep breath. Since you know when I was born, it should come as no shock that the college reunion just passed was my 40th ! Well, you may not be shocked, but I sure am. 40 years since graduation from college is a L-O-N-G time!

The reunion made me think of the expression time and tide wait for no man (or woman for that matter). If you follow the link you will see that “tide” does not refer to the ebb and flow of oceans, but to seasons. So, we know that time marches on, irrespective of any desire we may have for it to stand still, if even just for a moment.

The most obvious feature about attending a class reunion is seeing how we all have changed. Sometimes we recognize these college friends, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we are recognized, sometimes not. In addition to the friend who marched up to me and asked if I knew who he was, there were some other “shocks” at the reunion.

One of the girls (as we called ourselves) in our class was “as cute as a button.” What on earth does that expression mean? I know what it means, but WHY? And Googling didn’t help. Anyway, she was cute. When I next saw her at the 40th reunion, she was a most mature (that’s a polite way of saying aged) woman. Her face was care-worn. And the sparkle that had always been in her eyes was dimmed. The lively laughing girl of my college days was gone.

Two other brief stories from this reunion. I have recounted how during these college years, I was pretty much on my own, with my parents in Africa while I finished high school and began college in Pennsylvania. One of my girlfriends was an absolute life-saver. She was always solicitous making sure that I had somewhere to go over vacations. I recall going to her home in Ohio for Thanksgiving and for Easter. I always admired and even envied her. She seemingly had many things I did not have—she came from a fairly well-to-do family, she had a car (a real rarity in those days) and she had an endless stream of boyfriends. Even though I have seen her from time to time since we graduated, we had not really caught up on mutual news for some time. It was with shock mixed with sadness that I listened to her, as we all sat around a circle exchanging life stories, as she described her discovery that she had colon cancer. She has been successfully treated and is doing well. But I was so struck by my good fortune in being healthy.

Another guy from our class, who had in fact been class president, and was one of the best looking guys (who dated all the girls in the class except me) had a similar story. He had gone through a marriage, a divorce, a second marriage, and then last year had a sudden intra-cranial bleed which almost killed him.

So much changes in 40 years. The carefree days of college linger in our memories. And then we go to reunions, trying to regain or relive some of those times. But, of course, we are confronted by the indisputable visual evidence that time and tide wait for no man.


Body Soul Spirit said...

I am a few years younger than you, but many of my peers and friends have suffered or succumbed to illness already. Every time I work with a 50 some year old patient after a stroke, cancer surgery, or with a disease like MS, I thank God for my good health. I hardly feel older than I was in my college days. The body and face change before our perceptions become reconciled to reality!

Cathy said...

At a high school reunion years ago a former classmate did the same thing that fellow did to you. I was staring into the face of a complete stranger who had recognized me instantly. ARGHHHHH! She had lost lots of weight and cut and dyed her hair, but still . . . painful.

Mary said...

Sadly, I haven't seen friends from my youth in many years. It's been 34 years since high school graduation, and often, I wonder about them and also wonder how they have aged, perhaps like me?

Thank you, Donna, for suggesting I remember those friends from my past.