That question would come soon enough. Braced for the inevitable, I clasped my old classmate’s hand and waited.
“When did you arrive? Who else have you run into? Are you going to the alumni reception?” Don’t try to distract me, I thought, skip to the preliminaries and get it over with. Just ask – “So, what do you do these days?”
A whole decade had passed since our university class graduated, bursting with grand visions and a very unhurried sense of destiny. Some of us (cough cough myself) more unhurried than others; so very slow that I was only a few meandering steps further along the career path I’d started ten years ago.
Wasn’t this the point of a college reunion? To show off how far we’d traveled up the corporate ladder or toward some idealistic life goal? Then what if you’d been too busy crossing borders, chasing passport stamps, to accomplish much of anything?
The thought of explaining (justifying?) this caused my palms to sweat.
“Where are you living now? Have you talked to so and so recently? Do you remember when…?”
Families, relationships, political affiliations, recent vacations: the things we discussed were things that shaped our daily existence but barely connected to our current employment.
As as the reunion weekend wore into casual drinks at an old student haunt, or late-night laughter over dusty memories, I realized that the only person still obsessed with earning a job title was Me.
These friends wanted to talk experiences, not resumes.
Maybe we’d all become long-term travelers, each person journeying in ways inconceivable senior year. Sure, we’d studied hard to become doctors and business owners – but we were also sports fanatics, avid readers, power moms and bearers of adult responsibility.
Turns out, I waited ten years to answer a question that no one ever asked.
Real Life (the kind that dawdles and winds and dumps you where you least expect it) doesn’t really fit on a fancy square of paperstock, anyway.