May 16, 2007

A quarter century in the "real world," II

The 25th reunion book is at the printer's, out of Alice's hands. 21 days and counting to the Big Weekend. Alice would like to look 10 years younger and 10 pounds lighter, and have forgone the past 10 years of angst, remembering instead only what was fun and interesting. It is a pleasant idea, but Alice lives in Wonderland, home of 9/11, and knows too many Republicans, so she does not trust that she can pull it off.

First, Alice's final words in her capacity as reunion co-chair (i.e., for public consumption), pre-Weekend:

Editor’s note:
“Only connect,” wrote E. M. Forster in Howards End. That is, in essence, what has brought us together this June, a quarter-century post-[college], for Reunion. For once, we are face to face.

If we choose, here we can ignore the huge technological and telecommunications innovations that have, for better or worse, revolutionized our lives. (Pharmaceutical discoveries, however, never take a holiday.)

The class autobiographies that form the center of this book show classmates both surprised and blasé about where we are and what we’ve become. Almost everyone has expressed the feeling that it is only after leaving [our college] that we truly appreciate the experiences and opportunities our sojourn there afforded us, whether academic or otherwise.

I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to this narrative, offering us a glimpse into his or her life. As Joan Didion wrote: “we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be…”

Most of us cherish our [college] connections, however sporadic. We are linked by a landscape that includes the Pub, tea at the Main Living Room, daffodils by the Lake, and Art 105, not to mention the days of free beer and sudden romantic interludes.

That was then; this is now. It’s time to celebrate who we are.



Now, the text Alice couldn't provide for public consumption:

Alice is tired. She has put in more than 60 hours gratis on this reunion book alone, and if the alumnae/i organization remains consistent, she will receive thanks equal to her payment for services. In other words, none. She would like to kick in the ass every classmate who signed up to help with Reunion, then vanished when a specific request was made.

She is not sure she even wants to go. The planning and preparation have been absurdly complicated, in no small part because the alum office reunion coordinator just got promoted into her job this year, and Alice and her co-chairs have born the brunt of her learning curve. One more conference call, and Alice would pretend she lacked a telephone.

Clover's Companion, Alice's once-upon-a-time lover and current best friend, graduated a class behind Alice and will not be in attendence. The Croquet Player has RSVP'd, and Alice is nervous about their meeting at the scene of their initial encounter. They both behaved badly there, and Alice is hoping they won't regress to their teenage selves.

As for the daffodils, Alice does not ever remember seeing any bulbs in bloom.

Alice spent the latter three years of college stone-cold sober, and kept a nightly journal. She knows where the bodies are, if not buried, have encountered one another horizontally. She can't remember what she ate for dinner last night, but who slept with whom 25+ years ago? She's right on it. She has been known to have inconvenient recollections pop out of her mouth.

She has also been known not to alter her language or behavior due to the appearance of small children, for she remembers when you were trying your damnedest to avoid procreation, not to dwell on it.

As for her "career," Alice just laughs. What an overrated concept. Her college sends out its fair share of coffee-achievers, but, honestly, Alice turned in that assignment before graduation. She has worked with enough idiots to change jobs and find that regardless of her occupation, she flunked or never took the course in the patience required for real life.

She is hoping to cheer up in a very short period of time and that a good haircut, much-moisturized and pampered skin, and a decent bra will draw attention to the parts of her that have remain closest to her 21-year-old self. Her penchant for sarcasm has not changed.

Alice can only do so much to stop aging, not that she's complaining publicly about waistlines, wrinkles, and grey hair. She's just thinking it. That, and the fact her eyesight is shot; she has orthopedic problems and a crumbling bone structure. Fortunately, gravity is an equal-opportunity leveler.

Everyone who answered the questionnaires thought the Internet was the best thing since sliced bread -- the technological orgasm of our time. Alice, not so much. When it's good, it's very, very good. When it's bad, it really, really sucks. It operates at a much faster speed than Alice, who fears some connection got lost in the cyber translation, and she's never going to find it.

Oddly enough, even the gay couples didn't consider the fact that they are happily and publicly partnered to be one of the most significant changes in the last quarter century. Alice would put that way before the Internet in her list.

No lesbian considered it that significant that she could, on her own, have a baby, without being consigned to be a social pariah. Now, the lesbian mom gets points for diversity if she's looking to place her kid in private school.

After reading through her classmates' replies, Alice is confounded by their lack of creativity. She and her cohorts are baby boomers, albeit on the young side, but they did love sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, and now all their talk is of money and technology.

While the class of 1982 was never out to save the world, Alice thought it had more of a social conscience and interest than it has demonstrated in the reunion book. She has also been surprised that in 25 years, no one has learned to meet a deadline.

Maybe she shouldn't be. Maybe at this point in our lives, it all does come down to whatever-gets-you-through-the-night, and that "you" is very personal. Alice understands that, really. Her favorite innovation/invention over the past 25 years the first S.S.R.I. to roll off the assembly line in the late 1980s.

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