Sitting around the dinner table at a local restaurant Saturday night, I looked around at three faces from my youth and had to admit — I’m getting old.
I got together with three high school buddies of mine and we went out to catch up on old times. Times, distances and locations make it difficult for the whole gang to get together often, but this time out four of us managed to take a few hours out of busy schedules to see one another.
There was Matt, who I’ve probably known longest, as far back as the first grade when we traded plastic dinosaur toys and discovered warfare with little green plastic army men.
We were joined by Chuck, who introduced me to wrist-rocket slingshots, ACDC music and the wonders of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.
Last but not least, our good buddy Dave who threw a memorable camping weekend in his backyard as a teenager (I recall it was akin to Lord of the Flies) and who used to ride his bike with me to driver’s training one summer, making the trip not so boring.
Sitting around the table discussing everything from “the good ol’ days” to politics to what everyone’s kids are up to these days, I had a moment’s thought about how much life has changed since we were kids.
It was a simpler time, growing up in the 1980s. We may have thought we knew it all and that we were grown-up back then, but with youth comes a sense of invincibility and an attitude that balks at everything in the world that can go bad. Just from the four of us seated at that table, since high school I knew some of us had faced divorce, the death of parents and loved ones and the setbacks life throws your way — like layoffs and changes in career paths.
Sitting there laughing and enjoying long absent humor and the occasional ribbing about things from the past, the moment stood still and I noticed things about each friend that hadn’t changed.
Matt still likes to crack a joke now and then, and continues to pursue his love of martial arts. A teacher of aikido now, he told us one of his students that weekend was none other than the teenage daughter of another friend of ours. Talk about feeling old.
Chuck still can’t resist tinkering with a car or truck, no matter how new it is or how perfect it may seem to everyone else. I’m taken back to times watching him climb around under the hood of his old pickup as a kid, trying to replace a valve, plug or filter that was guaranteed to make it run better.
And Dave — Mr. Laidback — who was quiet until he had something hilarious to interject into a conversation and then was assured to bring the house down. I remember his affinity for The Doors, Pink Floyd and the humor of Monty Python. Good to know some things never change.
The night ended and we all returned to our lives, families and careers. It was a great time that brought back fond memories.
Nothing helps put the present into perspective like looking back into the past and remembering where you came from — and who was there when you needed them the most.