Last night, I had dinner at an old friend’s house where I — face it, Pat, you know it’s true — shamelessly invited myself. I could imagine no greater treat than a home-cooked meal with a family. We had a lovely dinner, then gathered in front of the fireplace where we toasted marshmallows for s’mores and then younger brother faced off against older sister and her friend in several rounds of Stratego. (There was also a delightful interlude where everyone — sister, friend, brother — modeled sister’s killer patent leather boots, a bargain unearthed at Goodwill. My friend’s daughter, not quite 13, is almost my height, so the boots were thigh-high on her 6-year-old brother, who did a delightful dance.) I’d happily travel the country every day for a year if I could be guaranteed an evening such as this once a week.
This is, in many ways, more a Memory Project entry than a tour blog entry, because these friends are from the San Antonio phase of my life. I’m bad about keeping in touch with people, but my friend and I agreed that we never have any problem dropping in and picking up where we left off. Why is this, my friend wondered? Is it because we knew each other in our 20s? I think that’s part of it. The San Antonio Light (R.I.P.) was staffed largely by young people and I was rawer than most, a real work-in-progress. (I remain, I think, preternaturally immature, if that’s not an oxymoron, and even if it is.) We were silly together, and silliness is a great glue.
Here’s one of my favorite memories from that time: The women in our group, we walked a lot. We took long walks through a beautiful residential neighborhood known as Monte Vista. Most of us lived on the edges of this place, in duplexes or apartments carved into once-grand homes. We were, in a sense, walking through our future, looking at the seemingly settled lives of people ten-to-twenty years older than ourselves. I can’t speak for the others, but I really did think that some mantle of wisdom would descend and I would have everything figured out. I thought of life as a picnic cloth, one being spread on a windy day: the trick was to get all four corners down. Work was one corner, home another, family/relationships another. I’m not sure I ever defined the fourth one, which is all to the good, as I know now that no one ever really gets all four corners down. On a good day, in fact, I barely have two, and I can only hope they’re the ones opposite one another.
Memories of friends from your 20s? Even if, in fact, you are one of the readers here still in your 20s, or barely out. What do you think you’ll remember, my young friends? What corners of your life are you trying to pin down?