Exactly 20 years ago my college friends and I were soaking up the remains of Senior Week in Ithaca. Larry Johnson and the epic Knicks payoff run were the backdrop to our pre-game before we’d go out. Frequently ending with the sun coming up, I’d need to check the $150 of film I developed that summer to really recall that week. (I vaguely remember that a neighbor had rented an outdoor hot tub for a party. Shiver. I also recall having Sun-In-Gone-Wrong orange hair, a pierced Labret, and discovering I was allergic to Parrot Bay rum. Don’t judge. We all mature at different speeds.)
The most memorable part though was relishing the last of our college days with my closest friends. If you had a similar experience you may remember the conversations where you agree to all buy homes on the same cul-de-sac so your children can grow up besties too. This was 2000 so we were all cannon-launching to NYC for finance, Bay Area for dot-coms, or med schools in a major city. Our plan to re-convene, though well-intentioned obviously ignored path-dependence. Nostalgia is best in small doses. Class reunions and rock tours. You can’t build a future on an era frozen in time.
My kids have so many aunties and uncles who look nothing like them. I’ve been tremendously fortunate to stay close to many of my college friends. Yes, it takes effort to stay in touch. Making it to destination weddings, annual get-togethers in random cities, guys and girls trips. It also helps that many are concentrated in popular hubs like SF, NYC, DC. Friends and spouses we have met since graduation have become honorary “Corndogs” (how Yinh, a Cal alum, refers to the Cornell crew). On Friday, 5 of us Zoomed to work on a fitness game app some of them are pet-projecting and on Saturday a flip-cup Zoom birthday party for Brook. These are people I have been lucky to know for almost 25 years.
We may have been wrong about living on the same block but we also didn’t anticipate how technology and the ease of flying (I know flying can suck but keep some historical perspective here) would actually be serviceable substitutes. Think of how different this is from people who graduated in the 1960s. Flip your tassel, turn to your bro, and say what…”I’ll call you?” Spend 75 cents a minute to be tethered to a phone?
When your problems are too much screentime and always “being connected”, I say count your blessings.