Posts Tagged ‘paths not taken’

Reuniting with Old Friends

November 13, 2014

A few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal published a recipe for a drink called Act of Contrition. Having just returned from my college reunion, I figure I need a bottomless glass in pursuit of the absolution I seek. Reunions are funny things, aren’t they? Filled with loads of laughs and happy memories, they also serve as a reminder of how fast time flies and how much lives have changed. I felt nervous, yes, but was excited to see old friends—plus, I looked pretty good so that made everything better.

 

At the reunion dinner, I noticed that just about everyone was “thicker” than they were when we graduated. The aging process has been kinder to some more than others. But, what amazed me was that, despite all these years apart, how quickly everyone fell into the same dynamics we shared before. The laughs and the chemistry were pretty much the same between us, but softened by the kindness that accompanies suffering through some of life’s disappointments.

 

Still, for all that was the same, much has changed. Life choices (and misunderstandings) have resulted in wildly unexpected outcomes with participants unconsciously communicating contentment, relief, resignation, or an exaggerated ambition to the point of becoming a caricature. Add in a dollop of confusion or regret, and I think we’ve covered the bases.

 

I think I’ll throw in a little pop culture reference to tie some of these musings together. For those of you who don’t know, The Affair is a marvelous drama on Showtime. In one exchange, the exasperated male lead says to the female, “Whatever darkness you think you’re hiding is written all over your fucking face. And you know what? I kinda like it.” I love that line. Applying it to reunions (or just about anything else), we can take much from it: 1) we can’t hide as much as we think we can and 2) much of the time that “thing” we feel so bad about in our lives isn’t sufficient to scare off the people who truly love us.

 

Editorial aside: Poor men, they’re so often exasperated by us. We really can drive them to distraction—and then they do stupid, stupid things.

 

Appearances are just appearances, yes, but they also reveal way more than we necessarily want. We can’t help it. It’s laughable to believe we’re successfully hiding something about ourselves, whatever “it” is. However, as a friend gently reminded me, the good news is to understand that what others believe is important about us may be worlds apart from what we think is important—for good or for ill. For instance, the things I am struggling with in my life these days, those things I consider paramount to proving that I’m worthwhile are of practically zero interest to my friends, who don’t care whether I have a job or not or am married or not or have life figured out. Apparently, what draws them to me has nothing to do with how I perform according to conventional standards. It’s hard to believe that I am enough as I am, as flawed and stupidly drunk as I sometimes can get, but apparently it is.

 

The same is true for you.

 

I write all this not because my reunion is so inherently interesting, but because it serves as a magnifying glass for how much we can see about one another, whether we mean for them to see us or not. Try as we might to posture or pretend, or even blithely float along utterly unaware just how much we are giving away by the way we dress or behave or hold back, the writing’s on the wall.

 

I hate feeling that seen, don’t you?

 

There’s no grand, re-booting conclusion to this post, just a lot of observations swirling about as I pull away from the mists of memory…

 

 

For those of you who feel a similar need to seek absolution for whatever it is that bothers you, I offer the following:

 

Act of Contrition

This swizzle, adapted from Nashville’s Pinewood Social, combines rum with herbal digestif Fernet Branca.

 

Make Demerara simple syrup: In a saucepan, simmer 1 cup water with 1 cup Demerara sugar until sugar dissolves. Let cool to room temperature.

 

In a Collins or large rocks glass half filled with crushed ice, combine 2 ounces Scarlet Ibis gold rum, ½ ounce Fernet Branca, ¼ ounce falernum, ¾ ounce orgeat, ¾ ounce fresh lime juice and ¼ ounce Demerara simple syrup. Swizzle until well blended, add crushed ice to fill and continue swizzling until glass frosts. Top with a dash of Angostura bitters and a mint sprig.

 

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