Friday, October 2, 2015

Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetat Incohare Longam.

Last night, amid the typical crisis of work at work, I left earlier than everyone else--at half past seven. I had a good excuse.

Serendipitously my first two friends from high school happened to be in the city. We were a small rumble of kids when we were 13. 44 years have passed since then without the three of us getting together, but the planets aligned last night and together we got.

We went to an Italian place down the block from my apartment. It's a fairly typical upper east side restaurant. The portions are small and the prices are huge.

Of course, none of that mattered.

We sat at a cramped table--three old men, a little grey at the edges, a little soft in the middle--and we were ninth-graders again.

We did last night what we did then. We told jokes, confessed secrets, presented baroque stories we remembered about growing up. Each of us in our own way is--in the parlance of today--an excellent story-teller. And by application, each of us, in our own way, is a good listener.

We know, intuitively I suppose, that good stories--real stories--are like wine. They need air to bring out their full flavor. And just maybe, again like wine, they grow with age.

Like I said, it had been literally 40 years since we had last been together--at someone's high school graduation party. Where we all were too drunk. And driving home we made another kid sit in the back with his head out the window because, as they told me I said, "he just threw up his pancreas."

40 years is a long time. And truth be told--logistics and distance and responsibilities being what they are--it might be the last time the three of us are together. None of us are what you might call a "joiner." We are all three avoiding our high school reunion later on in October.

No, we had our reunion last night.

The laughter and the pain of growing up.

The laughter and the pain of being a grown up.

We thrashed it around for four hours.

Toward the end of the evening, I told my friends that I remembered a line from the movie "Stand by Me." At the end of the flick--a look back on a boyhood adventure, the narrator says "I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone."

Does anyone?
Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetat Incohare Longam
(The brief sum of life forbids us the hope of enduring long - Horace)

THEY are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
            Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
            We pass the gate.
They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
            Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
            Within a dream.

            --Ernest Dowson

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