From there to here
We sat next to each other on Kat and Sean's slipcovered sofa, in the living room that, over the past week, had begun to exhibit definite signs of habitation by its new owners. We were spread somewhere between the fullness of dinner and the cheerful obnoxiousness that was an evening of gaming with the wondergeeks. He flashed a grin at me and said, "You realize that as of next year, we'll have known each other for over half of our lives?"
I tried to count back without using my fingers, failed, and said, "Has it really been that long?"
"It was the summer of 1990 when we met," he confirmed. Yes, indeed—summer of 1990—before our birthdays, so we would have been square in the midst of the gawky year of 13.
Writers shouldn't be allowed to use phrases like "In the meantime, everything changed," regardless of the amount of truth such a statement might contain. It's too easy of a way to skip over the formative events between then and now, sacrificing story for speed.
What a quaint little story it's been: twelve years in which we've never lived in the same town, never gone to the same school, but never quite managed to lose touch. Even now, when having him (and his exceedingly lovely—and aptly named—wife, Joy) here, it may still take a while to get over the discontinuity of crossover, but it's still just as worthwhile as it's always been.
How to explain that sentence without saying "In the meantime, everything changed," when in fact it did? College degrees and marriages for both of us, moving away, and having to start our lives almost completely over.
Perhaps Andrew doesn't have the same "Before Marriage" and "After Marriage" mental divisions in his life that I have in mine, but for me, they're both very strong and very real. Few of my friends leapt the boundary; partly because I drifted away from many of them, and most of those remaining just didn't feel the need to try to keep in touch with someone who had immediate plans to move out of state immediately after graduation.
I am not embarrassed to introduce friends from my 'old' life to friends from my 'new' one. While I have nothing to hide, it's difficult to explain those who came before to those who came after, because they have no frame of reference for my life before.
Many of them have never been to Arkansas, much less Tull, nor seen the places where I went to school, nor met anyone from my family besides my parents (and them, only once or twice).
Most of the people I know now—the after—have only known the married-and-settled version of me, and they take for granted my relationship with Jeff that, not too many years ago, generated a good bit of juicy gossip amongst anyone who knew either of us. (She met him how? Where? Seven hours apart? The… internet? Ew! How weird is THAT? But they seem so … normal … now!)
Andrew's one of the few people still around who knows the whole story about the process of getting from there to here. (The astute reader will wonder at the lack of a tell-all. Ever heard of the phrase 'mutually assured destruction'? That, and the phrase 'mutual blackmail' should sum it up nicely. There's no such thing as a good photo from when you were thirteen.) There's so much comfort in shared history, in being able to leave many of the obvious things unsaid.
Either way, it's hard not to sit on the couch, count the years, and wonder at how much of a good-natured giggle we're getting at each other's expense.
Oh, well. We've got to get our laughs somehow.
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In the meantime, I hope this entry finds you all well. I've been varying combinations of busy, tired, and away, thus limiting my writing time (and that's when our cable modem was actually working properly). The commenting system on Quarto is about 90% functional, which is cheering; it looks like I will make my self-imposed deadline and have this site running on Quarto by the end of the month.
Have I mentioned lately that life is good?
If not, consider it mentioned.