How does one summarize twenty years of life in two paragraphs?
It’s an interesting exercise. I guess for some its easier than others, especially if your life has been relatively stable – staying in pretty much the same career and location for that amount of time. For others, a couple of paragraphs would hardly suffice. Someone adept at concise descriptions, say, a poet, might have an easier time of it, regardless of the complexity of one’s life.
Today I heard from a friend that I haven’t seen in that amount of time, and was confronted with just such a task. Both of us did what we could to convey a summary in a brief e-mail. However summaries never do justice to the reality. I started writing, but wound up cutting out huge chunks of the narrative as overly wordy, or just not worth putting down. As I get older, I find it’s easier to leave out bits – “Yeah, I’m finishing up my tenth year in this district and twenty-three years in education. Time flies, etc., etc”
This seems to be happening more frequently. This past year one of my best friends from high school has moved back to our area, and his wife started working as our receptionist. I hadn’t seen him since his wedding, nearly twenty years ago, so we got to go through this exercise. I also bumped into another Furman grad sometime back, and went through a similar process. On the Unofficial Furman Football Page (UFFP) I’ve renewed other acquaintances online.
In these latter cases, catching up was brief, but we have maintained contact since then. We’ve had time to fill in the gaps. Does the anticipation of whether or not you’re ever going to encounter this person again, influence what you tell them about your life? Perhaps.
This year will be my 25th year reunion for Furman, so this fall I expect to run into even more people that I haven’t seen since graduation. When they ask what I’ve been up to in all this time, I think that I’ll put a bit thought into my reply. Instead of “the same old same old”, I may give them one of my cards and say, “Here, it’s all online.” That may not be very poetic, but at least it gets the job done.