The number of different emotions everyone had to process at this event could perhaps be visualized as Shibuya Crosswalk in Tokyo, the busiest crosswalk in the world where hundreds of people from all directions march towards the center for a moment of chaos but all somehow make it to the other side. It was the 50th birthday party for my friend Ed who used to be in a band called Spent which achieved moderate success in the 90s but had to go separate ways because life made other demands on them. They reunited for a brief moment this evening. Experiencing their former glory had to be bittersweet for the band members and the audience. The venue, the music, and the beer (Bass Ale!) recreated our life in our 20s so realistically that it was as if we all aged 25 years in the blink of an eye.
But that’s not all. If you live long enough, you carry all sorts of historical baggage. Ed married my ex-wife who left me for him when we were in our 20s. He delivered a speech at the end of the evening making self-deprecating jokes about how everything he has done in his life failed except for their marriage. Marrying her, he said, was the best decision he has ever made. He then introduced their handsome boy who recently turned ten.
And, that’s not all either. We were also chatting all night with another friend, John, who used to be my wife Roxanne’s boyfriend. They were practically married as they’ve known each other since high school and lived together for a long time in their 20s.
Our friend Nadav, who served as the witness and the only attendant when Roxanne and I got married at City Hall, noted how popular Ed is as he managed to fill the venue. I said, “That’s because he didn’t burn a lot of bridges like I did.” Nadav then quickly added, “without even trying.”
The things we experience in our youth are enmeshed with vivid emotions like cattle branding, which makes it nearly impossible to see who our old friends are today. We tend to cling to the things we loved, like music, and cast off the things we don’t want to remember, like the people who bruised our sense of selves. This evening, I thought, perhaps we would grow stronger as a person if we did the opposite.
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