After 49 years, I returned this past weekend to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I went to college. For years after graduating, I dreamed about the place. I dreamed about the people and places I loved, tests I didn’t like, professors that inspired me, and weird twists on all of these people and places. But slowly, the dreams eventually ended. New people and places began to dominate my mind.
Like many people of my generation, college changed me. It was a rite of passage, or the closest to such a formal initiation that we had then in our culture. It didn’t lead immediately to a job. But it did nurture my life-long interest in philosophy, psychology and history. It was where I first learned to meditate, acted in my first play, had my first poem and story published, and participated in my first (20) political demonstrations.
It was on a school-arranged trip that I first flew to Europe, or first flew on any airplane anywhere.
It was also where I met 2 life-long friends, Al and Mark. For the last 41 years we have celebrated Thanksgiving together despite living in different cities. This year will be the 42nd.
And this year we decided to do it differently. We would first fly to Ann Arbor the weekend before Thanksgiving, meet with some old friends, see our old haunts, and even go to a football game. I hadn’t been to a football game since 1967. Then we would fly home, and a few days later drive with our families to one of our homes to celebrate our traditional Thanksgiving.
One of our old college friends, Steve, came to visit us at the house the 3 of us had rented. I had seen Steve only once since graduation, maybe 15 years ago. So when he came to the door, I was surprised by the joy I felt in seeing him. We hugged with sincere affection.
We sat in the living room and talked for hours. Steve led it off, talking about his life, his triumphs and frights. Words had been our door to the depths of our souls and we entered through that door once again. Then I told my stories, then Al, and Mark. Even though I had heard Al and Mark’s stories before, I didn’t feel “I heard all this already.” I felt I was hearing the stories for the first time, with a new twist, or as if their stories were my own.
We shared not only memories, but also a way of viewing the world. And a sound track, of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, the Stones, Beetles, and Leonard Cohen. A few words from a line of this sound track would come to one of us, to explain a feeling or event, and the others would complete it…
To read the whole post, please click on this link to the Good Men Project, which published it.