Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The In-between Moments

The 25th anniversary of Smartmom's college graduation is coming up this June. It's hard to believe it's been 25 years since the day the great I.F. Stone, that iconoclastic journalist and critic of the Cold War, McCarthyism, and the Vietnam War, spoke to her class of 1980 at SUNY Binghamton.

She can't remember a word he said but she does remember that his commencement speech was quite long and characteristically controversial, as it elicited boos from some parents in the audience. Their reaction disgusted and embarassed her.

Smartmom's twin sister, Groovy Aunt, went to a different college so Smartmom hasn't a clue who spoke at her graduation because their graduations were on the same day. Groovy Grandma went to Smartmom's graduation, while Groovy Grandpa went to Groovy Aunt's. They were divorced so it was probably better than way.

While Smartmom is not sure if she will be attending her 25th reunion in October, Groovy Aunt is planning to go to hers. She got a questionaire in the mail that asked something like: "So, what have you been doing since graduation?"

To Smartmom, it seemed like a horrendous exercise in personal reductiveness. A friend who went to college with Groovy Aunt said she took one look at that questionaire and knew that she was incapable of filling it out. "I'm having a mid-life crisis, I wasn't going to sit there and do it," she said.

Those kind of reunion questionaries invite boasting, whether it's about your spouse, children, career, or creature comforts. You feel like you've really gotta impress all those people you went to college with: Look how great my life is. Look at my kids. Look where I live. Look at my degrees. Look at my job. Look how much money I make!

But still, it got Smartmom thinking: WHAT have I been doing since the day I.F. Stone spoke to my class in the Broome County Arena? What fabulous resume can I whip out to impress my peers, what personal biographical detail will just wow them all....

Hmmmm.

Well...

Ahhhh....

Seriously, how does one honestly characterize a quarter century of one's life? Is it all really just a list of degrees, courses, jobs, projects, addresses, and names. Are we nothing more than our resumes?

What about the interstitial life - the life that goes on between the lines of all the other stuff. The little discoveries we make about ourselves; the conversations we have with friends on the phone; the surprising moments we have with our children on the way to the store; an inside joke told over and over; the words of a wise therapist; getting proposed to at Two Boots Restaurant on Avenue A; an ephiphanic walk across the Brooklyn Bridge; stopping at the National Poultry Museum while driving through Kansas; hearing Caetano Veloso and Ornette Coleman in concert and Patti Smith at CBGB's ; a memorable meal in a small Tuscan town; Teen Spirit and OSFO's first words...

What of the life we live concurrent to the resume life. The life of our hearts, our minds, our sensations? Our attempts to just BE.

3 Comments:

At 10:03 AM, Blogger mamainwaiting said...

yes, what about them? I would like to hear more...

 
At 12:59 AM, Blogger Savtadotty said...

I guess it depends on whether you're curious enough about your classmates, or nostalgic enough about your college days. You might be too busy being.

 
At 4:43 AM, Blogger red eft said...

You should put this great essay in your questionnaire, and continuie with your cataloguing of those moments. Everyone will appreciate having the agenda shifted to what is most important.

 

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