Today I received my class book for my upcoming ten-year Stanford reunion. The book is a compilation of pages alumni from my graduating class made about their lives since college. Since I am an absolute sucker for that kind of nostalgia, I tore it out of its envelope and spent the whole afternoon devouring its contents. Nom nom nom nostalgia, you are so tasty.
After absorbing a few hundred pages of my fellow alumni, I did start to feel a bit inadequate. After all, I had never dived the Great Barrier Reef, or built hospitals in Africa, or won an Olympic medal, or created my own start-up, or backpacked in Patagonia, or cut cancer out of grateful children. Then I realized I was being utterly absurd. Of course the pages would only feature the impressive achievements of seemingly well-adjusted people! For my own page, I didn’t very well write about the two and half years of harrowing pain that had me in & out of hospitals, the surgeries, the creditors calling about medical bills, the conviction that I was slowly dying, the loneliness, the terror. I mean, I didn’t want to be a bummer.
Once the book was closed I sat there wondering about all that was elided from those pages, about the people who didn’t send pages at all. Then I thought how grand it would be if all the pivotal moments from people’s lives had been included, even the tawdry and painful ones. Sentences like:
- I destroyed my marriage when I slept with my boss. I got promoted though.
- Last year I finally reached my weight loss goal. Cocaine is a hell of a drug.
- …but after my second stint in San Quentin was when I really began to make some bad decisions.
- This stifled suburban life makes me want to wedge a shotgun tightly under my chin and blow the back of my head off.
- The condom broke. I am expecting twins in August.
- The worm they removed from my large intestine was over three feet long.
- When my divorce finally came through, I rewarded myself by having a prostitute do all the things my wife wouldn’t. But now that burning rash on my scrotum won’t go away no matter what I do.
But no no, I am being foolish. Such things never happen to Stanford graduates. We are all exemplary. Everyone of us as beautiful and serene as the flower-heavy night wind rustling the palms on the main quad.
People who went to the Ivies though, they are fucked up.