Tag Archives: nostalgia

what’s not in the book

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.