I have a fairly dismissive view of my high school, with its snobberies and vanity and bottomless self-congratulation. I have an even more scornful attitude to its ex-students' association, which seems to consist of people who peaked in high school and can't move on at all.. Nevertheless, it was a bit of a shock to get a message out of the blue from a person who was my friend in high school with a dinner invitation:
I suppose it was inevitable that I would refuse the invitation. These are people to whom I've not spoken in over a decade. And so much has changed for me - so much has changed me - that I would be basically a stranger to them and vice versa. Divorce ... loss of children ... moving to the country and back to the city ... near-ruin financially ... a couple of fatal accidents ... No sir, I'm not the man I used to be. I thought about replying with an excuse. I could have claimed to be running a trial in Warrnambool that week. And then I thought be buggered to that. I'm not going to pretend to be what I no longer am.
Zaphod banged the console in fury, oblivious to the dumbfolded looks he was attracting. "The old me is dead!" he raved, "Killed himself! The dead shouldn't hang about trying to interfere with the living!"
- Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at
This was the reply I sent -
I'm not going to lie: I feel proud of myself over this. I know what I am, with warts and scar tissue and armour-plating and all. I know what sorts of relationships - friendly and otherwise - I will find rewarding. And I have not compromised for the sake of some sort of bollocks about school days being the best days of your life.
Forty years on, when afar and asunderThe past can stay right where it is. I'm doing just fine without it.
Parted are those who are singing today,
When you look back, and forgetfully wonder
What you were like in your work and your play,
Then, it may be, there will often come o’er you,
Glimpses of notes like the catch of a song –
Visions of boyhood shall float them before you,
Echoes of dreamland shall bear them along