It’s not uncommon to see it on the faces of grandfather clocks or other timepieces, and it’s one of perhaps a handful of Latin phrases I know since I opted for French in high school and college. (I wasn’t interested in trying to master an ancient language that has little use in today’s world outside of juris prudence.)
In the afterglow of Saturday night’s 40th high school reunion, my mind kept landing on Tempus Fugit – time flies. (Or as originally written by Virgil, “it escapes, irretrievable time”.) It was apparent to me – and to many more, I’m sure — on Saturday night that time flew on three different levels.
The first is obvious, that being the relentless march of days, weeks … months, seasons and years until four decades had accumulated … life’s countdown clock stealthily and silently ticking while we bury ourselves in the day-to-day duties and drivel that occupy our waking hours. And as we all know, tempus seems to fugit a lot faster the older you get. It’s what those finishing life’s final lap always tell us – slow down … breathe deep … yesterday and tomorrow are worthless, only today is in play … embrace the things that matter most while you still have them. Good health, good love, good families, good homes, good memories and good friends … cherish what truly matters. And choose daily to be grateful and happy.
Yes, 40 years had passed as quickly as three forward clicks on the DVR remote; images whirling and swirling by, fleeting glimpses of familiar faces and experiences then suddenly catching up to today. To Saturday night.
How in the hell was it 40 years ago that we all graduated?
On a second level, time flew in the unintentional quick-hit, drive-by “conversations” I was able to have with many of my fellow classmates. And looking at our group photo, I realize how many friends I never even got the chance to hug and say hello to. They’d come in from Colorado and Florida, New York and Mississippi, Washington, DC and the Carolinas, The Bahamas and California, and who knows where else? Sadly, one arrived in a wheelchair – but he made it and that says a lot. There were about 75 of us, I’d guess. And many more were scattered across America (perhaps beyond) and fully present in spirit and in conversation. We missed you, we really did. Finally, there were 19 dear souls in the Heavens above who had left us far, far too soon but whose presence was also felt.
We were one helluva class, we really were. And still are.
The home setting was beyond spectacular and mild evening skies cooperated quite nicely. Beer and wine flowed in far more moderate streams than perhaps it did for many back in high school. Food was excellent and a throwback photo loop on a wall-mounted flat screen elicited a series of “Oh, my Gods”, laughter, and “I remember that!” Obligatory period music from the early-to-mid ‘70s filled the air and, damn, music was just fun back then. Two members of the class behind us stepped up last minute to pinch-hit as friendly bartenders when the original crew had to bail.
Throughout the evening, it was difficult to even tend to necessary matters – either the lure of tasty hors d’oeuvres, a refreshed beverage, or the call of nature – without being stopped by your name being heard in a warm “Come over here!” fashion, or without seeing a mostly familiar face and detouring to share a hug, a laugh, and a little catch-up time. A simple, 30-step journey to the restroom might involve a half-dozen stopovers.
I must’ve said, “You haven’t changed a bit!” dozens of times – and I meant it. I couldn’t believe how well my classmates had weathered life’s inevitable storms and retained so much of their youthful spirit and appearance. And there were some among us who looked like they could strap on the football pads or settle into the sprinter’s blocks and pick right up where they left off. This group washes up, quite nicely.
But like a bride and groom at their own wedding reception, the evening’s conversations were many but not nearly long enough or deep enough. The reconnection is made but the yearning, heart-to-heart question, “How are you?” doesn’t have near enough time to satisfy the caring, genuine concern.
Like a flat rock across a placid pond, I skipped steadily from friend to friend, conversation to conversation, topic to topic before time once again passed too quickly and the end of an incomparable evening was nigh. Like all great things – concerts, feasts, ballgames, family gatherings, holidays – I wanted more. Isn’t that what marketers say ..? Leave ‘em yearning for more, and you’ve delivered on your promise.
I am so grateful to our hospitable hosts who so kindly welcomed us into their beautiful home … to the committee of ladies who organized everything down to the tiniest detail … to those classmates who spent time and money to journey home … and for all the hugs and handshakes, laughter, memories, smiles and the warming of my heart that had maybe forgotten just how much my high school friends and experiences meant to me – and mean to me today.
Tempus fugit … way too fast.
“May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rain soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.”
An Irish Blessing