Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Time Doesn't Wait For Me...It Keeps on Rollin

It's often a strange feeling when an event you have trumped up and looked forward to for months finally arrives.  It's as if a huge weight is lifted, and only because the excitement and build up as you approach it dominates your thoughts and concerns so heavily.  You talk about it all the time, think about it all the time, find excuses to plan for it, although all the planning has already been done and you simply want to think about it and analyze it and talk about it even more than you already have.  Then, the day finally arrives...It doesn't even come close to meeting the outlandish expectations you had for it (how could it?), and then it passes...Like a shooting star burning up the night sky: You only realize you saw it after it's already disappeared.

Then you're left wondering...What the hell do I do now?

That's how I felt Sunday afternoon as I rode shotgun in Stan's Trailblazer, on our way back from my bachelor party weekend at Lake Cumberland.  My friends and I had spent the last three months talking about the bachelor weekend that was to be the cap to our summer...Despite the new members of the crew (Tim, Adam, Clay, and Thomas), it was going to be an old-school reunion: a dip into the Fountain of Youth.  We kept saying how wild it was going to be, how much we were going to laugh (which we did a lot...My jaw still hurts).  We watched the lineup of attendees morph and change more times than I care to count.  We looked at photos of the cabin rental enough times to memorize the pattern in the carpet.  And we discussed how much food would cover 12 people...Then bought enough for twice that.  We drove every point into the ground, spent so much time thinking and planning, only to watch the weekend come and go in what seemed like the blink of an eye.  I have to admit...It was a bit depressing.

I'm not sure exactly why that was the case.  There were a lot of contributing factors, I suppose.  Maybe it was the fact that our weekend at the lake (the one we had spent so much time anticipating and was so much fun) was over; it was time to go back to the real world Monday morning.  Maybe it was the fact I desperately missed my fiance.  Maybe it was simply the lingering effects of two days worth of binge drinking...They all definitely played a role.  But I think the main reason I was depressed come Sunday, was the realization that all the new memories we created and all the old ones we reminisced upon for those two short days were just that...Memories.

I'll take you back to a funny conversation Clay, DJ, and I had early Saturday afternoon.  The three of us were standing on top of our double-decker pontoon rental, enjoying the fact that our lingering hangovers from the night before were beginning to fade.  I don't exactly remember how the conversation got started; all I know is DJ and Clay were discussing something along the lines of insurance premiums or tax-deductible donations...Whatever the case, it was something that should never be a topic of discussion under the circumstances we were in.

I simply turned and looked at them and said, "You know...We all got really old, and weren't even aware it was happening."

They both laughed, nodded in agreement, and we joked about how, at some point in the last 4 or 5 years, our on-the-lake conversations had somehow moved from how many beers we could drink, or where all the women were, to how much our employers match on 401k contributions, or if we're getting a good deal on our monthly rent.  And, while it was meant to be a joke, I feel like it was something we all thought about a lot as the rest of the weekend unfolded.  I definitely did.

Things have changed.  The old days we tried so hard to emulate this past weekend have almost totally passed us by, and what little remnants that do remain are swiftly fading away.  As we led up to the weekend, we openly compared it to some of the weekends of yore...Acting as if this weekend would be like those, just because it was "supposed" to be.  I think we all knew that wasn't going to be the case.  And thank God it wasn't.

Don't get me wrong...This weekend was incredibly fun, from start to finish, despite the underlying level of exhaustion that undoubtedly impacted our ability to throw a marathon party.  But, it wasn't exactly what I expected it was going to be...In fact, if you had asked the 22-year-old me, I would have flat out thought it was lame.  I would have thought everyone went to bed too early, and everyone acted like a bunch of whiny babies.  Frankly, we just can't do it like we used to.

I was sitting on the deck under a crystal clear, starlit sky at around 2:00 AM Sunday morning when I began to think about that fact.  And, for the first time all weekend, I began to realize that I was perfectly okay with that.  I'm honestly not sure why any of us ever expected this weekend to be what we remember those weekends from our college days to be like.  We've all out-grown that, and I thought I had come to grips with that long ago.  Perhaps, for me at least, it was the heaviness of the fact that it was my bachelor party, or, that thought coupled with a day's worth of alcohol.  Regardless, I began to realize I was on the verge of a life-changing event.  And no matter how exciting that is (and believe me, it is) there is something inherently sad about leaving that old life behind.  It's like graduating from college or high school...No matter how exciting the next step is, there will always be things about the last one you will miss.

My friend Matt flew in from Portland, Oregon, and it was the first time I had seen him in 4 years.   And despite the fact we have always been very different people (capable of arguing about virtually anything), and despite the fact we had gone that long without seeing one another, it was like nothing at all had changed.  Although there were a few new faces in the crowd, it was like I had been whisked away to a July Saturday in 2005, sitting around a campfire, listening to classic rock, living life without a care in the world.

Those are the things I will miss.  I know that the nine of us that had the time of our lives this weekend could do that every summer for the next twenty years, and it would always be an absolute blast.  But, I also know it would be different.  And that's why I was a slight bit depressed as we traveled back from Jamestown on Sunday.  No matter how incredible the future may end up to be, it will never be the same.  There's a tinge of sadness to that.

I know I sound incredibly cynical, like a Bruce Springsteen song...Like the best days of my life are behind me.  But, in all actuality, that really couldn't be further from the truth; I know that the future is going to be amazing.  I really can't wait to see what it has in store for Adrienne and I.  I can't wait to marry her, and I can't wait to take that exciting next step.  In fact, I'm almost giddy to the point I can't stand it.  But, no matter how happy I am in my life, whether it's a month from now or 10 years down the road...Anytime I hear Tom Scholz's guitar wailing that first note of "Foreplay/Long Time," in my mind I'll be sitting around with my buddies, drinking a cold beer, and staring up at the stars with a smile on my face.

A few thoughts: I want to give a special thanks to the guys that made this weekend so awesome...Eric, Clay, Matt, Stan, Thomas, Tim, Adam...You guys are hilarious in so many different, unique ways, and it made the weekend as great a bachelor party as I could have asked for.

DJ...I don't even really have to say anything about you.  Thanks for putting it all together, thanks for being my best friend for life, and thanks for spooning with me at the end of th...I mean...Yeah, bro.  You rule.