Thursday, September 17, 2009

High School Reunions

Sunday morning, bleary-eyed and half awake, I stopped into the neighborhood Wawa to buy some coffee for a drive to Atlantic City for a writer's conference. Not my neighborhood, to be clear--Wawa doesn't reach this far. Kathy and I had stayed over at my mom's place the night before, so we were in my hometown Wawa.

And as I walked in, someone already in line said my name. I looked over, and for a moment, my first thought was "who's this man?" Because while I've seen my old friend John now and then since high school, it always takes a moment for me to connect our grown-up avatars with the kids I used to know.

Anyway, John, Kathy and I had a brief little chat, then he was on his way and soon we were on ours.

I think the encounter prepared my brain for later in the day. I was in a memoir-writing workshop that I was quickly realizing wasn't really for me, when i noticed a guy in the front row, and thought, "That's how Anthony looks his Facebook profile picture..." And the more I looked at him, the more I thought he was my old high school buddy Anthony -- someone I might've bumped into twice in the last twenty years. And as he turned around as the instructor was wandering the aisle, I caught his eye and was about to write his name and a question mark on a pad of paper. When he saw me, he said, "Holy shit! Rob?" and moved back next to me for the rest of the workshop, and we hung out for the rest of the conference.

With close friends--even long-lost ones--sometimes it's easy to fall into the same conversational cadences you've always had. At one point, during a discussion of the reasons and pitfalls of using pen names, Anthony said sotto voce, "I'm going to use your name as my pseudonym." I shrugged, and said it was only fair: "I leave your name on all my victims."

Ah, good times.


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