Some astute Class of ’79 grads brought their Indicator yearbooks to our 25-year high school reunion today. I didn’t buy a yearbook or class ring when I trailed away from Stuyvesant back then, and that was the last yearbook to include my picture (I’m not in my college book, by design). School spirit has never been my thing; I’m not quite sure why I’m here sticking on my name tag this morning; but here we are, and there are bagels. When I get around to flipping through the pages, there I am, looking much like myself but 25 years thinner. I didn’t realize my picture was in there at all.
“We tend to overlay grown-up wisdoms across the blanker selves that the young actually proffer,” writes Mary Karr in Cherry. Wise words. Certainly Linus at that age looks piercing, calm in his certainty that his future in this best of all possible worlds will turn out well. Probably I was just thinking about girls.
I remember how much I hated the photographer’s contorting instructions – right shoulder down, tilt your head, chin to the left, whatever it was – and it was probably then that I decided I would not rent a blue cap and gown for graduation. I was the only soul wearing white in the current of blue at Carnegie Hall (we graduated about 750 to a class at the time). A few years later when it was time for my acting headshots I knew the drill and it seemed natural enough. By then, I had already worn a rental cap and gown to Commencement at college, so I was more accustomed to the static taste of compromise.
A strange afternoon, then, wandering through the building that once held – barely – a few years of concentrated life. The hallways by the Student Union office, where I learned to pick through “I’m Easy” and “By Your Side” and “Million Dollar Day” on guitar, bear no mark of my passing. Once upon a time I knew which circuit-breaker turned out the overhead lights in the side Red Room off the stage; the lurid glow from the Exit sign dubbed the room and made it a titillating spot to be caught smooching. Now the door to the stage wings is locked, which is all the metaphor I’m going to make of it right now.
Back out to our ’79 dinner; the switch from caffeine to alcohol should be good fun.