“It’s something unpredictable, but in the end is right,
I hope you had the time of your life.”
– Good Riddance (Time of Your Life), Green Day 1997
This is not a short story.
This time of year does something to me. Maybe it’s the darkness, the barren trees, the smell of damp in the air. Maybe it reminds me of… something. I’m walking across campus, hauling my backpack, thinking about final exams and the end of the college semester. There’s a big party tonight at the off campus apartment building. It’s the last day before break. Everyone will be there.
I am nostalgic and wistful. When I left my hometown many moons ago, I lost touch with my old friends. It happens. People move on. Once in a while you get news. The University newsletter. Lenny died in the World Trade Center. He was in the North Tower. He left a wife and two babies behind.
I had three really good guy friends in college. They were totally platonic relationships that never, ever hinted at turning romantic. We were the best of friends. For a while, anyway. And then…
“Michael,” I said. “I don’t understand. What are you saying?” He wouldn’t look me in the eye. “I’m saying Suzanne doesn’t believe we can just be friends. She says I have to choose. It’s either her or you. I’m sorry, Meg I love her.”
Hugh dated a pretty girl, wealthy and well connected. He got married and moved away but not before I danced with him at his wedding. His bride was a little more tolerant of me. Kurt is dead. I never heard what happened. His obituary was vague. “…died suddenly at his home…” I wonder if Mike and Hugh found out in time to go to the funeral. I wish I had.
This time of year, I wonder if they’re traveling back to our hometown to see their families. I wonder if they kept in touch with each other. If maybe they’ll meet up for a drink at that bar we always went to on Thursday nights. I hope that if they do, they’ll think about me. “Remember that time we all went camping and Meg’s coat caught on fire?” Laughs. “Or the time she tried to crowd surf and we dropped her?” I hope they’ll look back with fondness on all the good times we had together. I, at least, had the time of my life.