I tried to take a power nap — something my normal 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. sleep schedule doesn’t need — but I just couldn’t. As I tried to slow my mind down and ease it into the subconscious zone, it kept whipping up images of friends’ lovely faces and I knew I heard laughter in the distance. I was at my five-year college reunion and I didn’t want to miss a single moment with my beloved friends.
For months leading up to the weekend at Skidmore College, we’d shared silly messages and old photos and videos — counting down the days until we’d all be together again. As I lay there in the dorm room bed, I couldn’t help feeling like I’d gone back in time, yet I was acutely aware that it would all be over much too soon.
I felt like we’d all fallen down the rabbit hole — back into the carefree, fun-loving and ever adventurous selves from our youth. And it was funny to think that nine years after we all first met, despite all the growing up we’d done, we were right back where we had started. I should note that while we daydreamed about squatting on campus for the rest of our lives, the truth is that we have aged, and none of us would honestly be able to keep up the same on-the-go, virtually sleepless lifestyle, as we had back then. Many of us have significant others, career paths and new dreams that we love, but stepping back into my college self for that brief moment in time felt insanely liberating.
Paul Bloom wrote an exceptional article for the Atlantic called “First Person Plural,” about how having multiple selves is part of our psychological make-up. As I swept the house and did the dishes Sunday evening, donning an adorable apron my future sisters-in-law had given me, I realized how true this was. Bloom writes:
We used to think that the hard part of the question “How can I be happy?” had to do with nailing down the definition of happy. But it may have more to do with the definition of I.
I have to tap into the multiple aspects of me. And remembering who I was and who I can be in various settings leads me to a better, more comprehensive understanding of who I am, and what makes me happy.
My Skidmore family is everything to me, and without getting to see them a few times a year, I realize now more than ever how much of myself I would be losing. As Tara Parker Pope noted in the New York Times Well blog, called “What are Friends for? A Longer Life,” friends aren’t just there for emotional support — their presence very literally lengthens and enriches my life. I’m sad that our weekend of bliss had to come, but excited for the weddings (which are rapidly accruing), engagements and gatherings that are in the midst. With every reunion, we seem to grow closer, stronger, more intact and more joyful. We have a long journey to look forward to, and I’m eternally grateful that I have such close friends to have set sail with.