I am in process of (maybe) agreeing to a ‘boys’ weekend’ with my old college friends. This is not something I undertake lightly… weekends are precious.
Despite what hundreds of buddy movies would have you believe (think Hangover), a weekend with your old college buddies is not necessarily a roller coaster ride of hilarity, hi jinx and debauchery interspersed with deep moments of spiritual self-reflection and connection.
We would all like to believe that our close friends will always be our close friends (which, I think, can be true) and that that you can reconnect once every year of two to recapture the good old days in a seamless weekend that picks up where 1997 left off (this, I believe, is very difficult).
The fact is… we are different people in our youth than we are as adults. Our experiences change us. As we age separately through the years we evolve: in the degree to which we open up to people; the types of activities we like; and our conversational interests. In the blink of an eye (over 20 years) we become very different people. So, while we can still feel close to the friends we had when we were young, it is less likely to be because we enjoy each other’s company than it is a sense of nostalgia and past loyalty.
Let me make this more real. One of these guys recently went through a messy divorce. The six of of were the first people he reached out to for support and it was given without hesitation – nostalgia and loyalty. But God… it was soooo awkward. It made me realize, as much as I want to support him, I don’t really know him.
And this gets to the second point. What is it like when we are all together. Awful! Maybe its just me (and in all of their defence, I am the one who has likely changed the most), but the past guys weekends have been a real dud. Everyone drinks themselves into a stupor because they are getting a cathartic release from their relationships and their day to day life (I cannot relate to this – I love my day to day life). No one likes to discuss anything real like relationships and emotions (I love discussing emotional topics). We default to politics and sports because its impersonal (I love debating politics, but its gets old fast and I find sports discussions meaningless).
We try hard to make these weekends work, doing the ‘guy stuff’ – steak dinners, strip clubs. We even started to add a more physical activity during the day (rock climbing, canoeing, paint ball) but, to be honest, people were probably too hung over to reality appreciate it and we are in wildly different physical condition, so it was a little embarrassing for some.
So, why do I do these weekends? At one level its out of a sense obligation to old friends… which is fine. But, more importantly, its a sense of optimism… the hope that the real connections we had when we were young can be recaptured. That somewhere under the 20+ years of life experience, there are the kernels of what attracted as all to one another when we were young. I may be a little obsessed with holding onto my youth, and maybe this is one of the many ways I try to do so, fully aware that it may be an act of futility.