I graduated from college in May 2003 (way to date myself, naw mean?). The dudes in this picture above were some of my best friends. One of my other best friends died. Other crews of people from that time I don’t hang out with anymore, in part because (1) time happens, (2) people have kids and move away, and (3) I got divorced in that time span and some of my college friends were tied to that, so, ya know, life.
So I graduate college specifically on May 17, 2003 (I have a good memory for dates). You guys want to know what I was doing 14 years later on the same day? I was moving from one apartment (that I lived in with my ex) to a new one (where I live now). I wrote this email about it at the time, and one thing I referenced in there was this cabin trip I took right after graduating college. It was mostly the same guys you see above, but it was late May 2003. So, 15 years ago. This picture above is from two weekends ago. 182 months. Lot of shit happens in 182 months. It’s the “Second Act” of life.
Ya don’t skip it.
Alright, so what does “same water” mean in this title?
Well, you see, in May 2003 I jumped into that lake behind us in that photo. I did the same in July 2018. It was Saturday morning, I was moderately hungover from playing beer pong with a bunch of mid-to-late-30s dudes that I would classify as some of the greatest human beings I’ve ever known, and what do you do at 7am in Western New York state with a moderate hangover but leap into a lake? I mean, right?
So, at the initial time I did this, no one else was really up. I’m a pretty strong swimmer (pats self on back), which as one of my friends pointed out is somewhat paradoxical since I’m from the Upper East Side of Manhattan, so I decide to swim out decently far. I mean, it helps with the hangover, you know?
I’m probably 100–150 yards off the dock, in the middle of this lake, dog-paddling, 7:30am on a Saturday, 182 months since I was last in that water. And I’m probably a person that thinks a lot more than they should about different shit, so I’m there dog-paddling and just taking in this general beauty and hoping no one busts out their power boat early and decapitates me, right?
I just start thinking about life, which is a tough thing to do when you’re dog-paddling in the middle of a lake hungover. But I still did it. And you just come to a lot of beauty in the realizations, honestly. I don’t mean this to sound weird, but I’m just thinking about like…
- Everyone has their own path
- Stuff happens at different intervals for different people
- You gotta go through some shit to find yourself
- People gonna die
- People gonna come and go
- You’re a strong enough piece of work to handle whatever needs to be handled
- The beauty is really in the journey more than the specific outcomes
I start swimming back towards the house; some of my people are rising.
On that swim, here’s what I’m thinking about: in May 2003, the biggest concern we had in that house was “Whoa, the college safety net is over, professional shit is beginning.” One person that 2003 weekend was headed to law school in the fall; another was headed to med school. I was going to Houston to teach elementary school in the inner city. The last thing one of my friends said to me that 2003 weekend was “Hey, don’t get popped for molesting any kids.” That’s 22 year-old humor. The most important thing to me on Friday night of the 2003 weekend was getting a Mavericks-Spurs score (playoffs, yo). I wanted it so badly that it became a joke at a 2007 wedding I attended.
Now, 2018 weekend? The people in this house have 10 children between them. People are 15 years into a career. Between us we’ve probably moved 15–20 times. You’re talking five marriages, one divorce (represent!), probably six breakups, aging parents, deceased friends and family already, a bunch of decent beer, cigars, steaks, probably more than a half-million in salary and we can’t figure out a Keurig…
… since this is already probably pretty self-indulgent, which is admittedly just the way I like Friday morning blogs, I’ll just leave you with this: life throws a lot of shit at you, and that’s true no matter who you are or how it looks from afar. You get by with a little help from your friends. And 182 months later, when every single thing seems and feels different, just remember: it’s the same water. You got this.