We are at our 20th college reunion, but we are not fully here. We are here with the ghosts of ourselves. We are walking around the lake with the 20-year-olds we were. They are wearing shorter shorts. They have stronger legs. They have never had lower back problems.
We go into the beer tent. The ghosts cannot come in. They wouldn’t anyway because we are the old alumnae and we are the ones who make them point and laugh and swear they will never be like us. They are sure that they will get good jobs and excel and make enough money before they – if they ever do – get married, have children, live in houses, learn about irrevocable trusts.
Everything is ahead of them. But they can’t come into the beer tent, so here we are, just us.
Just us, minus one. We are all thinking, as we sip our beers, eyes darting around the tent to see who else is here, about the space she leaves in our circle. We are lucky to have invisible threads that have kept us together for decades, but she was the one who did the best job of connecting the threads, and she is gone. We do what we can without her, moving on with our lives scattered all over the world.
Then a former classmate sees us standing together and jostles us and wonders where she is. Surely she has come to the reunion, too! She was, after all, the life of the party.
And we look at each other, and we all think in our different ways that we should have talked about this before we came here. We should have discussed a strategy. We should have determined what to say when this happened. Because of course it is happening.
Because now we have dead friends, and a child who is in second grade and knows how to spell “encyclopedia,” and broken marriages and fixed marriages, and the New Jersey Turnpike in the snow, and a cleaning lady, and advanced degrees, and parents who have long term care insurance. We have chocolate ice cream, and enough money to pay cash for our trip here, and we have each other, still.
We might have 20 more years, or five, or 40. Outside the beer tent, our ghost selves are just memories.
Kim Tracy Prince is a freelance writer in Los Angeles. Read her blog at kimtracyprince.com/about-me