I remember being friends. Things were different then and so were we. Sure, the world was fucked – it’s always been – but we could deal. Now, you’re there and I’m here. We’re the parallel lines the teacher used to talk about; never intersecting and slanted slightly so we drift toward different corners of the grid.
We’re so far off the center that even calculators can never find our dots. Sure, a teenager in Trig might scroll and scroll absentmindedly in a daydream haze but it won’t matter. He’ll only find the faintest trail of something that no longer is and can’t return.
My mind goes back to the last time I saw her. She was in a cap and gown and it seemed as if we’d meet again. But things aren’t always what they seem.
We talked over movies with another friend. I had mistaken one actor for another and felt dumb, but I still smiled. Or maybe I edited a smile in my memory. In retrospect I don’t see how I could have frowned. I was young and I had everything. If I messed up I could just start over and no one would think twice. I believe they call that leeway.
The line. We had to find our spots in it. We waved goodbye and got in place. One by one they shook our hands and sent us to our destiny. I wish now I could have shouted out to them; don’t drive the car two years from now… don’t try the heroine, just stop at weed… don’t marry him he drinks too much.
I’m thankful she turned out all right. It’s always amazing when someone makes all the right choices. She went to graduate school and eventually got married. He’s not the most caring husband but he’s never took a shot at her. More than most can say.
She’s walking to the stage, she’s gotten her diploma. Now she’s climbing down the steps and mixing with the crowd that might as well be the entirety of the world and all the years since.
My turn. I went up and shook hands, the owners of which I can’t recall. I got some paper inside a portfolio that we had prepared ourselves earlier that year. But now I’m too jaded to find any sort of joy in it. It was less a celebration and more the deep breath before the plunge, despite the fact a cute sophomore girl, now living in Japan, had made the effort to call out to me.
I watched the rest of the procession, which seems so artificial in the current light. It was like some sort of living funeral, as we suffered through kind words and then, the burial. The principle, teachers were pallbearers that carried us to graves with the epitaph reality.
The last student descended and all took to the crowd. I looked for her feverishly to share that last moment of joy to no avail.
Yet, as I and everyone else around me threw our hats and tassels in the air, the moment of airborne serenity was in essence our friendship. The swinging fibers so alive and high reached their zenith and then as life and love will always do – they fell. Cascading down they tangled with a hundred others, so that even those of us desiring some token of our time devoted could not make out the ones we threw. And, as some, like me searched feebly in vain, others left contented – not looking as the janitor began to sweep up caps with dirt and other trash.