Wednesday, April 30, 2008


it hit me last night at the most random moment. i was watching dancing with the stars "results show", one of my cheesy pleasures. the band def leopard was performing "pour some sugar on me" while the professional dancers on the show danced a paso doble. (if this is jibberish to you, just focus on the fact that the 80s glam rock band was singing one of their hit singles on the show and dancers were flitting about to the music.). as i was sitting there watching the banderilla steps and the one armed drummer , i mused aloud, "i don't really like this band. i didn't like them 20 years ago and i don't like them now."

then it hit me like a pile of cassette tapes: 20 years ago. i listened to this song 20 years ago. when i was in high school. a senior in high school. i graduated from high school 20 years ago. not about 20 years ago, but exactly 20 years ago. exactly. suddenly i started sweating even more than lead singer joe elliott and the paso doble gang. this year is my 20th year class reunion.

now, i must tell you. i don't freak out about age stuff. not normally, i should say. i freaked out last year when one of my mom's acquaintances turned a bright smile toward me. i freaked out just a little when i went to seminary and lived with people 10 years my junior. but these panic responses didn't last long; in the first case i didn't smile back and in the second i gained life-long friends from the experience. somehow, however, the thought that i have been out of high school for two decades made me jump from my chair and want to go highlight my hair. or do more yoga. or date someone in his early thirties.

what was the difference? undoubtedly a number of things. here are a few. certain landmark dates--like one's 20th year reunion--are meant to be heavy, thought provoking, even course-correcting. you are meant to look back to those "good 'ole days," reconnect with friends from the past, hope that you look roughly like you did back then (or maybe nothing like you did back then!) and take stock of how life has gone for you, while trying not to play the comparison game too much and while trying not to drink too much and embarrass yourself.

another factor in this is that i currently work with youth from three churches. ever since i started in this ministry last year i have had tons of funny moments to realize a) i could easily be these kids' mommy, b) i could help them with their "high school musical" outfits because i actually wore those clothes when i was their age, c) i no longer know the coolest lingo and the latest cool songs (or should I say, "tight" songs?). i now go to the junior department in stores to scope out clothes to make sure that what i wear doesn't make me look like an alien, and i surf for top 40 pop song charts on the internet to get in touch with what everyone's listening to on their iPods. it's not so much that i desire to be cool, uh, tight, it's that i realize that if i am to understand some of their world i must investigate it as an outsider. oh, and i must get a great deal faster at texting.
i'm not ashamed about getting older and i'm not ashamed of what's happened in my life these last 20 years (thanks be to god for his grace). but boy, (and i'm going to sound ancient in saying this) living in a culture that worships youth and youthfulness provides plenty of freakout-able moments, i'm realizing. i can either become emotionally gridlocked, lock myself in my room and watch molly ringwald movies or I can move forward with humor and humility. time passes for us all, even for the young among us (some day iPods and pdas will seem quaint and ancient).

oh, did i mention that i was class president somewhere in there and it's up to me and one other guy to plan our reunions? where's my breakfast club vhs...

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