Something strange and poignant experienced at a birthday party the other night for two people, one 50 years old, the other 60. I’m acquainted with these people only by marriage, people my husband knew years and years ago.
The evening consisted mainly of eating and drinking and watching old videos from plays they had all staged together more than 20 years ago.
They seemed transfixed by these images of themselves, when they were so much younger, thinner, more virile and alluring, happier, better… They seemed fascinated by a glimpse at times passed.
Because I hadn’t known them then, and hardly know them now, I only felt faintly what for them was clearly an acute sense of the inexorable passage of time in their lives. Some laughed, some remained quiet, another cried although everyone pretended that it was for some other reason.
Oddly, for me it seemed like a succession of images just passing by.
Except that I, too, know so very well life’s slicing bite of impermanence. (I was younger 20 years ago, too.) I sat there at once observing their ache (despite their various masks of humor, nostalgia, denial) and feeling my ache in theirs and theirs in mine.
And so I realized that, yes, I know them after all.