All You Ever Wanted

A reunion of high school buddies turns from bragging about status to sharing deeper feelings.

We were a gathering of old friends, sharing stories and not-so-clear memories of high school days. I had temporary flashbacks of earlier times when we all sat around small tables in the local burger joint. Then, we were bold and brazen, willing to take on the world, bragging about how many girls we knew had a crush on us.

Lies, all lies. But who would challenge us on the truth?

This time things were different. I learned that evening that time doesn't fly, it zips by at the speed of light and suddenly comes to a halt when you see old friends.

There was enough bragging and ego to go around the table, but then, as if sitting in a confessional, the truth began pouring out.

Maybe it was my fault. I love asking questions. I have to admit I am good at doing interviews--I am a good listener and I really care about people. "Okay, now that we've talked about all the stuff we wanted each other to know, let's talk reality," I said. "How has life really been?"

Maybe we were all at that point in life where we needed to accept we were not infallible. Once one started, everyone shared stories of jobs lost and opportunities missed. But one friend really opened up.

"I had it good. I mean I was living like a king," he said. "Then I got stupid."

"Why do you feel that way?" I asked.

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"I had choices to make, and I made the wrong ones," he replied.

"What choices, Frank?"

"Marriage, friends...you name it. I turned my back on it all for money."

"What did you learn?" I asked.

He paused for a moment and then looked at me. "I learned that I needed them more than they needed me."

"They always needed you, Frank. Family, friends need each other to exist."

"Me and my money. Now I have little of that after the stock market plunge," he said ruefully.

"The great thing about growing older is the ability to right the wrong and see things more clearly," I said.

"Sure, just after your eyes go and your memory fades. You can't see as well and you forget what you did wrong anyway!" one friend said, laughing.

Then I asked the big question of everyone sitting there. "What do you want now?"

Some grumbled, laughed, and moaned. I heard the typical responses, like good health, long life, to hit the lottery, and happiness for their children.

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Bob Perks
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