8/5/13

A Dozen Years . . .

That's me. Directly above the bride. Weighing in at a cool 500 pounds.
My date for the wedding? Snacks.
I went to college with everyone in this photo (except the eight people who are clearly parents of some of the rest of us). The bride and groom are my dear, beloved friends Christopher and Michele Delenick. They live, with their three amazing kids, in Portland, Maine.

I introduced Chris and Michele and spent the next several years trying to chase Michele (very unfairly_ out of my life. For those who think I'm even a remotely good person - Michele has seen the dark side. And she was beautiful and gracious even in the face of it (we've since made up - you can read more about it here) and this post is not actually about what a jerk I was to Michele for many, many years. No. It is more about the sinking feeling that grows darker in my heart all the time that I'm really, really living in a vacuum of my own self-focus. Because - to my earlier point - I went to college with everyone in this photo (or their children) and I honestly don't know if I could name them all (my circle of friends, surely).

That would not be a big deal if we went to a huge college with 50,000 undergrads and where a friend dating a woman didn't mean you ever even had to meet her friends but Quinnipiac had 3,200 students when we were there and my circle overlapped with Michele's circle in a lot of ways and I KNOW - in 2001 - I knew them all. Could tell you their full names and where they were from (New England, Long Island, Pennsylvania, or Houston - to be clear). I knew what they studied (mass communications, business, occupational therapy, physical therapy - more than likely). I knew if they were in relationships and I knew what their favorite drinks and/or bands were (Yuengling and Dave Matthews Band, statistically) and I knew them all well. I had a HUGE crush on the woman on the far left (squatting down) but that's for another post and another day.

For now, I'm way more annoyed with myself that I can't name everyone in this photo (I was also best man in the wedding of the couple of the last guy seated on the right and his wife in the black dress to the far right of the photo but I don't even know them anymore and have no idea how many kids they have or what their names are, etc.).

Sure - sure. To lose track of people is "natural" and is not something to be embarrassed of (as I've already been reassured by two other people in the above photo) but these are not just "people" that I vaguely knew in junior high. These are not people that I crossed paths with at an internship. These are not just random buddies that came and went from my life - these are people I shared three full years of the BEST YEARS OF MY LIFE with on a comfortable 200 acres in wooded Connecticut. These people KNEW me. Many of them protected and helped me in ways I can not even really explain. Three of the men in that picture and my still sorta-wife are the only reason I'm even alive today. I was not suicidal - I was eating myself to death and miserable beyond relation. These men conspired to save my life. And it worked. And I can't even tell you the names of everyone in this photo  . . . which I can still remember being taken - it was near the end of the reception still absurdly hot - I was probably the only one of us from Quinnipiac who had had zero alcohol that day and was also probably the only one that had thrown his rented tuxedo shoe in the fountain and refused to fish it back out (the heel broke on it and I was fat and hot. We vowed to send it in to our college for them to run in the alumni magazine and Bruce (the guy sitting on the laps of the bride's parents for NO apparent reason) made a very, very funny joke just before the photographer snapped away.

I don't know why I'm so bothered by this. I should not be. It has been 15 years since we graduated and 12 years since we were all last together. I've lived a full lifetime of events in that time. I'm sure they all have, too. For all I know several of them saw this photo on Facebook and thought "I don't recognized that mountain of flesh looming above Michele" so we're even. But then, as one of the people who gave me consolation tonight pointed out . . . "You were always bigger than life, man. No one ever forgets you no matter how or why or for good or bad that they remember you." Um. Thanks?

Anywho - happy anniversary to the Delenicks. THANK YOU for allowing me to be part of your special day and I hope your love lasts forever - as clearly my memory will not.