I attended my 10 year college reunion in Providence this weekend and, in order to avoid holiday weekend traffic insanity, my friend, my fiancee and I took Amtrak.
While we successfully avoided traffic, we were not able to listening to other people’s conversations on the crowded train. The loudest conversations were being held by a crew that was pounding tall boys and headed to Brown for their five year reunion. Listening to them for a few hours contrasted sharply with the conversations my fellow tenners had over the course of the weekend and got me thinking about where and what you are at 5 years and 10 years after college.
The main observation is that fivers are much more showy … and insecure. The guys sitting near me spent the time talking loudly and emphatically about US federal court decisions against the government of Argentina, the pros and cons of Eurobonds and other master of the universe topics. I missed my own five year reunion but as I recall that time it was one when I was just starting to get a sense of how the world worked, discovering my proximity to certain powers and wondering how I stacked up in achievement to my cohort. While I don’t think I took those feelings to quite the same place as my train-mates, I think I understand why they were so intent on discussing such big and impersonal topics.
From my current vantage point — five years older, about to start a family, on a new career trajectory — I know that some of those guys will continue on the paths they’re on but I know that most will spend the next five years deviating to a greater and lesser extent and will become confident enough not to worry about their rank in the alumni class notes. At least that’s what I encountered with my classmates. Almost everyone seemed to be comfortable in their own skin and totally uninterested in keeping score. It was refreshing and welcome and a great weekend.