This afternoon the Courthouse Athletic Club didn't look like it usually does. Balloons and other decorations yelled "Party!"
A fellow senior citizen who I often see in one of the weight rooms asked me if I knew what was going on. "High school graduation," I told him. "I think either South Salem or Sprague High School uses the club for a party every year."
Driving home, I saw a car with a big 2013 marked on the back window.
To prove to myself that I wasn't too senile to do some math in my head, I calculated how many years separated this year's high school graduation class from mine.
Um... 1966 is 34 years from 2000... add on 13... 47 years! Hadn't realized until then that my 50-year high school reunion would be coming up in just three years -- not that anyone is interested in organizing this.
Watching youngish-looking parents bustle around the club preparing for the party (at my age, just about everyone looks young), I got to thinking about how I used to believe in reincarnation. And why.
I'd like to have another crack at life. I'd like to graduate from high school again. I'd like to be a teenager looking at the sign afixed to the men's locker room door: it said something like "Life Ahead," showing lines and arrows with various branching directions.
For me, a 64 year old baby boomer, the direction of my life is pretty much settled.
Sure, there are all sorts of unpredictable twists and turns ahead. But where I've been is, mathematically and logically, a much longer journey that where I have left to go.
(Unless I live to be older than 128... virtually impossible unless I can sell my soul to the Ageless Fairy in exchange for an extended life span, something I'm totally willing to do, by the way... hope she reads blog posts.)
After seeing that 2013 on the car window I realized that graduating from high school now is a heck of a lot different from how us in the Class of 1966 experienced the world after graduation.
I headed to San Jose State College. Started taking classes in the fall of 1966.
Not quite a year later was The Summer of Love in close-by San Francisco. It felt like the world was changing. Because it was. We flower-bedecked LSD-taking marijuana-smoking hippies were going to alter the Earth's rotation, change the seasons, institute whole new ways of doing things, start a revolution!
Sure, we were psychedelically and politically delusional. But I sure enjoyed the illusion while it lasted. There never was a time like the late 1960's, especially in the place that was the San Francisco Bay Area.
Today Obama speaks about hope and change. Back then we were living it; more... we felt we were it. When I neared my college graduation I remember thinking, "I always want to live close to a university; I never want to be away from young people like me who are changing the world."
I did get away, though. I was married young, had a daughter soon thereafter, bought a house in Portland, Oregon a few years later.
When I look at my "Most Likely To Succeed" photo taken at the end of my high school senior year, I wonder, have I succeeded? Immediately followed by an antidote to that ridiculous wondering: Who the hell cares, or can say?
Like Popeye (I sure loved my childhood comic book collection), I yam what I yam. We all are. I have no doubt that graduates of the Class of 2013 are going to have marvelously interesting lives, just as my Class of 1966 did.
I hope they also will feel that they're changing the world.
Baby boomers like me are so self-centered, it's tough for us to imagine that there ever will be another cultural movement like The Summer of Love. Each generation needs something like that, though -- a feeling that now we're going to show those old folks how the world should be.
Keep it up, Class of 2013. Change yourselves. Change the world. And never stop changing. Even when you're 64.