on old friends from formative years


Last week I met up with Sarah, an old friend from architecture school, to catch up, not having seen each other for almost twenty years. Sarah was passing through town so we met at Nopalito for lunch. 

It was wonderful to see her. We ate and caught up (while her very patient best friend Jennifer kept Oliver busy). I was just amazed with the ease in which we could talk to each other. We have so much in commmon (we all grow to have more in common as we hover under and over the forty-year-old mark, don't we?). We are both architects with dozens of friends in common who lead dozens of different lives to talk about. We are both east coasters (you're an east coaster if you're from Pennsylvania, in my book). I could've stayed and chatted so much longer.

This has happened EVERY time I have gotten together with a long, lost friend from our days in the RPI School of Architecture. We were on an island called the Green Building in that giant engineering school, and we lived and breathed and treated each other terribly 24/7, sleeping in the studio and running amok all hours of the night. To the snowy soundtrack of Joy Division, The Smiths, Metalica, Ministry, Morrissey, The The, Echo and the Bunnymen, Peter Murphy, Marc Almond, etc. etc. etc. Drinking ourselves senseless and running the streets of Troy after last call (ahhhh, the days of 4:00 a.m. last call).

I have met up with several of my old classmates from those times over the last five or so years, and every time it has been lovely. The years just fall away. Every single person from that time feels like family to me.

Our unique situation had us all depending on each other for entertainment, escape from the geek circus that was RPI, and for safe walks home from studio late at night. I'm sure architecture school and the philosophies we may share from that curriculum have a lot to do with our bond. We also all loved and admired many of the same professors and students from a few classes ahead of us, the stars that always gave us something to aspire to, personally and architecturally.

But I wonder also if our bond might simply be because of our age, our getting to know each other so profoundly during our formative years. Had we all worked at McDonald's together instead of studied together for that extended five year period I think we would still be just as fast friends now. We were individuating from our families and forming our adult selves while we were in super-close quarters. I think we embedded ourselves in each other in a way that is not easily separated. I feel so comfortable around all of them. It's really remarkable.

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