| LifeTakes |

2020

We rolled it off our tongues: “Twenty-twenty.” Distant and foreign sounding and a million miles away

 

We graduated high school in 2010. The silly songs we sang, the ditties we chanted, they were easy to rhyme — they all ended triumphantly with twe-eee-nty-ten.

That last week, we sat with our autograph books and souvenirs for hours, lingering in the school corridors after the bell, holding onto the minutes, stalling. Trying to still time, distill time into these moments together.

Some of us got it. So many of us didn’t —  that these were the last half-hours in safety, in childhood, in uniform.

That we’d walk out free women, no one hovering over us with late slips, demands, rebukes. Where were you? Why isn’t this completed?

That we would have to ask it of ourselves. Or not ask. And live with the consequences.

On the second last day, we heard of a tragic helicopter crash, of a father and son who died on impact.

“Who knows,” we asked each other, “what’s in store for us?”

“Imagine it was your father, your husband, your son,” said the more dramatic girls.

What did we know of husbands and sons? What did we know of life? How many had tasted that bitter medicinal syrup; the healing that stretched you until you thought you’d snap?

But we cried. Maybe for the father and son, maybe for ourselves. Some cried hysterically, about leaving, about missing each other, about paths we would walk alone.

Someone else brought an onion for those who couldn’t cry.

“What’s going to be?”

“Let’s plan a reunion to see how it all panned out,” someone threw out.

“When?”

“Next month.”

“No, silly, in a while. Ten years at least.”

“2020.”

We rolled it off our tongues: “Twenty-twenty.” Distant and foreign sounding and a million miles away.

“Who knows where we’ll be then?”

Seems two girls did. They planned it out to the tee in an article in our yearbook titled 2020. Where everyone would be. What we’d be doing, husbands, kids, etc.

Everyone got rosy lives. Some rosier than others, based on the whims of two girls doubled over on the carpet with popcorn and pens, plotting lives.

We laughed when we read it then. It was funny, it made sense.

And then, life happened.

That first year of working, teaching for some — the big wide, chutzpahdig world. Two years, five, eight, ten.

Day upon day. So much joy. And pain, too. Because the more you have the more you stand to lose. Humdrum life in between, days of cleaning kitchens, organizing cupboards.

On one such day, I find the yearbook.

I flick pages. Low quality pictures, pixelated images that tell so many stories. And articles, all those articles and poems and odes to principals and teachers. And there it is: “2020.”

I laugh out loud. The calendar reads January 5th, 2020.

We are here.

I scan the text. How many have lived up to the article?

I have to laugh — the girl they said would be coming straight from the rebbe’s tish, that ardent chassidesteh, had married out of the chassidus. The ones that would be neighbors still, they live 6,000 miles apart.

But some things are true to their prophecies. It’s not like I’m still in contact with all these girls — women. I don’t know everyone’s married name. Not everyone is even married. But hey, maybe, she still would say that. And yes, her life is just like they’d described.

(I look at my own and roll my eyes. Mishpacha writer they’d predicted. Duh.)

I think of the 30 women who’d turn up to the reunion, whenever it would be. Pesach probably, when most come back to spend it with parents from wherever they’d made their own homes. The ones who it was predicted would move away, and the ones who surprised us.

The messages come in over the next few weeks. Should we? Could we? Where, what and when?

And I quail. We’re too young for this. This reckoning of sorts, this am I up to par?

But if we’ve learned something over the last decade it’s that there is no par.

Still, 2020’s here, and it’s inevitable that we’ll meet. That we’ll mark this in the sand. A rite of passage, a check-in.

I can see it, those two women, today a mechaneches and a company director, reading the old 2020 article out loud with gusto. We’ll listen, but what will we hear between the dated lines? Behind the best sheitels, nicest tops, and swinging handbags would be all the things that were never written in the yearbook, but happened anyway. We’ll laugh and pretend and likely have a great evening regardless.

I don’t know about 2030 or even 2050. But I know this: No one’s going to be presumptuous enough to predict again.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 680)

 

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Tagged: Life Takes