April 17, 2006 :: Peer Angst

Lately, my Myspace friends list has been taking off. A lot of guys I went to college with have been popping up on Myspace, most of them people I haven't seen since graduation. (I am an alum of the nation's only all-black, all-male college.) Graduation was ten years ago, in fact, and I have a reunion coming up next month. And I'm "angsty", as Gecko would say.

It is nice to see how people have done. Some of my most humble classmates have come up nicely... law degrees, PhDs, nice jobs, married, kids. They are the picture of what upper middle class Black America wants to be. Which is great and all, for them, but it makes me pause.

Funny, most of them probably expected I would have my PhD by now, and I guess I was supposed to. I languished in misery and depression through 3 1/2 years of grad school, after which time I decided I couldn't take it anymore and quit (although not empty handed, I made them give me a MS on the way out as my "consolation prize"). From there, I have drifted around a bit, a few different jobs. The dotcom crash killed my earning potential for a while, to the point that I just this month made it back to where I was in 2001 before it all went down. Some abortive relationships, nothing to write home about. Relocated to DC on a calculated whim, back in school working on yet another degree. Although I am much more focused on what I want now than I was then, I feel like I am doing things I should have been doing 10 years ago, which puts me behind the game a bit.

I know these reunions are somewhat of a pissing contest, in terms of seeing who has amassed the most wealth, most prestigious job, etc., and I have absolutely no interest in that. I guess there are a few folks I wouldn't mind speaking to, but most of them I wouldn't care if I saw them or not, as I have nothing to say. Those people I held close remain as friends, and I don't need a reunion to talk to them. While I am sure my salary puts me in the upper half (maybe upper 25%), I don't really feel all that wealthy and accomplished, probably because I spend it all and then some. That goes back to that grasshopper/ant thing, I guess. Maybe I will bring pictures of my trips to Europe and show them off the way people show off pictures of their kids.

At any rate, that is a concern for next month. This week, I'll be off to Vegas for a family reunion on my mother's side. We haven't had a reunion since I was about 5, so it should be interesting. I am concerned, though, that I need to figure out my stock answers ahead of time, so that when all the older family members start grilling me about why am I not married, why haven't I produced offspring, why am I still in school, that I have something to tell them. Ohhh, I'm not looking forward to that part. Plus my uncle wants to continue the argument we had about whether or not I should buy a house now (I say no, he says yes) that we started at my mother's wedding last year. But it will be good to see family nonetheless.

Of course, none of these things constitutes a real vacation, and that is exactly what I need right about now. Somebody find me a week in a sunny place where I can relax, and a nice way to finance it (since I owe DC $500 for red-light and speeding camera tickets, and it's due next month because my car tags are about to expire, and I'm already paying for these two trips plus travel to a wedding next month, my travel budget is pretty much nonexistent) and I am there.