Bill and I spent most of the day revisiting buildings. My dorm smelled the same as it always had and it brought back memories, an old girlfriend that I never slept with, and other regrets. We ran into Eric Bonner. Remember him? I had to kick him out of that party for trying to light firecrackers. He was really drunk and had no choice but to stumble out at my forceful order. We served the beer, and then afterwards did shots of cheap vodka on the steps of Aspinwall. He tells us now that he spent last night hiding from campus police. Some things don’t change.
The reunions are on graduation weekend, so seniors mingled with those of us from previous decades at the traditional tent party the night before the ceremony. I was surprised by the almost forgotten smell of clove cigarettes, a fad passed down from class to class, apparently. A girl I liked once convinced me to take a drag. Nice, yes, what are you trying to do, turn me into a smoker?
We used to sneak into Aspinwall and pull all-nighters, or hang out, a nice quiet hideaway. Let’s go, she says. I don’t have to be shy, I’m married, with three kids and I don’t want anything from her. It’s not that she’s not attractive. That’s not why I wouldn’t cheat. It’s because it isn’t worth hurting people that I love. I know that regret will follow. I know that I wouldn’t be able to look my wife in the eye and tell her that I would never do that, if she ever asked me.
We hung out in an Aspinwall classroom where students spend their days sitting around oval tables discussing literature. I felt young again, but like I wished I had been, not like I was. We opened a window and had a good view of the campus. Students walked by below us. Our arms touched as we stuck our heads out and breathed in fresh air. She lit a joint, and it was 1990 again. I had been here yesterday, I could swear to it. I knew I was married, I still remembered that, but at the same time I saw myself in her young skin. She kissed me, and I said to myself, “how could my wife judge me for something that happened before I met her?”
We made love, but the moment it was over, I knew the mistake. I was not a child. I found Bill that morning, and when he asked me where I had been I said nothing. We left that afternoon for home. This would change everything, even if I could hide it forever. Things will never be the same, just like I knew they wouldn’t.