Where have the years gone?

24 Jan

Last night I went to my friend Seth’s house to celebrate his 38th birthday. It’s rare that I feel old, but I was struck by how much has changed in the last twelve years since I met Seth.

I interviewed and hired Seth in 1998 for a role as a creative recruiter at e-staff. I was new to DC myself, having just moved here the previous year, so I was sympathetic as he struggled to adjust to the culture, find an apartment and make friends in a sea of transient residents. As a result of these circumstances, it was probably inevitable that we would become friends. And it probably set the tone for my subsequent hires at e-staff, because two years later I had a team of about nine people (almost all under the age of 30) working together as the company’s most profitable branch and partying together every night because we were friends.

Ten years later - all grown up. Back: Steven, Alison, Seth and Adam. Front: Dan, Krista Tony.

In those days, I expensed a case of beer every Friday and we’d stop working at “beer thirty” (4:30pm in real time) to talk about our successes of the week. The other nights, we’d walk out of the office at 5:30 and head next door to a pub for happy hour, which would – not infrequently – stretch until 11pm.

We lived by the popular adage of “work hard, play hard” and staggered into the office in various stages of hangover each morning at 8am. It wasn’t uncommon to see Adam wearing the same clothes as he’d worn the previous day, since his commute to Annapolis sometimes got scrapped in favor of another round.

Looking back, I don’t know how we all had the time and money to fuel happy hours with that frequency. These days, I rarely hit a happy hour and instead am lucky if I can squeeze in yoga two nights a week. I look at the cost of a glass of wine and think, “I could drink a BOTTLE for the same price at home,” and can hardly function if I exceed my 10pm bedtime.

I’m not the only one whose priorities have changed. Seth is now happily coupled, Dan’s married, Tony’s engaged, and Adam became a father last year. We have countless stories from our days as young singles living large during the height of the dot-com boom, and it’s fun to get together and reminisce.

The thing that seems weird to me is that somehow, without trying, without chasing it, we’ve all become adults, and fairly responsible ones at that. I suppose worse things could happen.

So happy birthday, Seth. Let’s see what the next twelve years bring… other than your 50th birthday!

(Ouch. Sorry. That was just mean. Maybe I *haven’t* grown up as much as I thought.)

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