Somewhere between catching up with Brandon and making a return trip to either the cupcake table or the Miller Lite keg, I glanced over at Zach. He was introducing his fiancée to yet another family member who had made it out to the engagement party. And there, in that simple, "Hi, Aunt Deborah, this is my fiancée," I caught a look in Zach's eyes I'd never seen before.
I'd seen Zach happy before. Winning the soccer game, finding a date to prom, passing biology - these were all moments of elation shared between me and Zach back in high school. But this happiness...well...it was different.
It was grown-up happiness.
It's always a bit odd when our childhood friends become adults. Of course, we're (hopefully) becoming adults at the same time. But, when you've always known Zach as the guy who you went on spring break with, or the guy who was in your algebra II group, or the guy who you were friends with since starting 9th grade, seeing that same guy as an employee of someone, or a husband of someone, or even a dad of someone puts you in a weird place.
For me, it's like when I watch Telemundo or go to a church - the words are familiar, and I think I know what they're saying, but at the same time, I feel out of place.
I felt like that at Zach's party. I wasn't a foreigner, but I wasn't completely an insider. I'd seen the faces before, and we all had a common bond. But it was a bond forged in a different time, before engagements and weddings and jobs and births.
It lives on - no doubt. But it's a bond that only allows me to say a sincere "Congratulations" and then head home to my grown-up life and my own grown-up happiness, part of which is being delighted when your friend is truly happy when he finds that someone who provides better companionship than you ever did - or ever could.
It's hard to realize it in high school, but engagement parties are better than soccer games.