If you thought there was nothing trickier than answering the question, “so, what have you been up to lately?”, try hearing it from someone you haven’t seen for thirty years.
Let me set the scene.
Between the ages of about 11 and 13, a group of us neighbourhood kids used to meet up after school to play four square.
Remember those days?
You’d head home when the street lights came on and nobody worried about where you were.
We used to play religiously.
Anyway, as time passed and we grew up and went to different schools and moved away from the area we all lost touch.
I’d bump into an old friend every now and then. It was always nice.
We’d share memories of how we used to rule the streets of our little block and how much fun we had playing ball and building cubbies in the bushes.
It was all very Stand By Me.
This week I got a message on Facebook from a guy who used to be in our four square ‘gang’.
Talk about a blast from the past.
I had the biggest schoolgirl crush on this guy and here we were, three decades later, chatting over the internet.
Everything was going well until he asked the dreaded question.
“So, what have you been up to?” he typed.
The last time I saw this man he was a boy and I was 13.
What had I been up to? A fair bit, actually. Where do I start?
Do I began where we left off and take him through my high school years in Perth?
Should I skip the part where I enrolled in art school and never showed up to class, preferring the waves at Cottesloe beach and the beer at a Claremont pub to drawing a life model?
Do I detail every job? Every relationship? Every break-up? Was this a trick question?
In the end I hedged my bets and replied in the only way I would want the question answered had I had cause to ask it of somebody I hadn’t seen in forever.
“Oh, you know,” I wrote. “Stuff.”
I haven’t heard from him again.
Maybe the devil really is in the detail.
Maybe I’ll make up something more interesting next time somebody asks.
Maybe I’ll say I’m a four square world champion.