Quarter-life crisis - Joel Hall

Last weekend, it all hit me. I felt officially old, or at least old enough to be considered "un-cool" to people who have not yet entered the professional world.

It all started on Saturday. One of my good friends from college got married that day. As I was getting ready for the wedding, I decided to cut my hair.

On most days, I come to terms with the fact that my hair is prematurely gray. However, as the hair fell into the sink, I realized that if I had plucked out all of the gray hairs ahead of time, I would have been significantly bald.

As I put on my tuxedo and headed to my car, I realized that my radio had been set to KISS 104.1 FM for weeks. Seldom had I ventured to V-103, HOT 107.9, or other stations that "cool" people listen to.

When I got to the wedding, I saw old friends, some of whom I hadn't seen since graduating from Emory University. It was interesting to see where my friends -- many of them music majors who had struggled through the program with me -- had ended up.

One of them had just returned from touring in Russia as a Christian songwriter. He was married and had a baby on the way. Another was getting ready to pursue ministry in Japan and head back to Osaka to marry his Japanese fiancé.

I had a few interesting post-graduate stamps on my passport as well, so travel envy wasn't the problem. Speaking with my friends -- most of them married or about to get married -- I realized that life was flying by quicker than I wanted it to.

My friend -- the bride -- was the first person out of my close circle of college friends to get married. While I was very happy for her, I also realized that marriage would change our relationship forever, simply due to the fact that we are different sexes.

As the "just married" vehicle pulled away, I felt a dull tinge of pain in my heart. I knew I still had a friend, but for the first time in my life, I felt like the relationships I valued were completely out of my control. I felt helpless against the rushing sands of time.

Later that day, my college fraternity chapter hosted Step for Sickle Cell, it's largest annual fund-raising event. For more than 20 years, the Mu Alpha chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha has recruited step teams from colleges all over the Southeast to compete for cash and raise money for sickle cell research.

Being "Greek" from pretty much day one of my college career, I had fond memories of helping put the show together. This was my first time seeing the show since graduation.

While we still packed the stands back then, the show was scaled-down quite a bit. I remember making dozens of trips to The Home Depot to buy the plywood boards which we drilled together to make a stage for the steppers.

The plywood stage was placed in the center of the school gymnasium and people just stepped. There wasn't any special effects, and you really had to work to be heard.

This time, however, the show had a raised stage, a full sound and lighting crew, and the step show itself was hosted by Greg Street from V-103 radio. There was even a fashionably-late guest performance from the guy who sings that "I gotta dollar" song.

While it wasn't Jay-Z performing, it was definitely a step up from what we used to put together. Again, I felt like college days had swiftly passed, and the best years of my life were behind me.

After the show, I came back to the Alpha House, where I had lived for seven-eights of my college career. I met many of the new brothers for the first time, and I was welcomed like I had never left.

I learned over the weekend that a lot of things change and some of those things are out of our control. However, some bonds can never be broken, even with the passage of time.

Joel Hall covers government and politics for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at jhall@news-daily.com.