Blasts from the Past

The other day I got an email from a long lost friend of mine, asking permission to add me to his "friends" list on Friendster.com. I hadn't seen my Friendster account in a couple years (since well before I got married) so I logged on to update it and to get back in touch with my old buddy. We exchanged emails and by reconnecting with him, I was also able to track down a couple of other friends I hadn't seen or spoken to for over 15 years. Ah, the power of the internet. Suddenly thanks to websites like Friendster.com and Classmates.com, finding those long lost friends, lovers, classmates, teammates, exes, etc. is easier than ever. When I came home and told my wife about the email I'd received, she asked what I hoped to get out of it. It's a valid question I suppose. After all, I'm married, on the brink of parenthood, and happier than I've ever been in my life. What did I hope to get out of reconnecting with a handful of people I'd known when I was 14 years old?

I thought a lot about it and the most honest answer I could come up with was that I was curious about how it had all turned out. When I was 15 years old, my family moved from Oklahoma City to St. Louis. It's about 500 miles between the two cities, but for me it was the emotional equivalent of being relocated to Siberia for the remainder of my teenage years. But kids are resilient, and after a long and lonely summer, I met new friends and settled into a new life there. As it turned out, that move was a catalyst for all kinds of things in my life. It forced me to adapt to new experiences and to be open to new people and new ideas. Leaving the Midwest for college on the East Coast was a snap compared to leaving Oklahoma for the first time.

After college I moved to New York City and whole world of new experiences. I found myself meeting people and doing things I'd never dreamed I'd do in a million years. I had a great job and traveled the world. But as hard as I tried to be the thick skinned, world weary city dweller, deep inside I was always going to be the kid from Oklahoma. Eventually I moved on to California and to more life changes, including a marriage and soon, a baby. But all these years, that short span of my teenage years has held my imagination. The memories of the friends I left behind there have always been stuck firmly and deeply in my imagination. I wondered about the lives they'd all led, and where they were now. It was like seeing a really great movie, then leaving before I’d gotten to find out how it ends.

So suddenly I find myself in a position to find out how it turns out after all. The answer it seems, is sweeter than I’d imagined. My friends have moved on and lived their lives, just as I’ve lived mine. Most of us are married now, and some of us are parents (or about to be). I’m not sure what I expected to find. Maybe this is it, that life goes on. I’ve traded the mystery of the unknown for the satisfaction of certainty. But in the end, maybe that’s all I needed to know. That we’re all where we want to be, no matter how far we’ve gone.


At 9:42 PM, Anonymous blondie said...

It is so interesting that you are reconnecting with some old friends because I did the same thing before my reunion last year - which I actually didn't end up going to. However, I had a tremendous desire to know what some old friends were doing - people whom I hadn't heard of in 40 years. It was good to know that most were doing well and had families. I think that those high school years are such an important time in our lives, and we share with some of those friends such monumental moments such as a deep first love, acceptance or rejection on different levels - that those moments and people are always just below the surface. For you, with such a move, it would be even more profound. I found it interesting that, as soon as I found out the basic information about each person, that I no longer felt a need to communicate again. It kind of brought closure to those years of pain, uncertainty, and also great happiness. I wonder if you'll feel the same or if you will keep in touch. Of course, there is much more water under the bridge for me than for you since those days.


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