I know this kind of thing can backfire, but social networking is amazing for bringing forth those missing people from our pasts. Here at Redroom, we've had some interesting debates about the uses, efficacy, and need for social networking, especially in what would be called a solitary field--writing, We've heard about the reasons for blogging and posting. We've heard that even in the blogshpere, people tend to be inclusive and form impenetrable clique shells. The debated rages on all over, but if you haven't noticed, I have: Redroom is growing. Posts are more plentiful and more bloggers are posting more frequently. Call it the contest, but that's really not it. Something is working.
And I know there are down sides to all of this internet connecting, just like talking to a person on the corner can have down sides. But I find it all amazing. I want to watch it for a while and tag along.
But back to the people from the past. You have googled yourself, right? Just admit it. I won't tell. I googled myself last night, and cam up with 76,800 hits. Bookstore listings, blog entries, teaching stuff, charitable donations, book reviews. There's lots to find about yourself there. So how many other people have you googled? I've run through past boyfriends, old friends, new friends, prospective dates. It's a nice way of making sure of at least a few tangibles: are these people still alive? Do they have salacious pasts--and is the salaciousness something I can deal with? Will he kill me with a spoon on the first date? All very important facts to know.
And what about Facebook? I used the strange and twisted experiences my friends and I had with an acquaintance as part of a novel, and for some reason the other day, I plugged this person's name in Facebook's search box. Yikes! Holy cow. There she was. I didn't add her as a friend, thinking she might not really relish my entry back into her life.
Yesterday, I was just minding my own business when I received a message on Facebook from my former spouse's first college roommate. At first, I didn't really recognize his name, as he'd changed it to something else entirely. I mean, no relationship at all. But the photo was familiar, and his words matched those of the man formerly named something else.
After going to our college for one semester, he'd found a place much more well suited to him (Stanford) and gone on. But he came back to visit my then boyfriend, and we'd all go out, the two guys and me and my roommate. I remember him getting slightly wild at a party, and there was some rumor of a sexual interlude with my roommate. He was funny and absolutely out of the box, saying pretty much what he wanted to at all times.
I think the last time I saw him was when he came to visit while my husband and I lived at my mother's house while I was finishing up my graduate degree. I'd had one child and was onto producing the second, and he brought a blow up Bozo. He blew it up and we put it in the living room. Every time I walked by it, I jumped, sure there was a seven foot intruder in the room.
But he was a wild, mad genius. We visited him once n 1982 at Stanford, and he was putting together a computer from a kit. Most of us didn't have access to a personal computer at all at that point. He was just one of those brilliant, slightly wacky people we chance to meet in this lifetime. The kind of person where thoughts about electricity and energy and numbers and functions actually form a recognizable pattern in his head that he can articulate to others.
And then he disappeared. We didn't hear from him at all after we had our second child and moved to Oakland. My husband and I would talk about him, imagining that he worked for the CIA or some secret underground operation in a foreign country. His brain was probably listed somewhere as a lethal weapon. Who knew?
Yesterday, we passed a couple rounds of emails between us, and then I passed him the baton of my former spouse's email address. I likely won't hear from him again, but he brought me back to a time that was exciting in my life. We were all just getting our degrees. My husband and I were starting our family, moving on into the life that would become what we have now. It didn't work out as we imagined it would, but if this old friend hadn't had access to me through the internet, I wouldn't have had the need or opportunity to float around in that part of my past, bring up that old feeling, that time when anything seemed possible.
Causes Jessica Inclan Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org