Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Facebook and Old Friends

“If I didn’t like yo’ a** in the 10th grade then what makes you think I want to be your friend now?”

Wanda Sykes had the crowd in stitches this past July evening I went to see her in Dallas as a birthday present to myself. In talking about social networking sites her general theme was they were essentially a huge consumption if not total waste of time. I couldn’t have agreed more, until I found Andy.

The two of us plus Kenny and Todd were Junior High friends in the late 70s growing up in what was then West Germany. As happens in the military when the active duty parent is called to another assignment the entire family packs up life and luggage to the next station on a tour of the world. I learned to develop fast friendships along the way as well as coping skills for their inevitable end. A lifetime of farewells later the memories linger with the standard questions: where are they, what are they doing now, are they well or even alive?

Fast forward to 2009 and I harbored no real interest in Facebook beyond the possibilities it offered in helping to get the word out about this website. I start with the usual searches, co-workers, ex-co-workers, family and friends from high school and college, in short, the current home address book. The farther back in my life that I went I began to wonder about friends from my youth, buddies I haven’t seen in over 30 years. I wondered about Andy.

Bingo! Found him on the first try and, in that other most wrenching twist of fate, living maybe 50 miles from where I had just moved away from. But it is a different day technology-wise. Thanks to Facebook in less than two weeks the Fantastic Four were back in mutual contact, not quite but almost together again for the first time since 1978 and all alive and well. I’ve been laughing and crying ever since.

“When were you ever a crossing guard?” my mother asked when she saw the picture that I, myself had not seen since the year it was taken. I was quite proud of that brown satin shirt with gold, blue and red striping across the chest, having saved it especially for the occasion. Hey, this was the 70s!

The party that summer celebrated the end of the school year and the last hurrah for all of us. Each of us moved with our families, fanning out across the four corners of the country by the end of that year. We would likely never be in the same room at the same time again but, armed with our faith in the future and each other, we believed it wouldn’t matter. Today, three decades later, we begin again, tempered somewhat by age maybe but as excited about the improbability of it all as the day we celebrated a future that until now we have been unable to share. I’ve already started planning the reunion!

Gotta go!

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