Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Facebook: Bringing it back

Everyone knows Facebook invites ghosts from the past, so when they come, I guess you've got to deal with them, right?

Really, most of it has been easy and fun. How great it was to find out that one of my high school crushes grew from a boy with stringy hair and wire-rimmed glasses into an extraordinarily handsome man—a kind, thoughtful, and funny one at that? And how nice it has been in anticipation of my thirty-year high school reunion this summer to find a much warmer, friendlier group than I felt I had left behind so long ago. Most of the focus in our contact has been on who we are now: the jobs, travels, kids, and experiences that have made us into the adults we have become, with only passing thoughts as to who we were then and whether we liked or even talked to each other in that past microcosm.

But the other day I received a message on FB that took me back more than thirty years and has left me stuck there. Someone reached across all those years, through another person, over a social networking site to say hi—someone who totally broke my heart. Not a boy. I'm not sure there was a boy in high school who put much of a dent in my heart, and if I inflicted any dents, I walked away unaware and unconcerned. But the girlfriend who broke my heart can still make me cry.

In early high school I hung with a crowd of what I would think of now as bad kids. We cut class and smoked a lot of pot. In reality many of us were probably alienated and depressed self-medicators. But although I include myself in that group, I was happy to be part of a group. There was a lot of conflict in my house (typical teenage rebellion conflicts with strict parents), and these kids felt like family. Better than joining a cult, right? And this girl—she was funny, honest, and got me completely. We had some of the best times.

There were probably signs things changed, but I missed them. Then there was the football game that a couple of girls, including my friend, told me they were not going to, so I stayed home. The next day at school, I overheard that they had all gone. A few more instances like that, including a Peter Frampton concert that I desperately wanted to attend, and I knew the truth: I was out.

I was socially awkward kid with poor social instincts. I was completely confused about why someone I loved so much had rejected me. I'm not saying her actions were without reason; I just lacked the social sophistication to understand them. And I of course lacked the courage to confront her, opting to go off and cry by myself and pretend I didn't care. Around that time the group sort of imploded: kids were transferring to other schools, taking the GED and getting out, some probably dropping out. And I would have been fine with the group falling apart if only I could have kept her.

In the long run, it was probably the best thing for me. I cleaned up my act, patched things up with my parents, found new friends, excelled in school, and went on to good things. I'm not saying the rest of them did not, but where I was going at that time would not have been a reasonable path to where I have found personal and professional satisfaction.

But still. When I look at other people's pictures of themselves today with old friends from back then, I think "That should have been us—old friends thirty years later." But I like to think I learned and got better at being a friend. There's other people now that are my "us," and I do think this time they're for keeps.

So I got her email address from the third party and sent her a note. I told her a little about what I've been up to and said I hoped she was well and that life had been kind. I signed it "your old friend" because even though I'm not really, I would like to be. I haven't heard back, but I'm checking my email all the time.

So, no pictures or recipe. And a delete button almost hit. So there you go.

11 comments:

Trevor said...

For what it is worth, I really do wish I had taken more time to get to know you back then. I was too into my own feelings of alienation, etc. to venture much out and let anyone 'get me'. Ironically, I think you would have been just the tonic I needed at that point in my life. I hope your reaching out to this person goes well. FB and HS reunions has been a mixed bag for me. Getting to experience the wonderful adult you grew into has been the highlight for me!

jilly said...

Brave post, raw truthful emotion. I think we all have those friends though, and I think we all wonder what if?

Kate said...

Good luck & I hope some good comes out of it for both of you. Over the past year, I was able to mend fences with two old friends I thought I had lost - one whom I had not spoken with in 15 years. One reunion made me realize that we have nothing in common anymore (though I wish her well) and the other welcomed an important person back into my life. In both cases though - it reminded me not to count people "out" of my life, to never give up on love - of all kinds.

Jill Anderson said...

Wow. A very moving post. Your story reminds me of myself back in HS. The best part? We've gone on to have terrific careers, family, etc...I thank you for the heartfelt post and I hope that you do hear from your old friend. She would be lucky to know you!

Vanessa said...

I hope that she responds positively. It's always nice to hope that a childhood slight was made because the person didn't really understand how they were hurting you. It turns into a whole different kind of hurt when they do it again once they should know better! I'm glad you didn't delete this post :)

Ginny said...

Lessons learned in high school seem to be the ones you remember forever. Things always turn out better even if you don't think so at the time. Whether she responds or not, doesn't matter, you had to try.

Kalee said...

This post really resonated with me. I haven't even made it ten years out of high school yet, and still have had occurrences like this. I think so many of us were lost in high school, trying to figure ourselves out. But telling myself doesn't make it much easier when I think of things I wish I had done differently. Thank you for the raw honesty.

KatieGirlBlue said...

You're behaving like the person I wish I could be; you're mature, forgiving, accepting, and able to move on.

WELL DONE. You inspire me to stop sneering at my old high school rivals' Facebook pages.

Hobo Mama said...

I need to learn this one, too. Thank you. It's hard to move on and be the adult.

tommie said...

Love the honesty here.

I have yet to attend a reunion since the boom of FB, I have often wondered how it will change things.

Hope things turn out well

微笑每一天 said...

wonderful...................................................