Some time ago, our buddy Irb talked about the dangers of connecting with old friends and classmates via Facebook, with the point being, Lets Face It, If You Were In Total Agreement With These People, You Wouldn't Have To RE-Connect, You Would Have Never Really Lost Touch.
His point of discovery came in a discussion over the issue of gay marriage with some former classmates of his (found on Facebook!) who completely disagreed with his feelings on the matter. Pretty soon, everybody was quoting scripture, and it all sort of deteriorated from there.
(By the way, Irb, congratulations on being the #1 ranking website on Google for the phrase "ann coulter's gaping anus of a mouth". You deserve it!)
I thought of Irb last night when I found myself dinging around on Facebook for much, much too long. OhMyGod, the people I found!!! Old roommates from college, former co-workers, some guy I used to have a crush on--the list goes on and on. And, because I thought of Irb, I stopped myself from sending any of them messages or asking any of them to be my "friends".
I'm sure they are all lovely people.
I'm sure of it.
They all look healthy and happy and have lives and jobs and children and all the trappings of 40-something 'success'. Good for them.
I don't care.
I mean, I CARE, but, I don't sit up nights wondering about the girl with whom I used to share an apartment, for whom my most striking memory is the time that she insisted on getting really, really drunk, then insisted, against the sage advice of several people in the room, that she MUST try marijuana because she never had before...and she spent the rest of the night and the entire next day resting peacefully on the floor of our bathroom, in between pukes.
Gosh, that memory is so precious...why ruin it with something new and awkward?
She was such a nice, Christian girl. By the time we parted ways, she smoked cigarettes, drank fairly heavily, had tried marijuana and had lost her virginity. Gee...when you look at it that way, it would appear that I was a bad influence. But don't blame me...I am many things, but I'm no pusher. I was just there to take notes on the complete collapse of her delicate moral structure.
And then there was the sweet co-worker who, one night in the early 80's when I was working on the air, walked into the studio holding two Hostess cupcakes, each with a lit candle blazing on top of it, because it was my birthday. Only I think I was in the middle of talking about something else at the time, live mic in the room, etc., etc., so, I wasn't able to acknowledge her right away. In fact, I didn't shut the mic off until the candles had burned down a fair amount and the flames were in danger of starting the frosting on fire and had actually started to burn her hand, if memory serves. (For those of you who think that it would be impossible for frosting to catch on fire, have you ever checked the ingredients of Hostess cupcake frosting? I'm just sayin'.)
We referred to it, ever after, as the Flaming Ding-Dong Incident.
She was also involved in a certain late-night raid on a competing radio station, so, she and I have been through a few hilarious things together.
I saw her "I'm In My 40's Now" picture on Facebook--a studio shot one might have taken at, say, a church, or, to put on your business card if you sell real estate or insurance or something. I thought, well, that is definitely the same person, and I know she has always had that same smile, but why is it that 20 years later, I'm a little creeped out by it? As in, I'm afraid that if I contact her, she might try to sell me some real estate or, some insurance, or, some church?
A former classmate of mine from high school contacted me recently, and, to give you some perspective, let me explain the situation regarding my primary and secondary education. There were 16 of us. 16 people, sharing a classroom, in the same building, every year, from 1972 to 1984. A couple of us moved, but most of us did not--a core group of us were never separated from each other, for the entire time we were in school. So its not like, "Oh, I remember so-and-so--I think we had a class together", its like, these are the people I grew up with--those 15 other people are like family. 25 years later, I know what cities they all live in, I know if they are married, I know whether or not they have children. I know when they, or anyone in their families have any major events happening in their lives--births, deaths, illnesses--Its all just a part of the daily roster when you grow up in a very, very small town. We may never talk, but we never really lose touch--the experience of our childhoods has bonded us forever.
But now that we are older, and no longer spend time together, the fact that we have chosen different paths in life is glaringly evident. Most of this group still live in small towns, and they have their families and kids in school or sports, just like I do, but, small towns have a certain, relaxed, speed. I've never operated very well at that speed. In a small town, Christianity, and "morally acceptable" behaviors based on the local interpretation of the doctrine, is assumed. I'm a bit more of a free spirit.
And, they are all lovely people--so lovely, in fact, that when they ask me about my life and I tell them a story from my life, much like the ones you would read here, they get a bit of a glazed over look in their eyes. I think my life is pretty mellow, but certainly, it is sheer insanity compared to the calm predictability of theirs. Let's face it--It is likely that none of them ever logged on to the family computer to discover that their stepson was posing for, and sending via internet, a bunch of pornographic pictures of himself, for example. And I'm sure none of them go frog hunting in a dress and high heels, at night. Also, if any of this stuff had happened to them, they would NEVER talk about it. This is what makes us so different, despite our shared youth. I'm all about exposing the depths of bad human behavior, and laughing about it, whenever possible. They don't want to hear about it.
So when I see them there, on Facebook, they may be online talking about a cool thing they quilted or knitted or baked, or how their kid's hockey team went to State....
...and I'm online talking about my roommate losing her virginity in her failed effort to keep up with me.
Not that the stuff they talk about isn't nice, but....*yawn*
One of the most valuable things you can have, and hopefully you have a lot of them, is a kindred spirit--someone with whom you can share and compare notes. Your friends. Someone who, when you ask, "Am I crazy?" they calmly assure you that you are not. The flow of these people in and out of our lives goes with the flow of our experiences. Some of these relationships don't stay relationships. Instead, they become a bit of your history, a thing of value, yes, but a place to which you can never return. You change. Hopefully, you change. You might not have been able to imagine, 20 years ago, the things that make perfect sense to you today. The reasons you ask, "Am I crazy?" change, based on your experiences, and the only people who can really answer that question for you are the people who are sharing your experiences, right now.
Its not that your former friends cannot be your friends now, its that the learning curve is a tough one. The physics of time have left them, and you, in the dust in each other's lives. Catching up--REALLY catching up, would take a lot of work, and both of you have to really, really want it. Usually, one of you doesn't. Usually, one of you looks at the other and thinks, "They seem a little crazy". I know of several people that I knew in a former life who simply cannot stomach the information I post on this blog, because, well...."crazy". And that is OK--no worries. I wish them well, but, they have been replaced--replaced with wonderful people who (usually) don't think that.