Friday, January 23, 2009

Whatever Happened To....???

I found that after graduating from college, I lost contact with so many people. I guess there was no other reason than it was just life. I started my first "real" job. I was learning about paying for rent, insurance, and toilet paper. I had my close knit "peeps" around me. It was in 1991, so I wasn't really into the World Wide Web then or email. I still communicated via telephone, for which I would have to pay long distance charges. I remember staying up past 11:00 p.m. to make calls because the rates dropped dramatically then. If I had the time, I practiced the ancient art of letter writing by putting pen to paper and stamp to envelope.

I often wondered, and still do, what happened to various people. Those friends who drift in and out of your life. Some are fair weather friends who stick around for good times and some are friends for that moment in time. Some are true friends you just let slip through your fingers and some are just people you knew but didn't really know. There was this one girl, Susie, who I was close friends with in high school but lost touch with in college. For six years I wondered what happened to her. I tried writing to the last address I had for her parents, but they had moved. I tried calling information in some places I thought she might live, but that didn't work. Then, one day, in 1993, I was getting on an elevator in my office building. The door opened. As usual I made eye contact with the other passenger to say "Hi" (this is the normal thing to do in Texas, if you are wondering). This time, it was a familiar face. "Hey, I know those eyes. I know that smile!" This time it was, can you believe it, Susie! I screamed; she screamed. We both started crying. People rushed in the hallway to make sure there wasn't a fire or an attacker. We tried to explain through tears and laughter what miracle had just happened. I couldn't believe I had done all that work all those years to try to find her and she was working in the same office building as I.

Then came GOOGLE: searching for people on the Internet was so much faster and more instant. One night, my girlfriends and I GOOGLED our old, old boyfriends. I'm talking Junior High and High School boyfriends and maybe a sprinkling or two of college and post-collegiate guys. We were at a Spa, drinking wine and it was midnight as we gathered around my laptop huddled on the bed. We took turns typing in names and telling stories. Some people we found and some we didn't but it was so much more about sharing with each other in the present rather than trying to connect with our pasts. I was able to find a few of people via GOOGLE. The people were usually listed on a work related website with an email listed, so contacting them was relatively easy. For others, I was able to locate an address or telephone number and contact them that way. If you haven't, you should GOOGLE yourself and see what comes up. It will probably surprise you.

My new favorite people searching website is Facebook, because you not only can find people but you are also able to keep up with them. It is definitely not a place for people who want to remain anonymous and lead a secret life. I had a friend who tried this with a phony name, birth date and location, but I still found her because it listed her email which was in my Yahoo account. Nice try, but you will have to open a separate account with a very obscure name to hide in Facebook.

I've enjoyed my time on Facebook so far because it has helped me answer the question "Whatever happened to....?" for so many more people than my previous search tactics. I have people from Junior High, even elementary contact me...not to mention high school and college. I hadn't realized how many people I lost contact with until I created my Facebook Account. In fact 98% of my Facebook Friends are people I used to know and who aren't recently a part of my present life. Facebook has also helped me heal some old scars and find closure on some random, old issues. As an adult, I've been able to say things (or write things) that my younger self never could have. I found out that the kid who used to sometimes spit on me in Junior High is now a very kind adult who doesn't even remember that. (Or he is lying about it). And the people I thought were so hot and so great are just as normal and regular as I am. OR maybe I was hot and great and just didn't know it. That is a possibility, maybe? It is fun during a downtime to scroll through people's updates and see what they are up to or what their thoughts are on current issues. Sometimes it can get as addicting as watching a soap opera!

I have found some special people via Facebook. There are four people in particular whom I have been searching for for years, like I did with Susie. I figure I only get one, maybe two, miracle greetings on an elevator in a life time. One day on Facebook in the "People You May Know" section, I saw my first friend's picture show up. I haven't seen him since Junior High, so his adult self was a gentle shadow of his 13 year old self. I read his name several times and squinted my eyes to try to see his thumbnail profile picture before clicking on it and sending him a message. I was SO glad to find him and now know what ever happened to him. He has a wife, kid and one on the way and is very happy. The other three friends I found in one jackpot day. One of the girls found me on the "People You May Know" section and sent me a message. Once that happened and we befriended each other, another long lost friend found me on that Facebook page. These two findings that day made me feel lucky, so I typed in my old friend's name (whom I have been trying to find for 15 years) as I had done several times before to no avail. This time it came up and I sent her a message. It was just like that elevator door opening and Susie giving me that long lost hug.

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