Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Looking up old friends.

Recently, I have thought about looking up old friends. Like from highschool. Or early girlfriends. People like that.

What has been very hard to keep in mind is that I have made no secret of my identity on the "interwebs". My existence on the 'Net has been rather obvious, from early posts on NANOG and Rec.Motorcycles to the present.

This creates a conflict of interest, of sorts.

I would very much like to get in touch with several, if not many, of the people whom I have known in the past. However, by knowing that I have made no secret of my identity online, I know that if they had any interest in looking me up they could do so with little effort.

So the conflict is: Do I contact them, knowing that they have demonstrated no interest in contacting me?

Or, do I relax, knowing that anyone who is actually interested in contacting me can do so?

It's easy to answer this for yourself, just do a Google search on your own name. If you see that you're easily contacted in the first few results, then anyone who has NOT contacted you maybe just does not want to.

But maybe, just maybe, the impossible girl in the fuzzy sweater in highschool simply doesn't remember. Maybe, just maybe, people are too busy to recall the name of the quiet, shy, non-basketball playing guy who lived a few row of desks from them for five and a half seemingly endless years.

Yes, this is a self-immolating, self-referential posting of little or no relevance to the universe. Every shy guy remembers what it was like to be ignored, unknown, irrelevant. I didn't even have a picture in"my" high school yearbook, much less was remembered by more than two people in my "class" a year after graduation.

To which I must say, Chris, I hope you are doing very well. It was great seeing you ten years later, although that was twenty years ago now. The email address I have for you is long expired, please write to me.

It's a funny thing about highschool. It is the worst years, the hardest years, of an entire lifetime, and it remains memorable. For some (like me) it is a memory of awful boredom punctuated by terrible anguish. For others, so I've heard, it's the best time of their lives.

But what I remember most clearly is the utter stupidity of it all. Mind numbing "subjects" combined with endless boredom. The most unutterably beautiful young women sitting only a few feet away but having no way of talking to them. Being required to give the highschool bureaucrats a "career" choice in 8th grade, for Cromm's sake, while not even knowing what I was going to be doing next week!, much less several years ahead.

The movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off was one of those films clearly written by someone who remembered: "It's a little childish and stupid, but then, so is high school."

In King's Blood Four, and the following books in Sherri Tepper's series, she notes that the highschool age kids were in "breeding" time. Which makes quite a bit of sense, since that was all I could think of in my highschool years: Breeding.

No insult to the six girls whose names and faces I remember very clearly to this day from my highschool class with whom I could think of nothing but, well, "breeding". Geometry class was great only because I used the ruler to reflect into my eyes the image of the one girl in the class whom I could not live without, but could not say a word to at the same time. I clearly remember that I said "Hi" to her at graduation, and not one single word before or after that. I was incapable for many years of even saying her name, as hard as that is to imagine.

You see, what I could never communicate was that the chance that she might say "Ick, go away" was so terrible, so awful to contemplate, that it was better in my ignorant hormone-addled mind to never say anything at all.

Years later, like 25 years later, a guy I knew from that same class said, "It seemed like you were in love with her." Yes, I was. And I am still, at least with the idea of her.

So here's my non-technical advice to anyone who can't talk to the girl/guy of their dreams because the thought of rejection is more painful than the thought of never talking to them: Talk To Them.

No matter how awful rejection might seem, the anguish of not knowing will haunt you forever.

And no, she will not realize that you dreamed of her in geometry and algebra even if it was always a contest between you and she as to who would submit the test answer first. Really. Trust me on that.

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