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Friday, October 8, 2010

Long-lost Friends Don't Die...They Resurface on Facebook

It's been a long, long time since my elementary and high school days. The crazy thing is that I still remember most of the names of the kids I attended school with way back in the BC Age (before computer). Names...and...faces of those classmates from so long ago readily surface to my memory if ever a mention of them pops up. I think most of us have this same weird selective kind of memory. If somebody ever asked me: "Hey, remember Petie O'Brien from 7th grade?" Instantly, an image of a cute Irish boy with red curly hair and an impish grin would surface on my brain. Petie was friendly and sweet and popular with the girls and used to hang out at the A&W Rootbeer stand. And occasionally, he'd smile at me.


I'm thinking about all this now because over the past year, I've happily reconnected with numerous old classmates on Facebook. Even met up in person with a group of long-lost girlfriends at a mini-reunion this past summer. Up til then, I really had no inclination to recollect about high school days, much less...grade school. That period of my life has been off my radar screen for 40 years. But these days, social networking sites have an eerie way of jettisoning our long-dismissed past smack up to the full frontal present.


So it is, that old school mates seldom die. Instead they resurface on Facebook. I haven't thought about Petie O'Brien for decades and suddenly this week, a photo of Petie flashes across my Facebook wall. It's like being catapulted into another world. My long-lost world of YOUTH.  Is this a good thing or a malevolent techno nightmare? Personally, I think it's more a matter of curiosity than anything else. After all, isn't it kind of sweet to learn that the ugly duckling, shy, young girl back in ninth grade has now become an award-winning, successful business woman and glam fem fatal? Or ain't it a hoot to find out that some of those snooty, stuck-up high school brats who shoved us aside in the halls have finally got their comeuppance? Take the once svelte, hot lips, back-stabbing cheerleader who could snag any guy she wanted. Frankly, I'm doing the happy dance knowing that over the years she's morphed into an obese, thrice divorced, wrinkled old hag living in a trailer in south Florida, hawking plastic alligators and socks at the weekend flea market.


Recently, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a catchy email from Will, a tall, devilishly handsome, former classmate who demonstrated remarkable brilliance and humor in high school Spanish class. Turns out he reads my blog and was responding to one of my posts. Out of the blue his name appeared on my screen. And without hesitation, I remembered him. Like no time had passed at all. If only I could just as easily recall where I put my reading glasses.


Of course today, we all look different. We're older. Wrinkled. Rusty, dusty, even musty. Different hair color. Some have no hair. Many of us have been physically reshaped for better or for worse. We're accomplished. We're experienced. We're parents and grandparents and a few great-grands. We've been to war, some to jail. We've had exciting careers and intriguing lives and fascinating adventures. We've traveled, captained our own sailboats and flown our own planes. While I and many others have lived all over the country, a good number chose to remain close to home. We've weaved our lives into different patterns. Some more intricate than others. Yet our joys and sorrows have probably been similar. Collectively, we're wiser and I bet a whole lot kinder and nicer than we were back in high school. 


Which brings me to the subject of bullying, especially cyberbullying...by college kids, high schoolers and even grade school kids. I find it horrifying. I worry about my own grandchildren and I wonder what frightening tribulations and outlandish ordeals they will have to endure when they become school age. I'd be lost without my computer now. But I'm actually glad computers weren't around when I was in school. True, we lacked the immediate information gratification that the computer age engenders. But our generation did not have to deal with the complications, humiliations and ramifications of online threats, personal attacks, confrontations, hate and intolerance horrors faced by computer savvy young people today. Without a doubt, we  had our teenage angst and dramas back then. Yet overall, I think our class for the most part, was an extremely decent, good, honorable, smart, responsible and compassionate group who grew into productive adults. That's not to say we didn't have problems. I was even bullied by some mean girls. But I never thought of it as "bullying". No one gave it a label. Luckily I survived. I never told anyone. But I never forgot it. Nor have I forgotten the name of the person who instigated it. And thanks to Facebook, I know where she lives........

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13 comments:

gayle said...

I wish I could find kids I went to elementary school with. I think it would be nice knowing what they are doing now.
I too worry about what school will be like for my grandson!

ReformingGeek said...

I'm right there with you. It's been fun reuniting with old friends on FB.

I, too, remember the bullies I encountered. I have not seen them on FB. I hope I never do.

Sue said...

Great post. And I have fun seeing how differently people turn out than you'd think, too. A guy I dated in high school who drove a pick-up truck and talked like a hayseed is now a doctor, and his twin brother is a lawyer. Was I ever shocked! Didn't know they had it in them...

As for the bullying, it's bad. And I worry about my grandkids, too. The worst thing that ever happened to me in school was that the boy down the street habitually called me Einstein. Embarrassing, and I hated it, but it doesn't hold a candle to what goes on today, does it?

Kinda sad.

"/

Jude said...

Nice memory! I've been contacted on FB by many folks from high school (and honestly, I can't remember who half of them were--and I was the unpopular kid!) I enjoy reconnecting with some folks from the past, but am puzzled when asked to be FB friends with those who clearly didn't want to be my friend back then. Confusing...but then, maybe that means they finally grew up and are no longer "meanies!"

Kathy said...

As I awake and get ready to make breakfast for my grand daughter who spent the night I also fear for what life holds for her. She is soon to be 10 and happy and creative and hopefully will continue to be that way BUT she is sensitive as was her dad and the thought of her being hurt by a bully breaks my heart. How can we prepare the little ones for this???? Lots of prayer for sure.

Coffeypot said...

Great post! Just last year some high school pals who stayed close through the years got the idea of meeting at the Varsity (a famous hamburger drive-inn across I-75/85 from GA Tech) also a weekend hangout for us back in the day. THEY are old. But it's fun to see them. We all talk and share jokes on FB now, too.

KeLLy aNN said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fran said...

'Rusty, dusty, even musty' says it all! I don't know whether to try FB again - I've had a couple of goes and then found it took up so much time and I didn't really do anything substantial with it. I don't know. Same with Twitter. Still under consideration ...

An English Shepherd said...

Nice post, not sure about FB !

Wizz :-)

KeLLy aNN said...

We've had some fun looking at ex's, but I did mainly join to find school friends, 4 in particular. found them.
We had fun looking at our 4th grade Christmas party that I happened to have pics for.
I did spend way to much time when I first joined, but I find my self getting on just enough to check in with friends. It is good for keeping track of goings on in the city too~

Linda Myers said...

I love Facebook and fortunately, though I check in daily, I'm not addicted to it. I love knowing what my family members and friends from the olden days are doing.

Murr Brewster said...

Git 'er!

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

One of my high school classmates has set up a website that he uses to promote our reunions. Now that I think about it, I'm surprised he doesn't use FaceBook for it. But his real goal is to get people to come back to spend a couple of days together. I've found that I actually make "new" friends at reunions, spending time with people I didn't know so well, and having lots to talk about now.

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