Friday, August 20, 2004

I'm baaaack

...just before you can all string me up for being MIA again. I have been here and there, but I haven't kept up with everyone's posts and I'm guilty of throwing you all over for a guy. Oh, well, might as well admit it. You've been axed for a man in my life. Satisfied? I am. And he's not just any old Internet guy I picked up in some sleazy chat room but someone I've known in a past life. See? It's more cerebral than . . . oh, get your minds out of the gutter.

Actually, the man in question is an old friend from high school and someone I've known since the sixth grade at good old John Burroughs Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio where I attended only that year, and only half of that year. I was at another school the first half of the year in a combined 5th/6th grade class where I taught all the kids Spanish, having just come back from Panama a couple of years previous to that. Oh, yes, the man in question.

Well, he was a boy scout at the same time I was a girl scout and we attended meetings at the old church on the corner of Burgess Avenue and Sullivant Avenue kitty corner from the elementary school. We were both in the same class at JB and both of us were safety patrols (until he got kicked off for some reason) and I had the corner where he crossed to come to school and to go home every day. He ended up at Hilltonia because he was on the north side of Sullivant and I went to Westmoor because I was on the south side of Sullivant, which was the dividing line for such things. We didn't see each other again for three years, one of which I spent at North Olmsted Jr. High School because my dad was still in the Army and for his last tour of duty he was sent to Parma Heights Depot and we lived in North Olmsted, which is a suburb of Cleveland. We crossed paths again at West High School, although we had no classes together that I remember. He introduced me to John Denver when he brought his records over to my house and played them for me. We were always friendly, but moved in different circles . . . or that is to say I moved in most every circle, but wasn't a part of any of them. I was a floater. He spent most of his time with a group of guys interested in science and rocketry and I can't believe they didn't even think to include me, but you know how boys can be at that age.

Actually, I didn't think he liked me very much so you can imagine my complete and total surprise when he emailed me a few days ago when I was talking to my mother on the phone. Mom was very peeved at me because she had to hold the phone at arm's length in order to keep her ear drums intact from my squeals of surprise and delight. As soon as I saw who the email was from I got an immediate picture of a be-spectacled young man in his boy scout uniform with a very impressive sash full of badges from hip to shoulder and over onto the back of the sash. He was wearing shorts as I recall and sensible boy scout shoes, but he was smiling that shy smile I remember so well. Like I said, I liked him and thought him intelligent and honorable, if a little shy.

Over the course of the past few days we have discovered a great deal about each other, not the least surprising of which is that he had a crush on me in high school but thought me out of his reach. Knock me over with a feather. We have since found out we have been, over the course of our adult lives, in the same places at the same time and never crossed paths. We have lived in some of the same areas and been to the same functions and yet we remained oblivious of the other's existence in our sphere of influence and travel. To make things even more interesting, he is in Colorado Springs and I'm here in Tabernash and he didn't know I was so close when he emailed. He found me on of all places. When he emailed the old address there he received an autoresponder message that told him the new email addy and there he was in my queue. What a coincidence life can be sometimes -- if I believed in coincidence that is.

He is married and has just celebrated his 27th year of marriage and has a ten-year-old daughter.

We have been swapping life histories and doing the do-you-remember him/her/this or that for almost a week now and he is coming to visit on Sunday for a couple of hours because he'll be in Jefferson County outside Denver for a hamfest. No, it has nothing to do with pigs. I already asked that. He is still into ham radios and the hamfest refers to that. It's sort of a swap meet for radio parts and a chance to get together with on the air buddies in the area. Personally, I thought it was some kind of actor's get-together because of the ham reference, but when I found out what time they met (8 a.m.) I knew they wouldn't even be awake at that hour let alone up and running around Jefferson County Fairgrounds, so it had to be the pig thing. Okay, so I was wrong. I'm entitled. I'm not wrong very often.

So, a blast from the past (which is what he put in the subject line of his first email one week ago today) is coming to visit and reminisce for a couple of hours. We are so completely different now and yet we really aren't all that different. Physically, experientially, we have changed, but the essence of who we are remains the same and always has.

I cannot believe this week. I have lived in solitary seclusion for nearly a year and I have had more visitors this week than I have had the whole time I've lived here. First, Emma and the girls, and tonight I get to see my favorite [info]elementalmuse and her two wonderful kidlets, and the next day after the muse leaves one day too early for my taste, my old friend will be here to spend a couple of hours.

So, if any of you have teenagers who are weeping and wailing over not being noticed by any of the opposite sex in school, let them read this or tell them about it. Just because someone isn't confident enough or bold enough to ask you for a date or tell you they like you doesn't mean they really don't. I have been surprised on several occasions, especially at my 20th class reunion, by people I didn't think even knew I existed telling me how much they liked me but didn't think I'd be interested in them so they kept quiet. Some of the boys were even part of the most popular group in school. So you never know.

Of course, it's too late to do anything about it now, but it's nice to know anyway.

I didn't mention the gentleman's name I threw you all over for, did I? It's a simple honest name. John Evans. And we have a lot more in common than we ever knew.

As much as I love living in my secluded cabin in the Rockies, I didn't realize that I was a little homesick, too. I have several friends here and all around the country, but there is something special about having a friend from back home that makes me feel a little less lonely and a little more connected to my past. One thing I have learned is that no matter how much you want to turn your back on the past, on your home, your heartaches, your sorrows, fears, and horror stories, Dorothy is right. There is no place like home -- and no friend more special than one who knew you when.

We are the sum total of our experiences, good and bad, and without those we would not be who we are at this very minute. People who create themselves anew, give themselves new names and new identities, can never completely erase the past because it is woven into the very warp and woof of every fiber of your being. We need not be trapped by the past, but we are all products of our past.

We can't go back and change anything, but we can learn from it all. And we can use that knowledge to forge ahead into a brighter future. It's nice to stroll down memory lane as long as we don't get lost or tangled up in the vines of regret and feelings of if-I-had-only-known. The past is a benchmark, a reminder of where we have been, but it doesn't have to be a stumbling block in our paths.

I will share some poignant memories with John and I will also relive a few shared moments, but what we build from this point on is a future friendship that is flavored and spiced by our common past. That's always something worth having.

Time for me to shut up. I've given you enough to make up for my absence and if you don't agree, write something and I'll fire back a pithy response. If you do agree, write something anyway just so I can think up a pithy response to fire back. This is a volleyball game of connections and reconnections, so let's play.

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