Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Facebook, reunions and Paul Anka

Good morning, yesterday
You wake up and time has slipped away
And suddenly it's hard to find
The memories you left behind
Remember, do you remember?

The laughter and the tears
The shadows of misty yesteryears
The good times and the bad you've seen
And all the others in between
Remember, do you remember
The times of your life...

Paul Anka, The Times of Your Life

I'm not really sure where "the times of my life" have gone, lately. How did it get to be the tail-end of June, already?

Life has been busy, of that there has been no doubt. And yet, I've been both full of ideas to write down, and singularly uninspired to write them down. I have found myself asking questions like, "Am I depressed? Am I done with this writing thing? What is the deal here?...."

Part of it, of course, is just living life. When I first started blogging, I felt terribly isolated and in the midst of trying to figure-it-all-out. And I am (thankfully) just not there any more.

Another part of my blogging, at one point, was a desperate need to both understand and to be understood. I wanted people to "get where I was coming from," to use the vernacular. And (for better or worse, I guess) I'm less concerned with that. As the classic song from La Cage Aux Folles says, "I am what I am, and what I am needs no excuses..."

But the third reason for this - and for me, any more, the most important one - is to do some public journaling: sharing thoughts, sharing experiences, and just catching-up and reflecting on life. So, in that spirit, here's a bit of where we are (though "where we are now" will probably take a number of posts to get through).

We have been here in The Little Big 12 (11? 13?) College Town In The Corn for 14 months now. I have legitimate Illinois plates, drivers license and insurance, all paid up and all at the same address (a true sign of respectability, a friend once said). And we are settling into a bit of a routine, finally.

It took me a while to realize it, but I have moved twice in one year, and five times in six years. I even had to write it down to figure it out:

Kansas to Chicago/LSTC - Aug 2003
LSTC to S. Chicago/Pullman - July 2005
S. Chicago to Waterville, OH - Oct 2006
Waterville to Whitehouse, OH - Oct 2008
Whitehouse OH to Urbana, IL - April 2009

So the sense of "having things in their place" is a relatively new thing. And a good thing.

The Paul Anka song, however, refers to an upcoming rite-of-passage for me - my 35-year high-school class reunion. I am struck with an ambivalence about it I wouldn't previously have imagined, and to be honest, Facebook is a big part of that ambivalence.

Facebook, for me, is a way to "just check in" with friends near and far. If a group of folks from the local AA community are getting together, I hear about it; same with friends in Kansas with ailing family members, or a buddy in Toledo that's received good news. It's how I first heard about the EF3 tornado that smashed through Millbury and Lake Township, home to one of the DeMolay chapters I was involved with several years ago.

I don't play all the games, quizzes, petitions, blah blah blah. There are a select few sites I keep up with, like the ThirdSpace group that Peter Fergus-Moore led me to. But otherwise, it's just "keeping up with folks."

Just after I signed on to Facebook (or FB), I started getting pinged by folks from my high school. About 99.44% of those were the few folks (like, half-a-dozen) from choir and the theater group with whom I'd managed to stay in touch. But then the talk came about the potential date for a 35-year reunion (our class has been AWFUL about doing reunions from the 5-year on up). And activity started to pick up.

And it was the weirdest thing - dozens and dozens of people who could have cared less about me for three and a half decades now wanted to be "FB friends." But when you are a FB "friend," you get to see every post they put up: when their kid wins an award, what they're having for dinner, what the neato-coolo dance joint they went to, and whether the rain will hold off long enough to mow the yard.

I don't mind this from the people who've stayed in touch; but I really didn't care to have that level of detail from 200 or so people who I'm (at best) glad to spend a couple hours with in July. So I've been a bit of a troll, ignoring most FB friend requests. I'll see 'em at the reunion, have some laughs, and let it go.

It's strange - I'm sure I'm not the first person who's wondered about how the reunion will go. Who will show up, who won't; who's still married, and who have been serial monogamists. I wonder if I'm the only one among my class who came out as gay; statistically, it's not likely that I am, but it will be interesting if anyone else actually RSVPs to the reunion with a partner (as opposed to spouse).

And it will be interesting to play the "whatever happened to ol' what's-his-name...." game. There are days when I wonder - although, to be rigorously honest, I'd have preferred a reunion with the class of '75 (my class) and the class of '76, as well, since a number of my friends were not in the same class as I was.

It will be a time of passage - and I probably won't go to another one (in the unlikely chance that another one is held at 40 or 50 years). That's history - ancient history. And to be frank, I'm more focused in now and going-forward than going-back, these days.

To my blogging friends, if you're still listening, thanks for your patience. More to come...

1 comment:

Hope said...

Still here. Still reading. Glad to read your update this morning Steve. My high school class has never had a reunion. It would be 30 years this summer. I've stayed in touch with less than a handful of classmates over the years.