Occasionally people show up from seemingly nowhere and change the course of your life. One of my people showed up in high school.
By most accounts, I had an idyllic adolescence. My grades were good. I pretty much avoided the bad stuff. Pimples were few and far between. I had a number of loyal pals. My folks were very supportive of both me and my interests.
However, I was still a bit of a work in progress. I put too much pressure on myself to be successful. Also while I was assertive around adults and in academic settings, I was always a tad shy in the social realm.
Then came one of the guys who would change my life.
I don’t even know how we started talking the first time, as we weren’t the type of folks who ran in the same social circles. I was rather bookish and stayed safely nestled in my snuggly cocoon of “theater geeks” and honors students. He chain smoked, wore wrinkly flannel shirts, did his homework under his desk during class and seemed to hang out with just about everybody. My guess is that we were probably forced to do some group project together.
Against all odds, we just kind of clicked.
I coached him on theater stuff. He taught me to drive.
I encouraged him to study. He made me spend entire Saturdays watching cartoons.
I gave him tips on how to talk to teachers. He threatened to smack around anybody who bothered me.
We were a heck of a team.
What started out as curiosity, turned into interest, then respect and finally evolved into, at the time, deep admiration and friendship. That’s how I see it now. However, at the time (Think: Mind of a High Schooler) my feelings were far less sophisticated and infinitely more dramatic. So, the cycle was probably more like: interest, spark, *devastating* crush. (I mean, I had a crush on him. Alas, my romantic feelings were never reciprocated. At the time, I’m embarrassed to say that I shed many a Dawson’s Creek-y tear over him.)
After high school, I went away to college. He stayed local. We tried a few attempts at hanging out over breaks and the summer months, but it just never seemed to work out. The spark had fizzled. I had grown up. We had grown apart.
I look back on our friendship with a weird mix of fondness, appreciation and embarrassment. There’s that saying that goes something like, “There are three kinds of friends -- friends for a reason, friends for a season and friends for a lifetime.” I truly think he came into my life for a reason – to influence the person I would eventually become.
Now, here I am almost a decade later. Through the years, I would occasionally wonder what he had been up to. Occasionally I would google his name to see if I might catch a press clipping or two. However, I never had any success.
Tonight I received yet another email from the Classmates Web site mentioning that some additional people from my high school graduating class had registered on the site. A news and gossip junkie, I occasionally peruse the listings to see what folks have been up to. Low and behold his name was just added to the list. There was no biography – just his name and link to his email address.
Rather surprised by the find, I impulsively drafted an email. I said hello and asked for any news he may want to share. Then, I wished him health and happiness, quickly signed my name and hit “Send.”
Now I’m kicking myself.
I feel somehow that I’m playing with fate. Maybe we were supposed to have bumped into each other a few Christmases from now, while pushing baby carriages at the mall? Perhaps I should have waited until the high school reunion and had some drunken conversation with him about the “good old days?” Maybe we weren’t ever destined to talk again?
What happens if he writes back and wants to meet for coffee or something? I don’t know if I want him back in my life again. I’m not sure there’s a place for him in it.
What if he reads my email and doesn’t write back? (The Classmates system gives you a “Return Receipt” notice to let you know when your email has been read.) What if he thinks I am a stalker who still has a cheesy high school crush on him? What if he blows me off?
I guess I just want to know about him without bothering him. Why couldn’t he have been on Google?!?
Man, I wish I didn’t hit “Send.”