Friday, August 12, 2011

A Friend Request

The Pageant of Childhood - Thomas Cooper Gotch
My family and I have just returned from a family vacation up the coast.  I took them to my hometown.  I think at some point I was reminded to search again on facebook for an old childhood friend whom I haven't spoken to in 20 years.  His profile appeared in the search results.  I sent him a friend request.  I was 12 when the family moved up north to Seattle.  I soon lost touch with everyone I had known.  Leaving was the most difficult thing I'd ever done at the time.  Looking back was just too painful.

But returning with my family - I hadn't been to the place in 10 years - jarred loose a desire to regain contact that had never left.  So many years have passed.  I'm so much different today than I was back then.  Or am I really?  How much does one change.  I've been through a lot in my life.  I've made a lot of mistakes, learned a lot of lessons.  Loved, lost, loved again.  For Christs' sake I almost died there for a minute.

My friend accepted my friend request.  I scanned his profile more deeply, but there wasn't much to go on.  His face is older, of course, but it's the face I recognize.  He has a beautiful wife and lovely daughter.  He's handsome and fit.  He's apparently interested in riding his mountain bike.  But there isn't much else to gather. 

I began to write him a note, hoping to get his number and speak with him over the phone.  Trepidation but intrigue.  What is it like to talk to someone with whom you were once so close, but only as children, so long ago?  As I filled in the vagaries of my adult life, I began to go into greater detail, offering up insights into my own self-perception, trying to imagine what I might look like from a great distance.  And yet, in some ways a distance who knows how close?  The following is what I wrote:

Hey - looks like things have turned out well for you. Your wife is pretty and your daughter is adorable. Man, so many years. Almost another lifetime. But I still recognize that friendly face. Well, give me a call. My number is (xxx)-xxx-xxx. I'd like to hear what's gone on in your world for the last 20 years. We just got back from a trip up to Santa Cruz.

Maybe that's why I searched your name again - I hadn't found you before. Years ago I spoke with our old friend on the phone - I was in Portland, OR - and we were supposed to meet up but I... I may have been too depressed. He called me early in the morning and I never picked up the phone. I felt bad about it.

I'm sure you and the rest of our friends have gone somewhat separate ways, to varying degrees. But for me I think you're all sort of time-capsulized in a hazy, nostalgic vision of the "Santa Cruz" part of my life. It seems strange to reckon that with who you might be now. I'm sure you think of me similarly!

Anyway, yeah, give me a call. I have two gorgeous girls and an amazing wife. I have struggled these 20 years with growing pain/depression from that neck injury I got at Pleasure Point. I was really into skating but had to stop and am pretty limited to simple, low-impact movement. The pain is chronic and dull. Its been a beast that drove me to depression and suicide in 2005 - a few months after my first daughter was born. I was caring for her while my wife taught. She was colicky and there might have been some post-partum stuff going on. But I've recovered well and have made a reasonable piece with it.

We live out here in the Coachella Valley. We've just finished doing a huge addition on our house - God, it took forever! But we're very fortunate. I teach at a continuation high school. The students are really screwed up. But I really want to help them. I've basically been doing social services work since I graduated high school. People with AIDS, brain injuries, schizophrenia - now childhoods of poverty and substance abuse. I was in college for ten years and finally got my degrees in social sciences and education.

I learned to play guitar and sing. I wrote indie acoustic songs and made little albums. I made a ridiculous rap album under the "alias" Brim Venereal. I'm interested in politics, philosophy, science, education and social justice. I write about it on my blog: (I think I'll post this there. I hope you don't mind. Like many of my creative endeavors, it has been epic, although mainly in my own mind; relatively few people read it.)

I'm a cranky, rational person with a wry sense of humor and an inner silliness trying to escape. I wonder if that is how you remember me? My biggest regret thus far in life is maybe my lack of forming more lasting friendships (ironic, writing to you!). But I've moved around a lot. That explains some of it. We were in Pennsylvania - Amish country - for two years before moving here, six years ago. A courageous but bone-headed move, it turned out to be. We were more isolated than ever there.

And yet meeting people in the desert has been slow-going. I suppose it doesn't help that we've had kids. I'm sure you can understand how much that changes things. We love doing things together. Speaking of which, my daughter (4) is asking to play Zelda with me so I'd better go!

Glad to see your face. Take care,
Super Vidoqo

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