Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Googling for old friends

The other day, a friend I've known for 15 or 16 years, Joe Pham, called me out of the blue for the first time in ages. We had a great time talking. He was at my wedding reception two years ago, but I hadn't heard from him since. I don't know how he got my number.

He got me thinking of high school friends and where they are. I read Pattern Recognition a few years ago, and I was surprised by the concept of Googling for people. I thought, "People actually do that?" It is not as easy as it sounds, but I got hooked, watching the footprints of people in our digital world. I tried it on myself again yesterday and the many other Daniel Lewis-es drown me out. I have no PageRank; I am not yet rich and famous.

But there are some old friends of mine who have reasonably unique names, such as Geraldine DeRuiter, Jesson Mata, and Laura Osterman. Jesson, I think, does not have a web page.

Now that I've found them, now what? I don't know; I guess I should email them and tell them I'm alive, oh, and I'm married and I have a son, how was your last 4-7 years? Somehow these conversations always sound funnier in your head than they do when they're actually in progress. I told Joe on the phone that I have a six-month old, and he was truly shocked. But that was nothing. I told him I became an A student! Truth is stranger than fiction.

I always wrote people letters I never sent them. It was my way of avoiding the fact that the deep relationships they were having with other people, I was not participating in. So instead, in secret, I took it to the next level. My pent-up feelings would stampede out eventually, though, and trample my illusions. If I ever made a mess of things with you, gentle reader, because of something like this, please forgive me. I was much happier in college when I learned to shut up. Then I could concentrate on the true love of my life: video games.

But that's all changed again too. Life has surprised me repeatedly, in ways that do not whisper on the internet.

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