A woman friended me on Facebook the other day; a woman with whom I’d attended high school. Her face looked familiar. And I knew her name. But I couldn’t quite place her. I accepted her anyway: I’d remember her eventually.
She greeted me seconds after I logged onto Facebook the following morning. “Where’ve you been? LOL”
“Hi,” I typed tentatively.
She told me she’d been trying to find me for years.
I felt an odd combination of flattery and guilt. Someone remembered me! But who was she? “I’ve moved around a lot.”
She asked me how I was.
How to sum up thirty years of living in a chat session with someone I didn’t recall? “Fine. You?”
She told me she divorced Robert years ago.
Who was Robert?
She told me it was a bad situation.
Her words stared at me, waiting for a reaction. “I’m sorry.”
She asked me how many kids I had now. She told me she used to run into my mother all the time, but didn’t anymore. She was so busy; she didn’t even run into herself. LOL.
I shot an email off to my mother. Do you remember this person? I ran to the basement. Grabbed my stack of dusty yearbooks from the shelf. When I returned to my computer, a new message was flashing: she’d gotten remarried last year.
My mom wrote back. No idea.
She told me that she and Robert get along now.
She and Robert speak every day. When one of the kids does something wrong, they blame each other. LOL.
I opened my graduating yearbook. Began flipping through it.
She told me her son has his own business.
“Sounds like he’s doing well.”
She wasn’t in the yearbook.
She told me that for years, after her divorce, she really focused on her kids. Her work took her all over the country. She just bought a new house.
I scanned her list of friends and recognized no one. Who the heck was this woman?
“Mom,” Squints jolted me out the Internet.
“I thought we were going to read.”
“Just a minute.”
I returned to the keyboard. “I can’t find you anywhere in my yearbook. What year did you graduate?”
A long pause before she gave the date: two years before I graduated.
“Are you looking for my sister? She graduated that year.”
She didn’t know.
I looked through an older yearbook. She wasn’t in my sister’s graduating class, either.
I looked to see where she lived. Nowhere near where I’d grown up.
“Are you sure you have the right Kelly?”
She logged off.
I emerged from Internet hell, the pit of the death of the soul and looked around. Here was my life. The clock ticked softly from its post on the wall, marking the minutes—or was it hours?—I had spent chatting with this woman. The dishes needed to be done. Destructo needed his walk. Squints wanted to read a book. I closed my browser and shut down my computer.
There are meaningful connections to be made with strangers and there are connections that never should have been made in the first place. While I was engrossed in the world of wires and computers, the world slipped by around me. The robins gathered twigs to line their nests. A gentle rain began to fall. A few more daffodils opened. The world was happening all around me, and I, so connected to the world, didn’t bother to notice.
For twenty-four hours, the remnants of our conversation hung there tattered and torn, my unanswered question like an accusation. “Are you sure you have the right Kelly?” Finally, I deleted our words and de-friended the woman who was a stranger after all.
Live our Lives.
Labels: Community, Culture, Raising Children, Technology