So one of the effects Orkut has had on me is to think a lot about the past.
One of the favorite games (at least for those of us who’ve been on the net since god was still in his diapers) is to locate people we have no t seen or talked to in many many years. I’ve found a few, some who I’ve friended (and it’s funny that “friend” is suddenly a verb), others whom I’ve noticed but not yet friended.
And while I’m on that, let me digress for a second. Ever have those words you can’t ever seen to type correctly? ‘Teh‘ is my old standby, but suddenly it’s ‘frined‘. I even say it out loud as I type it (a habit I picked up from a dyslexic friend), ‘F-R-I-E-N-D’, and then as I say it, still type ‘frined‘. It’s like my hands have an auxiliary spelling engine which just does not agree with my brain.
There are a lot of old friends that I’ve not found yet. I keep checking, seeing if they turn up. If I had email addresses for some of them I’d send ‘em an invite, for some, but for others it’s just a question of “Whatever happened to…”
So with all this thought of old friends must come, I suppose, internal review.
Now, by nature I turn the microscope inwards almost constantly, so it’s not like there are vast expanses (I wanted to sage “huge tracts but don’t start me on that) of my psyche unexplored. I know where the bodies are buried and which corners hold the cobwebs and who’s living in that dungeon under the secret trap door (No wait, that’s my house, not my head, forget I said that).
But this is more about the measurements taken over time.
I recently looked up a name I’ve had in my head for a long time, and got a hit on it. Someone I was really good friends with a LONG time ago (universe far far away, as they say), when I worked at Sun and socializing by email was a new and thrilling concept. Person I’ve not talked to in a lot of years.
So you wonder, when this happens, how said person has changed. Did they get old? Did they get boring? Settled down? Wilder than ever? Did they dreams they talked about when they were young ever pan out?
And then this flips. How have I changed since then?
I’m trying to put a time frame on this. I’m finding that I started work at Sun – um – *cough*nineteen*cough* years ago. And left there six years later. So I’m talking somewhere in that time frame. Say fifteen years.
So. Wow. I’m the same, right? Fifteen years?
I was 27 then. I was childless. I was still working on the business side of high tech, hadn’t made my great leap over to engineering (Net? We don’t need no steeenking’ net!). Hadn’t yet taken up diving. Was writing, but didn’t yet know what I was doing. I had only a few tattoos, but was known far and wide as father of bodyart on the net (I actually had fans).
I was still mean. I still looked for people to fight with on a daily basis. I still felt I needed to prove I was SMARTER THAN YOU. Chip on my shoulder? No, not so much. More a slab.
I had a mullet.
I was hanging out with bands, roadie and bouncer and sound guy and driver and whatever I needed to do to be a part of the scene, not just a guy on the scene. I drank like a fish, often starting the party after midnight and getting home after dawn.
It’s been a long time.
But am I different? Or do I just do different things?
Having children changes a person. Or it should, I guess it doesn’t always. It changed me. I sold the fastest motorcycle I’ve ever owned just before my first kid was born. I had a moment of clarity after two possibly fatal near-crashes in one week, and traded that bike on something big and slow and heavily chromed. There are a million other changes but that one is a good metaphor. I had to give away part of being a child in exchange for having to be parent and protector and anchor for a family.
But there’s more. Time and life experience, financial responsibility, business successes and failures. Friendships. Relationships. Loves and heart-breaks (ok, a dozen of these a day, what can I say?). Emotional breakdowns and rebirths.
I’m tempted to say something about finding one’s self, but that implies I was missing. And while I can’t find my car-keys and – oh, there are my glasses, up on top of my head – I don’t think it’s really that. Not finding myself, but maybe getting to a point of comfort with who I am. What I can do, what I want, what I need.
So then the question, thinking back on then, and fast-forwarding to now, is always one of “will we connect”?
I spoke to an old friend a month or two ago. My childhood “best friend”, David. I could write a long piece on David, he’s a character. He introduced me to comics (First comic? ‘Kamadi, the last boy on earth’. Silly, but hell, it was Jack King Kirby, so that’s allright, baby!), he introduced me to Zappa. I introduced him to pot, and Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Tolkien. We drifted a apart in highschool, he moved away. I have not talked to him since my last trip back east, 18 years or so ago. Wonder of the internet, though, I tracked him down recently and we found, in a strange conversation where he was wired on too much coffee and maybe booze and I was feverish with flu and it was 2am here, that we still connect, as ever. Music and books and likes and opinions, politics and a shared experience growing up with 60′s radical parents. It was a beautiful moment for both of us, finding that, with all our divergent parts, we are still friends and still like each other and feel that soul connection you can’t really forge when you’re older that 20 or so without love being involved.
So – are we different? or are we just old?