Somewhere Along the Line I Guess I Got a Life
I’m not sure if I’m just out of things to say or if I’m exhausted from the idea of social networking and everybody having something to say. In either case, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything here. I did extend my domain license for another couple of years, so it’s not like I’m ready to quit altogether.
I’ve clamped down my Facebook security as tightly as I can. I don’t want to be that available. It’s why I don’t have a cell phone. I actually closed the account at one point last spring, but panicked at the thought of being electronically self-shunned. I think I’m ready to pull the plug for real.
What got me thinking about all this was the recent death of a young old friend—someone I’d known since her childhood. I’ve buried perhaps more than my fair share of friends over the years. It’s a function of running with a thrill-seeking, high-risk crowd (Guen died in a para-sailing accident). But this was the first time I’d helped bury a friend’s child. Sitting in the town meeting hall next to my good friend who was born in a tepee on my wife’s family’s lawn, I surveyed all the old friends–the guy I crossed Scotland with on mountain bikes, the guy who hired me for the most important bike shop job of my life, the woman who dubbed me “Dondo,” the guy who joined my wife and me in civil matrimony (now there’s an oxymoron), and, up in the front pew, my old ski and bike buddy Kendall—the father of the girl I rode with, coached on the xc ski team, and now mourned.
Simon, my pew mate, had known Guen since before kindergarten. When the final song was sung, “How Can I Keep from Singing,” we both broke down and wept like real men. Simon used to mow my lawn and stack firewood for samplings from my then-extensive swag collection. I also coached him in xc skiing and cycling. He went on to become a teacher, a most noble profession, and preceded me at The Putney School where he learned “How Can I Keep From Singing” at Thursday morning Sing, as did I after he had gone. We sang it the morning of 9/11 because we were too stunned to do anything else. There is power in many voices joined in song. It will really rock you when it’s people who know and love you.
So there I was, feeling more at home than I had in a long time, and wondering why I only see these people when someone’s getting married or buried. Raising three children of my own, 22 teenage boys on the other side of my apartment door, and another couple of hundred on campus leaves me with very little time for anything else—even catching up with old friends and reminiscing about adventures past. It was somewhere in this inventory that I caught myself up short and realized that my life was full of people who need me and make me feel like my life is well worth living. In other words, seeing my old friends so seldom is pretty much a Cadillac problem. I’ll never see Guen again, but I hadn’t actually laid eyes on her in something like 17 years. She’ll stay in my heart for as long as I draw breath. That’s plenty.
Which brings us back to Facebook. I’ve reconnected with old high school buddies, former colleagues, absolutely zero old flames (thank god), and a handful of stalkers I’d rather not cross paths with ever again. I hate to say this, but I don’t have time for any of them. I’m in the here and now and don’t need some stinkin’ electronic social network to make that happen with the people currently in my life. As for the past, I have my memories. I think I’m going to leave it at that.