My heart sank when I saw his name above the message.
It was a circuitous route. Adam F from my high school had asked to be a Facebook friend, and stupidly I clicked Confirm. Then came the raft of Friend suggestions and then some more Friend requests and then the stumping question: Your face is familiar mate, but where do I know you from?
I read the message on the screen again and hands hovering above the keyboard, wondered if I should type an answer or cut to the chase and click Unfriend.
Did we go to high school together? I was there from 1979 to mid 1983.
Yes, we did, I typed.
I’ve never attended a school reunion and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve visited old workplaces – and I’ve had many old workplaces – so if I’m still friends with former workmates and I’m seeing them for lunch, we meet elsewhere.
My sister loves to reminisce about the past. At family functions I sit with a glum pout and stare at the ceiling. “Remember when …” she says, and out spin the memories of the games we’d played and the neighbourhood kids we’d argued with and the fads we’d devoted summer holidays to … sorry, you’ve lost me way back at the beginning of the paragraph. I look at my watch and picture myself sneaking off to resume the life I’m actually living now.
I see my oldest friend – or rather, friend of longest-standing – once every two or three years. I would see her more often but she too loves to reminisce about the past. (“That was a pretty fucked up thing to do,” she’ll laugh. Yawn, I think. “Remember when … ?” Do I have to?) And it’s not like nothing happens in our lives now. We have careers and kids and partners and bills to pay. But – and my eyes glaze over as I write this – I refuse to be defined by the time when, as an eighteen-year old university student, I froze my arse off in the middle of winter because I decided wearing underwear would ruin the line of the tight jeans I’d poured myself into.
Yeah, it was dumb and fucking cold but hey, I was eighteen at the time and that was more than 60% of my life ago.
And to talk about it again? And again?
After picking my heart up off the keyboard, my first thought was, Was I that unmemorable? And my second thought was, If you can’t remember me, why did you ask to be a Friend?
Perhaps my smiling profile photo (I actually look stoned, eyes half-lidded, but I was a bit bored at the time it was taken and didn’t have time to put on my I-really-am-engaged face) reminded him somewhere in the back of his mind of how nice I was!
I flicked through his Facebook photos – he hadn’t changed much, still the same jutting ears and wide grin over a sharp first-Darren-from-Bewitched jaw, and his son and daughter, both teenagers, looked like his. He’d attended the School of Hard Knocks at The University of Life, so his profile said too. I didn’t know how to react to that one: was it silly, but maybe it was true?
I don’t really do nostalgia, I wrote.
I’m not embarrassed about the past and nor am I afraid of it. And I do believe we can and should learn from it, the good and the bad and the crushingly mediocre. But the reason it’s called The Past is because it’s in The Past. Done and dusted. Over and out.
(Actually, I’m not so great with The Present either. I’m too busy staring down The Future.)
Bloody Adam, came his reply. My missus added him when I said I knew him big mistake lol ok good to chat anyway
sure thanks I typed, fingers fraudulent on the keyboard. I think Adam only wanted to contact my sister so he could chat her up anyway.
I’m sure we have nothing in common. After our mini type-a-thon I thought of defriending him, but didn’t.
I’m waiting for him to defriend me first.
I don’t want him thinking I’m too up myself.
published 17 November 2012