A surprising Messenger text I read a week ago had been waiting on a response for nearly a week. The name of the person reaching out to me was familiar. In what seems more fitting to a Reader’s Digest story, or old war veterans meeting at a VFW parade, after nearly FIFTY years, two elementary-school buddies have reconnected.
My Belmont Oaks Academy chum, Prasan, whose parents were god-parents at my sister’s christening fifty years ago, and I might never have reconnected but for the Internet. From my toddler years until I married my wife, Sheri, in San Diego, I rarely spent more than five years in any one place. Childhood-era drama lead my divorced mother, sister and I to move near family in Cape Cod. Less than five years later, I completed Junior and Senior years of high school in Tucson, Arizona. What followed for me, was a brief stint in the Navy, and then I returned to Arizona to complete a college degree. Beginning in 1987, I went back into the Navy, and spent another 23 years in uniform, retiring as a Senior Chief.
Before the Internet, staying in touch with childhood friends was a matter of chance as everyone moved so often. Yet things are never hopeless. Certainly not as unexpected as my encountering a Navy shipmate in Virginia fifteen years after we had last served together. Or a Friday afternoon conversation with a coworker in California revealing that you both had attended the same school a couple years apart – and had the same teacher – in Massachusetts.
Enter the Digital Age, where a computer is in everyone’s home, carried in a pocket ( your smartphones) or in the workplace. While the generations raised since the invention of the Internet and smartphones will likely marvel at how the world possibly functioned prior to 1998, I am somewhat of a dinosaur. With new and better consumer apps appearing every day, I still use the same few I have known for twenty years. (Which is amusing since I had a career in the technology sector for forty years.) The Internet, however, is what has allowed me to dive deeply into my family history, uncovering ancestors (and connecting with their descendants today) going back five hundred years. And I have “friended” relatives in Canada, who are very likely second or third paternal cousins.
But I digress. What has enabled my childhood friend Prasan and I to reconnect is social media. After decades apparently crisscrossing paths geographically, if not always chronologically, he found me via social media. “I looked familiar” in my profile images to some fifty year old photographs his family still held. He sent me the picture in this blog post of the kids mowing grass. I recalled our fifty-three year old Belmont Oaks Academy class picture, which had been among my late mother’s memories. Also there were a couple folded bulletins where each of us were among the performers in the school musicals. What will our children or grandchildren make of these photographs and papers, if they do look at them? Perhaps we will still be able to tell our stories. With the digital times a changin’ perhaps our consciousness will be transferred into the Cloud by then.