Friday, July 20, 2007

Late Friday Afternoon Musings on a Slow July Day

Have you ever Googled an old friend? Somebody you lost touch with many years ago?

I have several friends like that, people I knew from college days who, like me, wanted to be writers or actors. I’ve always been curious about what happened to them and did they ever achieve their dreams.

It’s gotten easier to research and find the people from our past. I’m not always sure that’s a good thing. What about the girlfriend that doesn’t want to be found by a once over-ardent suitor? Or the guy who didn’t call the next day like he promised? It’s now easier than ever to bring immeasurable embarrassment and discomfort to those from our past who maybe should stay in the past.

Nevertheless, I was curious, on a slow summer day at work, so I began to Google names from my own past. For the most part, I have no plans to actually contact any of these people, though if I did, at least, I could say I was on good terms with all of them when I last saw them. And I was never romantically involved with any of them. They were good friends and people I worked with on creative projects. One was an editor of the same college newspaper that I worked on, also as an editor. Another was somebody with whom I wrote poetry, which we turned into one-man shows. That person, Chuck Stead, first got the idea. So much of his poetry was themed and one poem segued into another in a way that could be turned into a one-act, one man performance. He gathered a few like-minded friends whose work seemed to do the same thing. I was one of them, and so we performed together for a time. He even used several of my pieces in something he created, with others acting out my words.

Being an author and sitting anonymously in the audience was actually scarier than being on stage – and I always had wrenching stage fright, which was why I gave up acting in the end.

But at least as an actor people who might not have loved my work were usually tactful and polite in my presence. When they sat behind me in a darkened theater and heard some shocking line that came from my pen, I saw their unvarnished reactions and they were unedited by tact or politeness because they had no idea that I was the perpetrator of their shock. Pretty scary!

Chuck was the guy who made me take those risks.

And I know he’s continued to work in the genre he created and has stayed true to his roots as a Ramapo Mountain storyteller. I didn’t know, until I read about him, that he also is an adjunct professor who teaches environmental sciences and works with some fairly technical aspects of environmentalism. Back when I knew him, I knew the artist and had no idea he had a solid grasp of, or interest in, hard sciences.

There are other people I’ve Googled because I know they do things that put them in the public eye.

And it’s fun to see what those from our pasts have accomplished. No need to actually contact most of them. There’s just a secret satisfaction in knowing that old friends have done well. I’m happy for those who achieved their aspirations – if not their original dreams of glory, at least dreams that are close enough to it for it to still be satisfying to them. But of all the people I’ve looked up on the Net, Chuck is the one who has stayed truest to his vision even while expanding into things unknown. He’s the one I’ll contact, if only to let him know that he now has a link on a Virginia blog. I think it will tickle him.


AnonymousIsAWoman said...

After re-reading this, I want to make it clear that I did not Google or do a Nexus search of anybody's address, phone number or personal information.

I just surfed the Web for the public accomplishments of those people I knew who did creative things that put them in the public view anyway. And any contact I might make would be through an email or link that they put on their own Website indicating a desire to be contacted.

I want to make clear that I do not encourage anybody to go searching for private citizens or to violate anybody's privacy in anyway.

a.k.a. Zooomabooma said...

It's interesting to see which people from your past have no internet presence whatsoever. No email address anywhere to be found? Not a single webpage with someone's name? In this day and age that's hard to believe especially coming from one of the most densely populated counties in all of the U.S.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Well, strange as it is, some people have no Website presence. As for email, I was deliberately not checking for emails or those "find your long lost classmates" sites. They may want to stay lost. I was simply Googling for the public Websites of people who want to be known and don't mind being found.

I used only Google not Lexis-Nexus or any address searching sites.