14 September 2009

Old Friends, Old Friends

Last week, out of the blue, I heard from an old friend. The sinister people who orchestrate high school reunions -- you know the type -- have been looking through Facebook, tracking down people who were in our high school class. Not that I have any interest in going to a high school reunion; I can't think of anything I'd like to do less. But we were both caught in their net. Jumper and I went to kindergarten together, sometime back in the early 1600s. We were pals through elementary and junior high school, drifted apart in high school, and I hadn't heard from her since. Turns out, for the past 13 years, we've lived about 10 miles from each other.

We spent part of Sunday enjoying a spectacular late summer afternoon in Seattle, trying to catch up on many decades of life happenings. This was enlivened by the dogs' discovery of a huge caterpillar-kind of thing sticking out from underneath the house. I mean huge -- it must've been 6 inches long, maybe an inch in diameter, pale green -- I've never seen anything like it, and the dogs clearly hadn't, either. Ex-biologist that I am, I would've liked to get a closer look at it, but it seemed kind of rude. Scarecrow finally tossed it over the fence. I still wonder what the heck it was. Anyway, Jumper grew up to be exactly the kind of person I would've expected, from the girl I knew. I would have liked her, even if we weren't already friends. I'm looking forward to seeing her again. There are so many things I didn't have time to ask.

Meeting people I haven't seen in a while can be awkward. It's obvious that something is up. I can't stand, or walk, or move my arms, or use my hands. I use a power chair the size of a small subdivision. It's not like you wouldn't notice. If one were to look on the bright side, I suppose it's easy to pick me out of a crowd.

It's hard to suggest something we might do. Meet for lunch? I don't think so. It must be pretty weird, watching someone who has to be fed. My problem, I know, not theirs; but there it is. Meet for drinks?  I dunno. There's something so not-cool about drinking beer, or wine, or single-malt scotch, with a straw. Not that I've ever been any shade of cool, but there it is. Drinks that normally come with straws usually also have skewers of fruit and little paper umbrellas. So not-me.

This is somehow not such a problem with people I'm meeting for the first time. This is who I am, deal with it. It's harder watching people I haven't seen for a while process the fact that I'm not the person they expected me to be. I find myself resorting to the phone (I hate talking on the phone, but at least I sound normal. Well, as normal as I ever did) or the Internet (you can be a dog on the Internet) rather than meeting in person. My problem, I know, not theirs; but there it is.

Still, it was kind of fun talking to a real person, in person. I should think about doing it more often.


  1. Zoom - it's great you were able to meet up with Jumper. I got the impression you live far away from where you grew up, so it's particularly funny that she's only 10 miles away.

  2. True fact, Cranky. We grew up 1200 miles from here, and neither of us took the direct route. She went from so. CA to Seattle via Boston; I spent 10 years in Michigan. You just never know, do you?