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CLASSMATES, FACE BOOK, INTELIUS AND GOOGLE - SEARCHING FOR OLD FRIENDS
photo from braniac, eHow User
Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind ….
She read his obituary in the online newspaper of the town they had lived in. She stumbled across it, looking instead for information of a funeral that her daughter-in-law needed to attend. Lynn stared that the name, the words, the description of his life and thought this had to be a mistake! They had talked just two months prior. Wasn’t it? Maybe three, guilt surged through her brain laughing at her lack of clear memory. Granted, their lives had grown in different directions and since they no longer worked together the daily friendship had dwindled to weekly calls and then monthly, finally settling into a call here and there when one or the other reached out. They were each always happy to hear from the other and talked for more than an hour each time, promising visits soon and to keep in touch more often. She needed to tell her husband, he was Art’s friend too and he would be shocked and terribly saddened. The funeral had passed, it was held two days before. They could not even say goodbye to him.
What had happened? They knew he was terminal but he had been for so many years now the doctor’s would shake their heads in amazement that one who would drink himself to all but complete liver failure could still be surviving. He only went when he was in so much pain even the whiskey wouldn’t bring sweet relief or when his sister would find him skeletal and laughing, with beer in hand, as she came to visit. They would fight and she would win and take him to the emergency room – no scheduling appointments for one who had been committing slow suicide for over twenty years. He despised the fussing, the prodding and pleading and would tell a joke or recount a hilarious antidote to pull the aggressor away from his choices. He had been anorexic for years and in his blurred vision he proudly saw a five foot nine frame with barely a hundred pounds hanging loosely from bones, grinning a crooked smile back at him from the mirror. “Girl, he’d tell Lynn, I was at the bar last night and three cute young guys were hitting on me. His years long friend, and Lynn’s nemesis, would goad him into buying drinks for them all and then try to talk one into his bed for the night, always Art’s pick. Lynn and Art had an unspoken boundary that was a line drawn in the sand – you don’t tell me the details of your sex life and I won’t tell you mine. While his homosexuality often perplexed her, it was his life path and who knew whether is was chosen, genetic or as normal as dark hair and brown eyes. When he told her God hated him she told him the Bible says God hates homosexuality not the person and that was for him and God to work out and she fervently hoped he would.
Lynn didn’t have a phone book for the town his sister lived in so she typed her name into Google and followed that to People Search, then three other “people find” sites before finding his sister’s phone number. They cried together as his sister explained she had forgotten their last name and didn’t know how to get in touch. She recounted the horrific end that a beautiful person encountered. He wanted no visitors but a few made their way to the hospital only to have him pull the sheet close to covering his face and excuse them away as he needed to rest. He would not have wanted Lynn and her husband to see his departure and his family was all around him and even a minister who asked if he accepted Christ as his Savior. His mother swears he moaned in the affirmative and Lynn clings to that every day along with regrets of not staying in touch. There was so much more joy that could have been had for the taking, so many more laughs, more shared sadness and wondering. She had surely squandered it and vowed not to repeat the neglect.
With a list on her desk, she would comb the internet looking for another old friend. This girl had been her best friend from junior high on into adulthood. Before Face book, Myspace, cell phones, blackberries and ipods but few land lines, back in the day of actual phonebooks made of paper, her friend called her one day after many years of having lost touch. She came to visit and went to lunch on the hour that Lynn had from work. They had both changed but her friend had “married well” and seemed to have lost any resemblance to the person who skipped school with her, taught her to gig fish, helped her rat her hair into unheard of heights for their night out dragging the strip and listening to the Top Twenty Countdown on the radio, singing along and memorizing all of the lyrics. This woman drove a car worth more than two year’s of Lynn’s salary, dressed from the finest department stores and smelled of imported perfume. Lynn remembered begging her Mom to buy this friend an outfit with part of her back-to-school budget so she would have something nice too. Both of her parents were alcoholics and her mother left six kids to find her way into the bottom of a bottle. Her older sister and the oldest child, left home at sixteen, soon tired of the appointed job of helping to raise her siblings. Next in line, Lynn’s friend became the female head of house at thirteen and she and Lynn spent as much time caretaking their respective drunken father’s as trying to raise children. Apparently all of these memories, though not spoken, were too prevalent when Lynn would try to keep touch and the budding re-kindled friendship fell the way of yearly Christmas letters full of people’s names that Lynn did not know and notices of newly acquired possessions and trips that Lynn couldn’t imagine.
Still, it had been several years and the new must have worn off becoming wealthy by now. Surely her friend would be comfortable enough to remember the great times they’d had without it bringing back memories she bought away. So with Classmates, Peoplesearch, Mylife and finally Facebook, she found her and shot off a quick enthusiastic message and waited for a response. Lynn realized that her life afforded her much more free time then most so the first month of no replies was understandable. She thought hard about their friendship and questioned if it had been as important to her friend as it had been to her. It had seemed so. There was little one didn’t know of the other and they literally spent almost every single day of three years together without fail. If Lynn didn’t spend the night at her friend’s house then she was at Lynn’s. Their first kisses, first broken hearts, birthdays just seventeen days apart celebrations, first time drinking, many times holding each others hair as one threw up …. all the great markings of teenhood were shared. No, she must be on a cruise, Lynn decided and waited another three months.
After almost forgetting her quest, one day a message appeared from her friend. With an explanation that Face book wasn’t exactly her “thing” she told of her picture that Lynn had complimented in her message and how it was from the wedding for so and so and proceeded to say that her husband would be retiring at sixty and they would be buying out the homestead if the siblings would be reasonable and moving there as their home base and only keeping their other homes on the east and southern coasts. They would downsize and needed to get rid of two Corvettes, a Mercedes, one of their boats, two travel trailers and a few of their other water crafts and three-wheeler vehicles. She received a call about the funeral of someone Lynn didn’t know and cut the message short with no invitation to respond. Lynn ate her supper of macaroni and cheese with hamburger while she typed a reply saying she understood about downsizing. They now had five indoors cats and two dogs, one cat who was an outdoor cat but had adopted them for overnights and meals and a fulltime feral that had two meals a day with them. She didn’t recognize the name of the person who had passed on and even Googled it to see if she should have, only to find it was some upstanding citizen that chaired more boards than the other type of which Lynn’s house was built, but sent her condolences and invited her to stay in touch if she wished to. It was a sad ending, but at least they had been able to say goodbye.
Classmates, Facebook, Intelius and Google – Looking for Old Friends - Part 2
Now the third search, the one most important to her, was for a young man she had known and become extremely close with. His search required much deeper investigating and only by the hand of God or coincidence, she remembered that his birth name was different from the name he went by when they were friends. All her mind would give up was ski – somethingski. She spent money she really didn’t have and paid for information after searching all of the sites she had used before and also incorporated Courts Online for her state, just in case. She told her kids all she wanted for Christmas was search site subscriptions. He had told her if she ever wanted to get in touch to contact the grandmother of his two daughters, he would always be in touch with his girls. She also remembered that he had told her on one of the occasions he called her that his Mother had not only completed rehab but was working as a counselor in a western state. They had been in touch quite a few times after she had moved from the town they had both lived in when her family and he and his brothers were an almost daily fixtures in each others lives for months.
He had come up and taken her to lunch, with her husband invited, while she was at her new job where he had helped her move a few years before. Her husband had declined and her friend was shocked at the difference in her husband and the jerk she had divorced that he had known. This man said he had a philosophy that was simple and direct enough of a message to both of them as they nearly skipped away for lunch and catching up – if he could be replaced by another man than he had no business being married to Lynn. She had told him when she consulted him about her friend’s request to drive up and take her for lunch that with any other man on the face of this earth he had no worries, with this guy, there were unresolved feelings that lingered years after they were lovers then friends. Whatever his reasons for driving 65 miles they had a quiet lunch, reminisced and talked about things in general. He went back to his life and she to hers.
Somewhere down the road he started driving semi and would call her once in awhile, especially when he was in town. He’d ask her to come out to the truck stop and see him, she declined. He said she could even bring her husband, he just wanted to see her, but she really couldn’t leave work as much as she wanted to and months went by before she heard from him again. He called her, very excited about the birth of another child, another daughter. He said the girl was quite a bit younger than him and that she was giving him custody. He was literally on cloud nine about this baby and Lynn was happy for him and felt good that he would want to share something this special with her. She copied down his address but had misplaced it over the years. There had been times in between these that they had run into each other and a time before she was married when he called and asked to stay with her for awhile and she went and got him the same day.
Here it is, years later, and she decides to search for him. As her life has progressed, one after another of the people who had been in her life had passed on, her Mother, Mother-in-law, a classmate, her Stepfather, a very close friend and each time she felt there were things she wished she had said, time she wished she had spent with them instead of being a miser of her time and energy. Her search for her biological father found he had died nearly ten years before. This time, she was going to succeed in finding this friend and thank him for all he had contributed to her journey out of a life of abuse, self doubt and accepting less than she deserved. She knew when she met her husband that he, like this friend, valued her and was behind her one hundred percent in whatever she set out to accomplish. Her friend had pointed her in the direction of self worth by telling her she was smart and capable, pretty and worth loving and after a time she began to believe it. While they didn’t have a future together, hers had been a blessed one and she wanted to know if his had been too.
She found his last name, then a divorce, a remarriage to another woman and addresses across the country from east to west and back, then his wife in the south. Finally, she found his Mother and sent a message, explaining who she was and that she was looking for him and his brothers. One of them lived with her along with one of his son’s. She messaged back that he did, indeed, remember her and how much she had helped them and the Mom she would pass along Lynn’s phone number when she heard from her other son. Somehow it didn’t sound like she heard from him often. This was just after his November birthday. Christmas was coming and Lynn hoped for a phone call. In the mean time she found his present wife’s Face book account and sent a message there. Christmas passed and no response came from anyone, not even an acknowledgment of her message. She researched the grandmother of his girl's and found she had passed away. Further searching found the mother of his two girl’s, remarried and without a listed phone or any type of social networking. However, both girls had accounts. One had MySpace and the other had Face book but the settings were private even to receiving messages. She wrote a brief message to the other daughter and then messaged, who she believed to be a friend of the girls,and who had a Facebook account, asking if she would have his daughter check her account for the message, since the MySpace account didn’t look like there had been any activity in a couple of months. The girls were in their twenties.
Lynn fast became the stalker. The girl she thought was a friend turned out to be an older stepsister who messaged, “We do not know you. PLEASE LEAVE US ALONE. DON’T EVER CONTACT EITHER OF US AGAIN! We have told our father to get in touch with you.” Lynn was horrified, she had terrified his children.
She wrote one more message. “I'm so sorry - I didn't mean to freak you out or anything. I was just looking for a way to get in touch with him. My kids gave me a program subscription as a present so I could do Ancestry.com and I looked up some of my school friends and people I used to know. I won't bother you again and, again, I'm so very sorry if I caused you any hurt or distress - I never meant to.”
Lo and behold another message, from her friend’s wife’s phone to her Face book account. January 7th, 2011
“You finally got Bob's attention”
Lynn hasn’t searched anything else. As a matter of fact she only peaks at her Facebook account, praying there are no new messages. At what point did her enthusiasm become obsession? What are the rights of people who search for lost family and loved ones versus the rights of those they contact? These days Lynn’s memories of her friend are tainted with regret and a wish she could turn back time and let sleeping dogs lie.