Letterbox

27 01 2016

About a week ago, while getting my haircut, my hairdresser Amy mentioned that she went to a funeral a few days prior to my appointment.  She said that I might know the woman who died because her husband was friends of the family through one of the sons, and the youngest son was my age.

Then she mentioned the name and I flashed back to a few weeks earlier when this very name came up in “conversation” with other friends on social media.  Because, you know, life is weird like that.

The reason the name was originally brought up is because the guy in question was a classmate of mine, and everyone that we went to school with seemed to have lost touch with him after 1989 or so.  He has no social media presence, and in fact, no internet presence at all.  Unless, of course, he is using a different name.

Otherwise, no Twitter, Facebook, not even LinkedIn.  Google also provides very little help, and it’s not like he is named John Smith or something.  I know this because I’ve looked for him three times that I can think of:  when he was on the “missing persons” list for our 10 year class reunion, the same with the 25th, and then last month when his name came up again while talking about someone else.

When I showed up at my new elementary school in 3rd grade, he and I became instant friends, along with another kid who remembered me from kindergarten and who ended up passing away a few years ago in a motorcycle accident.

Anyway, my friend – let’s call him James – and I were pretty much inseparable from 3rd through 6th grade.  Weekends were either spent at my house or at his, usually the latter, and I even went on annual trips to Iowa Park (I know – the Wichita Falls area is so happening!) every summer with he and his mom to visit his grandmother.

Of course, the inevitable kicked in as we got older.  After 6th grade, we were in middle school with a bunch of new kids to pick from and we pretty much quit hanging out.  He played basketball and I was president of the computer club (with those fancy new TRS-80s).

We were still friends, but we didn’t hang out anymore.  That happens when you start reaching a certain age, when there are other things to have interest in besides baseball cards and egging houses.

High school remained status quo.  James played basketball, had a long term girlfriend, and was in “regular” classes (though he was no dummy), I played baseball, dated about as successfully then as I do now, and was in TAG classes.  We’d say hello when we saw each other, but that was about it.

The last time I saw him was on graduation night in 1988.

Again, that is no big deal except that his life became a mystery to what seems like our entire class.  Where is he living?  What does he do for a living?  And is he ok?

Well I know the answer to the first question above now but I don’t know what to do with the information.

Amy saw James at the funeral and told me that he could probably use a friend right now.  And with my mom also passing away recently, I had an automatic conversation starter at the ready.

But I just can’t see me going to ring his doorbell out of the blue.  “Hey, James.  We haven’t really had a long conversation since 1981 or so… um, how are you doing?” 

It’s just weird.

James is probably perfectly happy remaining anonymous and out of touch with old friends.  Hell, maybe he has a bunch of new friends that he hangs out with and can talk to.  Or if he doesn’t, maybe that is because that’s the way he likes it.

So as tempted as I am to reach out to him, I think I’m just going to let him continue to carry forth in his current lifestyle unimpeded by an old friend dropping by out of compassion for his loss.  Yes, and curiosity, too. 

Or maybe I can just mail him a letter?

Maybe.

I’ll never know what you’ll find when you open up your letter box tomorrow
‘Cause a little bird never tells me anything I want to know, she’s my best friend, she’s a sparrow
And I’ll never never know what you never never never want to know when you know what you are, O.

– “Letterbox”, They Might Be Giants

letterbox

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