So, I know that I’m supposed to be writing novels and working on the various projects that I have been creating for a number of years; however, there are some things that just have to be dealt with as a creative person, and one of those things is that sometimes the muse just smashes you around the head, and won’t stop beating you until that particular thing is out.
In all honesty, given that I’m prone to not finishing things, I don’t necessarily mind it when things like this happen, because at least something gets finished.
Not too long ago I found myself in this moment of, what I’ve come to call, Wistful Reminiscence, over some memories. So I want to share a little bit of my personal history.
Don’t worry, the song is coming…
First, though, let’s go back twenty years. Twenty and a half, for my mother, who has a tendency to aim for a bit more accuracy in these kinds of conversations. I was sixteen years old, had just finished my first semester at Launceston College in grade 11, and my parents had decided that we were going to move cities.
Now let me just pause here to say that now, I love the fact that I live in Hobart. I don’t regret the move, but at the time, I struggled with it. I’d gone from a small private school in Launceston where I literally knew everyone (or close enough to), to an enormous (comparitively) public college where I still had half my classmates from the previous year for support, and then to an even bigger public college where I knew no one. At all.
I didn’t necessarily handle it well.
It’s not that I was an especially awkward kid. Actually, I look back at who I was in high school and at times, I wonder what happened to that kid, but I guess I was probably a bit overwhelmed by it all, so I retreated somewhere that was safe to me. The internet.
Before Snapchat and Instagram, before Facebook and Twitter, before even MySpace, there were little websites that would come under the banner of “social networks” where people could gather to chat. Chat rooms. At the time, most people thought it strange that you’d talk to people online – oh how things change, hmm? Now most people won’t even answer the phone if you try to call them, they expect a text. I guess in that way, those of us who occupied the chat rooms of the pre-MySpace internet were somewhat of trailblazers and pioneers.
We had that in common, and soon enough, we found more in common. There were deep friendships forged in those chat rooms: friends I still talk to today, friends I’ve met in person, and those who we haven’t been fortunate enough to cross paths yet. There are also many who have been lost to the sands of time, drifting away, little more than a name and maybe a face if we had managed to swap pictures (this is not just pre-smartphone, but extremely early in the development of digital cameras at all).
And of course, as teenagers are wont to do, we didn’t just form friendships, but we fell in love. We formed online long distance relationships before eHarmony was connecting people across the miles, and we endured the struggles that went with it, the heartbreak of the breakups, the drama of falling out with one another, it was all a part of our lives, just like anyone else’s – except it was mostly happening over text, and the occasional very expensive international phone call (don’t even get me started on the dollars spent on long distance calling cards in those days!)
But, as I write in the song that’s just below, “Life just keeps going with the changing of the seasons,” and as it did, lives changed. The world grew faster, and more complicated, and I don’t think that’s just because we got older, I think that the world we live in now is far more difficult than it was fifteen or so years ago, even for the kids coming through who are the age now that we were then. In fact, those kids were born around the times that we were doing all this – that’s kind of scary. We continued with life, staying in touch with some, losing others. Occasionally we found one another throughout the years, others are still missing.
So what happens, when you find yourself wistfully reminiscing about someone from that part of life? In fact, it can’t just be those of us who were online at the time, I’m sure most of us have at least one person with whom we’ve lost contact over the years, that we look back on and wish we could speak to again. It may be a lover, it may be a dear friend, for some it may even be a family member. What does one do, when those memories become so strong, and the desire so intense to see that person again?
It’s the stuff movies are made of, isn’t it? The great love songs. Think of Serendipity, two people, who connected once for a single evening, both about to enter a new chapter of their lives, when they suddenly decide to take destiny by the hand, and make it happen, kind of like Forrest Gump – it’s a bit of both, isn’t it? How many of us actually act on those dreams, though, and seek the person out, or try to get in touch? How many of us wish we could, but get overwhelmed by the possibilities that he or she is now married, or that they don’t remember us as fondly as we do them, or that they simply don’t want to talk to you? How many dreams have not been chased because of fear?
This is for those dreams…