Saturday, January 17, 2009

Facebook, You Are A Hundred Awesome

One of the roughly ho-jillion reasons that I love Facebook (MySpace, not so much: sort of annoying and adolescent) is the ability to re-connect with people I lost touch with years ago.

Interestingly enough, the majority of my Facebook friends are people I met at church camp. Yes, I did indeed go to church camp, for four years and then a fifth year as a staff member. Church camp, when you're 14, is a fully-parentally-sanctioned place to meet boys. There's a lot of hugging, and hormones, and lots of excuses to take pictures and exchange phone numbers with the boys you like the best. It's a weird place, and the fact that it's only a week long once a year makes it a far more heightened atmosphere than high school, which is in some ways the same but with the same people all year. That heightened atmosphere led to some intense friendships--it's when you make the friends who you don't think you can live without, friends who you think will always be your best friends.

Then there's college, which is its own kind of heightened atmosphere in itself. You're losing touch with all those high school and church camp friends and making different friends, and there's the added freedom of being away from home, and testing boundaries that you never had the opportunity or the nerve to test before. Those friends are a different breed of friends than the church camp friends, a more sophisticated sort of thinking you can't live without someone. Still, you're in the process of becoming more yourself, and you've got a bigger pool of people to choose your friends from, and those friends begin to replace your other friends--if not in your mind, certainly in your daily schedule and the forefront of your mind.

There's something about the people who knew you half a lifetime ago. You know their secrets--how one person lost their virginity, how another person got arrested for public nudity, an abortion somebody had, how someone had their heart broken by someone else (of the same sex, but you're really the only one who knows that.) And they're the people who know your secrets, the things you never meant to tell anyone but that just came out, and they never told anyone. You're grateful for having somewhere for all those secrets to go and die, and relieved that somebody knows you this well without ever having to recount your secrets for them, and thankful for the bond of knowing that they know, and knowing that they know you know. You won't ever have someone who knows you this well again until you meet the person you marry (or, if that's not a possibility for you, the person you decide to spend your life with.)

Somehow, this just isn't the kind of friend you make after the age of about 20. You're old enough, at that point, to recognize the transient quality of life, that friends will probably float in and out of your life and be replaced by things like spouses and kids and houses and jobs. Your secrets will seem less dramatic. There will be simple considerations like you don't have the kind of time to have four-hour phone conversations with your camp friends in which you tell them the first name of every boy you ever kissed, or you live too far away to sit on the front steps of the student newspaper with your college suitemate smoking cigarettes and talking about boys. Also, you both quit smoking, which was of course the prudent thing to do.

Facebook is a way to reconnect with the people who knew you that way. There just aren't enough phone books in the world, and there's something awkward about calling up your best camp friend from 20 years earlier: "It's me! No, a different"

I love Facebook because it just reminds of the smallness of the world.

This morning, I had a message from another camp friend. She and her husband (who was yet another camp friend of mine; I was there when they met) moved to Brussels last fall, but the great shock was that they moved there from Greenbelt, Maryland--fifteen minutes from where I live. I was shocked, and a little sad, that they were so close all this time, and now they've moved away. I've thought of them so many times in the last few years, and they have a daughter who, I think, looks close to Max's age. I wish I'd known that sooner.

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

I'm not on facebook, so we'll just have to rely on my neurosurgeon to reunite us. And really, there are times I could still very much go for a smoke with you.