Thirty-one years ago, the housemate with whom I’d found an apartment moved out, and I invited a poet friend of mine to take his place. We shared that apartment for several months, until he, too, moved on, and another friend moved in.
Today, I went to see that poet friend for the first time since around 1980. We’d been completely out of touch–but about a year ago, a mutual friend tracked my wife down on Facebook. Turns out that mutual friend also convinced my old housemate to join Facebook, where we found each other a month or so ago.
The friend who moved in after him stayed in that apartment after I left, but later moved to Vesey Street, two blocks from the World Trade Center. It was a primitive form of social media that let me know, finally, that she was OK, two weeks after 9/11.
And there are a number of others.
I remember very clearly the first time something like this happened: AOL was still my Internet portal, so that fixes it somewhere in 1994-95. All of a sudden I got an e-mail from a high school friend. Tom and his wife Liz came up to visit (we live four hours apart), attended my wife’s book party in New York, and have generally reentered our lives. As have Lew and Katherine, the friends who connected us with my old housemate. A few months ago, they moved up from New Jersey to two towns away from us in Massachusetts; we hadn’t seen them since a falling-out somewhere around 1989. Now, we’ve seen them several times. In fact, we’re seeing them tomorrow.
Oddly enough, when I’ve searched for old friends, I haven’t had much luck finding them. But quite a few have found me.
I’ve forged or deepened many connections via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and other communities with people I hadn’t known before–but those reconnections from 20 or 30 years in the past are particularly special.
(A slightly different version of this article was published on Technorati under the title Technology Helps Me Cross Time Tunnels to the Distant Past.)