Once upon a time, I was in the fourth grade, lo these many years ago. 1970/1971, to be exact. I had my first crush, which was not something I understood or could have labeled at the time. She was in another classroom, I never learned her name, and when I tried to figure out the next year who she’d been, I couldn’t. Nobody looked like her. It was formative, in that the way I felt was how I expected love to feel, and it may have helped set the stage for my addiction to unrequited serial crushes that started in seventh grade. The closest thing I had to a crush between those two times was the year-younger sister of a friend in sixth grade, with whom I now work. If anything, that one set a pattern of being terrified, rather than merely clueless. Anyway, in fourth grade, the peak experience was when we were in much-hated gym class at the same time, doing some kind of dance thing, and I got to hold her hand briefly in the course of that. It was like… magic. And she looked nothing like Meg Ryan.
Much later, in 2007, I was invited to Facebook, which I joined under my given name, but didn’t use for an extended time. Basically just had a couple of former colleagues as FB friends. I forget the impetus, if there was one, but before it quite got to where everyone was on Facebook, I became more active and added a lot more people. I thought it was cool to find people from as far back as elementary school, in most cases getting to know them as I never actually did before. In the most extreme case, I friended someone I’ve known her entire life, since she was nine months younger than me. Her father was my father’s best friend, and her parents were the witnesses when my parents got married.
I was surprised some of them even wanted to connect with me, since from my perspective maybe I was embarrassed, which for me tends not to fade or be forgotten, or didn’t like them, or thought they didn’t like me. Time. It passes. There are clear exceptions, and some I don’t understand, as they tend to be people I did like, remember fondly, or have no reason to be embarrassed about.
So it came to be that I even had many of my crushes as FB friends, especially the most major ones, including the first major one, from seventh grade, and the last major one, notable for having finally broken me of fixating on some girl or another – or more than one at a time, sometimes – and convincing myself I was in lurve, capturing That Feeling. Or trying to. The huge exception is my ninth grade crush, arguably my biggest, who strangely, since we never dated, was the first ever to say “I love you” to me. I even have one of the only two girls I think of as people I dated before meeting Deb, whom I arguably didn’t date, just married. Quibbling would give you a couple more, including the one of the major crushes who convinced me no girl would ever have me, and one whose sister’s wedding I was her date for.
But who was the mystery girl?
Finally, this girl named Cheryl came along and friended me. I didn’t really remember her, and only vaguely recognized her maiden name. I never knew her at all. Then someone posts a class picture, with her front and center, in sixth grade. There she is. Looking identifiably the same. She looked completely different, later, with the short hair I actually remember enough to associate with the name.
So I discussed it with her and learned she had not been at the school in fifth grade and part of sixth, thus not being able to identify her the next year. I am so close to certain it was her as to make no doubt. She described our gym teacher as sadistic, and was pleased she brightened the experience a tiny bit. Heh. He wasn’t like the elementary teacher, but the main high school gym teacher I had is one of those Facebook people I have steadfastly not friended. Between my elementary gym teacher and my moderate degree of disability, I was put off gym, or the more recent fad of going to commercial gyms voluntarily, forever. She was tickled, because she didn’t think anyone liked her in elementary school, and pretty much had only one friend. Made worse by an abusive dad. In a fit of synchronicity, she once lived in an apartment just three houses away from where I am now, her favorite one ever. Now she’s in another state, with a superb husband, grown kids, and cute grandkids.
Privacy? All the internet are belong to us/AOL revisited? Scary data mining? Well, yeah. I have a friend who won’t go on FB, or anything else, because she is convinced it will make it easier for the scary conservatives to round her up when they liquidate all the Jews, forgetting that fascists who did that and the like are of the left. Yet I can see being concerned, while it’s also going to have to come to fighting technology and non-privacy with the same. And yeah, it stole the thunder of the blogs circa when I started ten years ago, where you had a sense of community and cross-commenting and linking, but the mega blog sites that want to be news sites also did that (we always talk about how we missed the monetization boat, yet it might not be all that) I will always be appreciative of Facebook resolving that longstanding mystery for me, as well as connecting me with the lives of people I might never have crossed paths with again. That is what it’s all about.