Yesterday I was contacted by someone I went to high school with. I recognized his name and could vaguely conjure up his face, or at least the one he wore back then. Other than that, I don’t remember much about him. We had some mutual friends, which is why he was emailing me. He wanted to see if I was still in touch with someone and could supply contact info. I apologized and told him I couldn’t help. I didn’t mention that according to Google Maps I’m 6,597 kilometers away from the old hometown. My assumption is that he had learned that in the process of looking me up, but maybe not. He could have just found this website, and hit the contact form.
I want to say that I briefly dated his sister or his cousin. That I can’t remember her name or her face bothers me, but I remember being at her house, after school, watching Luke and Laura get married on General Hospital and he was there. According to Wikipedia that was 17 November 1981, almost 37 years ago. I think I can be forgiven if the details are a bit fuzzy. Try as I might, I also have no recollect of asking her out or breaking up with her, but she and I were steady for at least a couple of months. He was a year or two behind me in school. I Googled him and found a current picture. He’s bald and gray now, and looks ten years older than I do. I take some solace in the fact that I’m aging reasonably well.
Searching for more info on him is something I regret. I mean, this isn’t someone I was ever close to. There was really no point. I answered his question, transaction done. Yeah, I kind of wanted to solve the mystery of the sister (or cousin), find her name or maybe a current photo to jog my memory. I feel like a bad fake psychic when I say I’m seeing something about Dr. Pepper, or a doctor and a “P” name? What I got from my query were some photos of him in a red trucker hat. You know the kind. A ton of memes with flags and eagles, too. Tons of hateful things about the President before this one, which at least partially explains the hat.
Oh, and those pictures had other people that I knew back in the day. They’d also aged terribly and bought themselves hats. It was chilling. As real as current reality is for me, and as terrified as things make me, there’s still a part of it that’s abstract. I’ve been over here since 2014. I haven’t been back to the hometown since 1996. That there are people I knew, in the place that I grew up, embracing this madness was viscerally disturbing. I acknowledge my privilege.
I’m grateful that I live where I live. My goal is to stay here forever, even though I have a better claim to being able to see Russia from my window than whatsername. I give thanks on a daily basis that I have the friends that I have. Kind, compassionate, sane people. That’s as political as I want to get in a public space. I’m an expat. I’m an immigrant. My life is in the hands of not one, but two governments. I have good reasons to play things close to the vest. To not make waves. But damn it, I am alternately happy and terrified on a moment-to-moment basis, comparing what things are like here compared to what’s happening there.