One of my earliest posts was about reconnecting with friends via internet social networking tools like Facebook. This past week has been another big week for finding and being found! I found two high school friends on FB, which led to another finding me -- and she passed along contact information for another friend (who is not on FB) and told me about several mutual friends she still encounters regularly.
My family moved to Emporia, Kansas the summer before my Freshman year of High School, and my dad promised that we'd be there at least long enough for me to graduate. Coming from a military life, I had already attended several different schools by then, so it meant a lot to me that I would be at one school for four years.
When I got there, I found a very different world than the one I'd known. I discovered that most of my classmates had lived in Emporia their whole lives. For me, home was wherever my immediate family lived at the moment. Many had never been out of the state, and I'd spent very little time in America. They had lots of history together and I had history with no one outside of my family and a few friends from my previous school in Germany with whom I corresponded (REAL letters that you actually mailed and then waited days and days for a reply)
My Great-Aunt Helen jumped in and arranged introductions to a few girls my age, one of whom became a very good friend. She is a musician and her father was a physician and that gave us two great starting points. She was one of the first two people I found on Facebook.
When school started, the English class I would like to have been in was full, so I found myself in a very small English class that seemed to be where they put the leftover students. That's where I met a girl who would be a great friend through high school and beyond (she's the other person I found the day I signed up for FB).
It was a tough adjustment. I remember one day, early in the school year, we were discussing recent movies while waiting for Algebra to start. When I commented that I had seen the movie being discussed, a fellow sitting across from me said, "You watched movies in Germany?" To which I think I responded "Ummm....yes...did you think we all lived in castles and rode horses?" I got the impression that that was exactly what he thought.
I felt terribly like a fish out of water in Emporia for a couple of years, but the more people I got to know, the happier my existence became. I came away from those four years much the richer for the experience.
During college I went home for 2 summers and 4 Christmas breaks, and that was about it. I finished my coursework in 3 years, then taught 2nd grade for a year. Two weeks after I finished the school year, I began a period of missionary service for my church -- two months spent learning Dutch, then 16 months living and serving in the Netherlands. Not long after I returned, my family relocated to Colorado Springs, and I lost track of nearly everyone I'd known in Emporia. (Which would NOT have happened if we'd had FB and email back then!)
All this reminiscing is leading up to something fun I did this weekend -- I phoned one of my friends from High School. As we chatted, I was amazed by how easy and comfortable our conversation was. We got caught up on families, swapped stories, and just enjoyed chatting. The years fell away. You would think it had only been a few months since we had chatted, not many years. I think that is a mark of a good friend -- when you can pick right up and feel like you've never been apart.
I was only in Emporia for 4 years, and I have often wondered if anyone with whom I went to high school even remembers me. For my classmates, that 4 years translates to less than 10% of our lives at this point, which isn't much. I was humbled this weekend to realize that even as I remember people and experiences, so am I remembered. Thank you Susan and Kandi!