Voyeurism

27 10 2009

Ah, the voyeurism of Facebook. It allows you to befriend acquaintances from high school, friends from former lives and relatives that you haven’t seen in at least 10 years. Maybe it’s about getting the friend numbers up there in order not to look like a loser. Because it’s not like you really talk after the befriending. They’re static pictures with profiles.  Once in a while they’ll send an update. After 15 years, you find out that they’re enjoying coffee or their kid is home sick with the swine flu.

But what do you really say after so much time?  Hey, I fuck women now. I hate kids. And I don’t believe in the same bullshit that you do. Instead I put a disclaimer on my page, warning of controversial topics. And some of these friends and acquaintances from my former life disappear quietly–perhaps wishing that they hadn’t learned quite so much and desperately trying to remember the way I used to be.

I’ve clicked on these distant friends, looking at their pictures, asking myself if I look that old. I’m obviously in denial. Then I click on their friends and their friend’s friends. And I start to find people that I used to know. People that I left behind for another life. And I realize exactly how much time has passed. Time enough for children to grow into adults, unrecognizable giants compared to their former selves. Time for hairlines to recede beyond denial. Worry lines turn to crinkles and to wrinkles. Salt & pepper hair turns white. People that were old then, ancient now. Some thinner, some fatter and a few unchanged.

The last time I saw you  . . . . . .

You were at the garage sale that Jessie threw. She insisted on getting rid of all our junk. You recognized the white dress that I let you borrow for some big event. You had a ring on your finger. Before that, we were raking someone else’s lawn and you told me you were going to date him. I think you might have felt bad about it, but you didn’t know then, that I didn’t really care. He was the least of my worries.

 

We were in church. And you made sure you looked the other way. Before that we sat together on a park bench in Zeeland by the fountain where I gave you the “let’s be friends” letter. You cried.

 

I saw you in Ange’s back yard. At least 10 years ago– maybe more. And the time before that was at Vonnie’s when Robbie was like 2. Then again in 1989 on our Spring Vacation. We drove all the way to Dunn. You played the Cocktail Soundtrack. You were into Hippy Hippy Shake. The first time, you were a baby in my house. Gram Fran was there. I got a doll that year for Christmas and I named it after you.

 

We saw you at Family Video store in Holland. You were driving an antique car.

 

You were working at Wal-Mart.

 

 I tried to avoid you as I walked out the church door. Moments before that you had been behind the pulpit giving your sermon.

 

You were in the front row at church. You were grade school age. Your nose was always stuffy because of allergies. I think you had a stack of pogs.

 

Your hair was permed and you were probably playing your trumpet on stage.

 

We were both shopping at Target. You were visiting from D.C.

 

You were up from some other state, visiting. We ate at TGI Fridays.

 

In our 1 bedroom apartment. You told us to try an open relationship.

 

In a smoke-filled apartment in Okalahoma City, the day after New Years. Someone had made Mexican chicken tortilla soup.

 

I have a vague recollection of seeing you last at a nursing home. You must have just started working there or something.

 

You were bringing your son to the Emergency Room. I was on my way into work.

 

We were passengers in a friend’s car. Your boyfriend wouldn’t stop calling.

 

I saw you at Wheatland with your husband, but you didn’t hear me when I called your name. I let it go. You disappeared into the crowd.

 

 

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