January 25th, 2003

caillebotte_man at his window


When I first got Sluggo (almost two and a half years ago, I just realized), one of the first web sites I stumbled across wasClassmates.com, which was then fairly new, itself. I stuck my name on my high school class list, and I think I was about the fifteenth or sixteenth person there. I've gone back from time to time, and watched the list grow. Out of some 400 members of my graduating class, about a quarter are now registered at the site. It has been interesting to watch the names appear. I see a name and (sometimes) my memory is jogged.
Hey, I remember him....Uh, wasn't she the one who changed her hair color about ten times?...Oh, Crap! That asshole?...Oh, cool! I wonder what she's doing these days?...Wow! I wouldn't have thought that guy could ever have learned to operate a computer!...Man, I thought he'd be dead by now!...And I thought he was dead!
I also watch for particular names to show up. There aren't many people I remember all that fondly from high school who I have not kept in touch with, but when one of them appears on the list, I'm always pleased. Still, even before Classmates began withholding member's e-mail addresses from all but paying subscribers, I never contacted any of them. I thought about it a few times, but never got around to it. I suppose I thought that things on the Internet would always be free, and I had plenty of time. As it turned out, LiveJournal is just about the only thing worth having that's free, and I have a paid account. If I was willing to cough up the $29.95 a year, or whatever it is now, I could have a paid account at Classmates, too, but I haven't done it. Maybe it's because LiveJournal has been a much more pleasant experience for me than high school was.

The thing is, I have mixed feelings about high school. The parts of it that I liked were very good, and the parts I didn't like were horrendous. There are also parts which have left my memory altogether, but I don't know if that's because they were too dull to remember, or to awful to remember. I just don't remember. I have never been to one of my class reunions. There was one a few months ago, in fact, and I don't think I even mentioned it in my journal. I had some curiosity, of course, but, if I didn't go to them when I was living in Los Angeles, and only had to go a few miles to get to them, I'm certainly not going to travel several hundred miles to get to one. I suspect that few, if any, of the few people I'd have most liked to have seen would have shown up, anyway. And, of course, it was unlikely that I could have recaptured those rare moments of which I have positive memories. While I do have many which involve other people, the truth is that than, as before, and as now, most of the things I remember most vividly are things which I experienced as an observer, rather than as a participant. I don't think this resulted form any shyness, and certainly not from any misanthropic tendencies (though I admit to a bit of each), but simply because I am a loner who enjoys crowds. I am, after all, the guy who used to take his paper journal to places such as bowling alleys and bus stations to write.

Certainly, I'm willing to become engaged in gatherings, especially if you get a couple of drinks into me, and I've even been known to be one of those obnoxious people who makes himself the center of attention. But my real milieu is inside my head, looking out at the world. Had I gone to any of my reunions, I would most likely have ended up merely watching, adding another layer to old images, And, had I brought up those parturient moments, those old epiphanies I recall from the past I shared with these people, they would not have known what I was talking about. They were there, but they weren't there. Seeing some of them, and talking to them, might have triggered some of those memories in my head, and that might have been interesting. But merely seeing their names appear on that web site can trigger those memories, too, and without any great interference from the present moment, here in the quiet of my room, listening to the hum of Sluggo's hard drive. In the midst of that appealing crowd, new layers would probably have been inevitable. At this age, I don't know that I need yet another context added to old experiences. So, I suppose I'll just keep watching that list at Classmates, and letting the associations it triggers do their work. Maybe someday I'll be ready to go back to that world and read any revelations it may have for me. For now, I'm happy just to look for the revelations I have lurking in myself.