I confess. I am a Facebook junkie. Twitter? No interest. Sorry, but I can never say what I want in 140 characters or less. I just don’t feel like I’m connecting with people with those quick little hits of text. But Facebook? You have an entire page to write your thoughts, share photos, post news items and those goofy YouTube videos. I love it! There is another reason I love Facebook. Finding old friends. I have reconnected with more friends from high school and college than I could have ever imagined.
Back in the late 70’s – in between the partying at discos and finding my way in the world, I attended Northern Illinois University. In the middle of a corn field close to nowhere, I left home for the first time and moved into a high rise dorm – Stevenson North. Suddenly I was sharing living quarters with 75 women of various makes and models. Now, I was not the most popular or prettiest girl on the floor, but I wasn’t a pariah either. I was just your average 18 year old girl.
Most of the girls, when they weren’t in class, were solely interested in connecting with, hooking up, and hanging out with the guys on our “brother floor.” Every weekend was a series of mixers where the objective was to get drunk, get high, and get la… find a boyfriend – not necessarily in that order. Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVED to party and I sure did want to… ahem, find a boyfriend. But these guys? Ugh. 18 year old guys. Need I say more? I was a Theatre major for Christ sake! I wanted to talk about my favorite musical, A Chorus Line, and discuss the nuances of Anton Chekhov’s social commentary in Uncle Vanya. These dudes wanted to jam to Led Zeppelin and get wasted. Get the picture? Not a lot in common.
Is it weird that I can remember what I wore on my first day of classes at NIU? Brown corduroy jumper with a brown, white and grey striped turtleneck, and Frye boots. Remember them? Oh, and my Dorothy Hamill “Wedge” haircut. Feeling confident in my “first-day-of-school” outfit and haircut, I walked into my first theatre class. I was ready to set the stage on fire with my talent! After all, in high school I was in a lot of the plays and even had the lead in our high school musical, Hello Dolly. Hey, in my mind I had been a big fish in a small pond during high school. Walking into the classroom that day, I quickly realized I was a very small fish in a very big pond. I found myself in a classroom full of actors – all who knew that they were going to be the next big thing. Uh oh. Where did that leave me?
I quickly found a seat and tried to gather some confidence. A few minutes later, a guy sat down next to me and started to chat. He was funny, worldly, charming, and had a bigger than life personality. He made me feel at ease. Before you know it Jeff and I were buddies, hanging out with a group of great people. Chip, Steve, Boots and Tom, Matt, Debi, and an assortment of other characters. Theatre was our common language, but it went so much deeper than that. We did everything together. We travelled down to Jeff’s home town in rural Illinois and met his whole family. I remember a weekend when a bunch of us descended on my parent’s house (they weren’t too sure what to make of us). I sang at Boots and Tom’s wedding in DeKalb. On stage, backstage, hanging out at somebody’s house, we were a support system – an extended, crazy family. It was a wild, wonderful, sometimes awful couple of years. At the end of it some of us dropped out, some graduated, but we all sort of scattered to the four winds.
During the following 32 years, I’ve thought of those times often. Brief moments of “I wonder what ever happened to….” We were young, talented, sometimes (many times) out of control, and pretty much grabbing everything that life brought our way. You know the line, “They were the best of times and the worst of times?” I remember those years like that and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. And despite what may have divided us all those years ago, I still care about each and every one of those people. They helped me grow in ways I never could have imagined, and brought so much laughter and joy into my life.
Okay, so all this reminiscing – get to the POINT already!!!
Facebook! Facebook has given me the opportunity to reconnect with alot of these old friends. Last week I received a friend request from my buddy, Jeff. I swear, I almost started to cry. It felt like all those years just disappeared in an instant. Looking through photos on Facebook and piecing together what has happened in those 32 years. Are we older? Oh yeah. Are we wiser? Jeez, I sure hope so! All I know is that I can’t wait to catch up with my old friend.