old friends

Mourning the loss of contact with old friends…

On Thursday and Friday of last week, I attended the ACRL Oregon and ACRL Washington Joint Fall Conference. One of the first persons I ran into at the conference was a college acquaintance I had not seen in over seven years. For some people, this may not be unusual. However, this is this first time I have ever run into someone from my undergraduate school outside of a context related to that university. I attended a small, liberal arts university in Virginia, and this conference took place in Oregon. As far as I knew, this old acquaintance had no relationship with libraries or librarianship, which as I discovered was true until recently when she began the distance MLIS program through the University of Washington. Go figure.

I’ve been thinking about old friends lately that I have lost contact with. Some of this was inspired by having recently gotten a great deal on a minidisc recorder/player and finally being able to listen to live recordings I made of a singer/songwriter friend in 1999-2001. For a while, it seemed that Thea Zumwalt was working towards doing music full-time, but her website has disappeared and none of the email addresses I have are working anymore.

One of the many recordings of Thea at the Artful Dodger in my collection makes reference to another old friend, Adi Raz. The last time I tried to email Adi, the message was returned undeliverable. I guess I shouldn’t have let over two years go by without communication. Now I can’t find any contact information for her, which is both sad and frustrating.

For over ten years I have been trying to get in touch with a childhood friend, Katie (Kate, Kathryn) Connolly. About eight years ago, or so, I got her address through her mother and a teacher at the high school where we would have both attended had I not moved the year before. She never wrote back, and the last time I tried, the letter was returned. Our friendship ended on a bitter note, sharply contrasting the sweetness of the friendship to that point. All I’ve wanted since then was to make up for that heartache, but I suspect she’s long forgotten me.

I’ve moved so much in my life that there are countless other people that I occasionally wonder about. People like Susan, my friend who lived down the street with whom I saw (and was frightened by) Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. Joanna Mullins — my first serious crush in junior high school. Dan Nietz — my best friend in high school with whom I lost contact after he got married (although my Dad says he’s seen him around town and gave him my email address… not going to hold my breath, though). And there are and will be others.

I used to be very good at writing letters and keeping in contact with everyone, but as I’ve grown older and busier, my life has become too full to keep up with those who are not a part of my routine. Maybe letting go and moving on is a part of what makes us mature adults, or at the very least, numbs the pain of the loss. I guess I haven’t quite figured out how to do that yet.