Thursday, May 22, 2008

Facebook Friends

I don't exactly live on the cutting edge. I'm not a complete technophobe (exhibit A: this blog), but I'm usually a few years behind whatever the latest cool piece of technology may be. Hell-- I'm usually behind yesterday's cool piece of technology.

I had a VCR and no DVD player for so long that I had to have people make VHS copies of movies for me. I only started using a cell phone all the time and knew the phone number to give out to people after Ruby was born. While I now own an iPod, I'm mortified to admit that I still haven't loaded any music onto it. I LOVE music and listen to online radio, regular-old radio and CDs all the time. I just haven't taken the leap. It's odd. I know how to buy and download music, I've burned CDs, but that's it. I have my toes in the water but I'm hanging out near shore, I guess.

It should come as no surprise then that I only recently embraced Facebook--or The Big Book of Face as I like to call it. My friend Liz invited me to join this social network several weeks ago. I set up an account a couple weeks later with my name and no photos or other information. Then, my former co-worker and token Republican friend Matt found me there and invited me to be his "Facebook friend." This is how "out of it" I am: Whenever someone invites me to be their Facebook friend, I giggle. It feels like I'm in third grade and another 8-year-old just knocked on my door and asked me to come out and play.

So, I decided I would dive into the whole Facebook thing, even though I am YEARS behind everyone else. On Sunday, I updated my profile, added some photos, and asked a few other people who I knew had Facebook accounts to come out and play and be my Facebook Friends.

That's when I discovered the Friend Search feature. You can plug in any name at all and when you hit "search," up will pop images of all the people with that name all over the world who have a Facebook account. I started searching for long lost friends, ex-in laws, former co-workers, college and high school classmates, and one old boyfriend in particular, who disappeared from my life 20 years ago. (To protect his privacy, at least for the time being, I'll call him Zeke. Zeke Flossie.)

So, I typed in "Zeke Flossie" and about 10 people popped up. One looked a little like the guy I dated in the mid to late 80s so I opened up his list of friends. One of them was named "Monty Flossie" which I remembered was his brother's name. I couldn't believe it! Was it him? The last time I knew Zeke. he lived in Groton, CT. His Facebook profile photo said he was from Sarasota, Florida and he was involved with classical music. We listened to The Clash, Simple Minds, INXS, and REM, not Rachmaninoff. I took a chance anyway and sent a message via Facebook, asking if he was the same "Zeke Flossie" who gave Julie Baker his dolphins in the late 80s. (Zeke was a Petty Officer in the Navy assigned to a submarine when I dated him. After he went on his first dive underwater in the sub, he got a dolphin pin which many of the guys, including Zeke, gave to their girlfriends.)

I couldn't believe it when he answered my message. It was him. Zeke said he had always wondered what became of me. It was so strange seeing his name in my email inbox. When we dated, there was no email!

Zeke is the only ex-boyfriend I know. I certainly wasn't a nun before I met him, but he was my first "relationship" in sobriety (not to be confused with a one- or two- or three-night stand or a month-long obsession). I met him when I was 20 and we dated for a couple years on and off. I thought I was in love. I probably was, as much as I was capable of at the time. During our time together, we weren't always together. Some of the time he was underwater in the aforementioned submarine and some of the time we were broken up. You see, Zeke wasn't sure he wanted to be with me after he read my journal and found out I slept with my now ex-husband John while he was at sea. Yup. As the World turns had nothing on me. Like most of my relationships, it was complicated. I do not miss the drama that I used to create in my life.

Zeke decided at some point that he didn't want to go out with me anymore (can you blame him?), but he neglected to actually tell me that. I kind of got the message when he stopped calling me and went to sea without saying goodbye. When a mutual acquaintance asked me if I was happy he was home, I realized the boat had docked and that I didn't have a boyfriend anymore.

My response to this realization was to call John and start a long distance, rebound relationship. (I was not the evolved, emotionally aware woman of grace, honor, and dignity that I am today.) Several months after that, John and I fell in love, and I moved to Boston to live with him. Fifteen years and two amazing children later, we split up because we grew in different directions and all the couple's counseling in the world couldn't put us back together again. It was truly a Humpty Dumpty marriage.

When I split with John, I took some time to myself before starting to date. I had never done this before. When I was ready and my committee concurred, I dated online like CRAZY, determined to not jump into another relationship. I wasn't sure if I was a good judge of character when it came to romance, so I literally dated anyone and everyone who wanted to go out with me. I had a blast and after many, many dates with many, many men where I didn't have to sleep with all or even most of them, I realized that I was comparing most of the guys to Bald Hot Ken, one of my first online dates.

So, now I have a current boyfriend, an ex-husband and an old boyfriend. WEIRD. I'm used to shutting the door really, really firmly on the past. Facebook and other social networks have completely eradicated that habit. And, I'm glad. I got the opportunity to thank Zeke for things he taught me and to take a trip down memory lane. Who knows? Perhaps, I'll also have the chance to make amends and have a new, old friend in Sarasota.

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