Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The future: where we will live the rest of our lives

As I think I've mentioned, I'm currently living in the city where I grew up, and while growing up I was the typical socially awkward nerd. At a party last week, I met "Juliana" a woman who was not very interesting or noteworthy. When Juliana friended me on facebook, I noticed she was 2 years older and her last name "Weathersmithford" sounded slightly familiar, but I didn't think much about it. Gradually the name "Mary Weathersmithford" percolated to my consciousness and I felt my heart skip a beat. Mary was a year younger than I was, possibly her sister, and had mercilessly teased me throughout sixth grade, which I found particularly humiliating since I was older than she was.

When Juliana added friend details, I rejected them since I don't like that level of detail on facebook. When she added them again, I was curious why, so I decided to see if all of her friends had friend details. Indeed, they did, and near the top of her list of friends I noticed Katherine Cromwell. I inhaled sharply.

I'd been in school with Katherine beginning in kindergarten. She had always seemed friendly, and sometimes she really was. Starting in middle school, she and a few friends made an assiduous and ultimately successful effort to separate herself from the hoi polloi while seeming desirable to them. Naturally, Katherine had kept in touch with our classmates. I'd left with my few close friends and never looked back. Looking at her facebook friends, suddenly I felt like I was in middle school, granted access to a magic book of the future: some outcasts were attractive, and I cheered and friended them. Seeing others, I resisted the urge to run away or at least change my privacy settings.

I'm sure most of these people have abandoned their adolescent pettiness, and I may even be friends with people who were once petty adolescents. If I ever met these people, some might be interesting and with others my biggest concern would be politely excusing myself to end a boring conversation. The adolescent angst nonetheless still has surprising immediacy, and living in the city where I grew up, I may be reminded of it more often.

Thankfully, time only goes forward.

(I tried but failed to find the exact quote of the opening line of Plan 9 from outer space, which is about how the future is important because it is where we will live the rest of our lives.)

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