An old ghost came back to haunt me a bit this week. I got an e-mail out of the blue from a woman named J. who was the object of a dreadful crush on my part back during my freshman year in college. She had somehow found my e-mail address by accident (my guess: some kind of Google search hit my University web page) and wanted to say "hello". Not having seen her since a cocktail party preceding our 10 year high school reunion in the late 90's, her note was a bit of a surpise... and one which reminds me, yet again, that I'm still only a few steps away from being a nervous, shy adolescent in some ways.
I'm not sure what I can even say at this point about what happened between us during that first year of college. The memories of specific events are fading, and only emotional impressions remain. J. and I knew of each other thanks to a few shared classes in high school, but never really interacted. We then went on to the same local Community College where she caught my eye as a familiar face. We were polar opposites in many ways; I think she'd been dating or hanging out with older guys through much of high school, and I was a social late bloomer who hadn't dated at all. Fools often enter where angels fear to tread however... and I tried to attract her attention in whatever naive, feeble ways I could.
Her reaction was rather opaque to me. She didn't outright discourage me, but she didn't encourage me either. I think she had me pegged right off and figured that I would eventually get the hint and move on... which I did after some months. Months, you say? Well yes... I was basically clueless, and it's not like I was camping out on her front lawn, or anything. I was well meaning and tried to feel my way along very unfamiliar ground... a phone call here, and chance encounter there. Ah, such is the agony of the adolescent crush. I just got to have one at age 18-19 instead of 14-15, late bloomer me. It must be hell to be a very pretty 19 year old girl -- lots of clueless guys circling around you, some nice, some not, all vying for your attention in addition to the ones you actually want to date.
We didn't see each other for several years after that. I finished my two years in community college, moved on to a four year college, and then to grad school. She transferred to another school after that first year to get a teaching degree. We next bumped into each other at our 10 year high school reunion. I'm sure I've documented that encounter in this diary somewhere (again, I need to index this thing -- I'm a trained scientist and scholar damn it, and want to cite work properly!) I've met several people over the years who speak the same language I do (English), yet we tend to annoyingly misunderstand each other at almost every turn. I came away from seeing her that last time realizing that she falls into that group.
Hearing from her again bugs me. I'm not entirely sure why. I think some part of me is embarassed about being young and stupid half a life ago. As I said in my last entry, I find myself daydreaming about being younger and able to skip over all my insecurities and false starts and get right to the "good stuff" that is part of my life now. At the same time, another part of me is pleased to be able to communicate with her. Perhaps it is some ego-driven bit of logic that I wasn't that annoying because she sought me out to say hello when given the chance. Most of all, I'm very annoyed that any of this matters one bit. It's been almost 20 years and half a lifetime since most of this happened. Why should it even be worth the effort of being annoyed?
There is some wisdom in all this somewhere. Something about letting go. Something about being able to laugh at oneself. Something about the glass being half full. Something about growing up. I'm sure this will all resolve itself soon.
on 2005-10-27 at 1:02 p.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond