Thursday, July 1, 2010

Old Friendships and Nostalgia

I heard from an old friend today....She and I were in the same boarding high school in Amish Country, Pennsylvania (really Lancaster County) a lifetime ago.  What's so great about hearing from someone from your past is that it gives you two opportunities:  One, to remember.  It's fantastic for me to review the person that was then, and to realize how ignorant she was, how innocent.

My main preoccupation was boys, of course, in two major varieties: the ones who paid absolutely no attention to me when the nuns would take us to the boys' boarding school for dances, and the actors or singers that I pasted into my scrapbook.  The latter were quite important, because they created a teenage girl's fantasy world and I suppose that those are the building blocks (along with the relationship with daddy, of course) that help determine the types of men we choose to fall in love with.

My scrapbook was full of James Taylor, Leonard Whiting (who played Romeo), another English actor named Terrence Stamp, and Love Story's Ryan O'Neal.  They all had blue eyes, and apparently, to this Latina, that was irresistible.  Still is - Roger has gorgeous blue eyes.

The other opportunity that presents itself when an old friend contacts you is the one to discover that person anew.  After all, if you haven't kept in touch in a long time, you don't know each other at all....This discovery, I think, will be fun.  What happened to those starry-eyed, romantic, innocent girls?  What about college?  Did she pursue the careers we talked about?  Marry?  Have children?  Travel?  Is she divorced?  The questions are endless.  I hope my friend and I find our way to a mature friendship and I look forward to discovering new worlds with her.

Several months ago, I was contacted by a friend (the magic of Facebook, LinkedIn, school websites...) from college days: Elaine.  We lost touch years ago and she had been looking for me, she said, for awhile.  I was flattered to hear it, and so glad she found me.  With her, it's a lot easier.  We reminisced about our time at Hunter College in New York, how boy-crazy we were, places we went, the men we married, our careers, etc.  We shared a lot of experiences and now that we've found each other again, I feel confident we'll make more memories together.  Elaine and I have a shorthand that comes from empathy and an understanding of the other.

Of course, the ultimate in nostalgia is researching your ancestors.  I've been doing that on-and-off for 20 years now.  My parents gave me the info and photos they had of family members.  It's more complicated for me because my parents and I were born outside the US (in the Dominican Republic).  This means that there's no "" for us....We have to rely on written records and what photos there may be.

I do have an American ancestor, however, and my daughter and I have been busy tracking him down through census and other records.  It's incredibly exciting, I can tell you, when you find any nugget of information.  For my daughter, it's also not that easy doing the research because while she was born in New York, both her parents were born abroad (father from India).  What she can do is build the family tree with me and keep it growing now that she's newly-married.

I've made books of photos for my daughter that hold my parent's wedding photos and their earliest photos and lots of family members and the photos tracing her upbringing and now her marriage.  I believe this is vitally important in grounding a person:  This is who I can from.  These are the people that came before me.  This is my gene pool.   I love this stuff and I hope she keeps it going for her children's children.

Be well,

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