Wednesday, September 17, 2008

now that we've grown up together

My parents can be a little overly dramatic at times, and it's often easy to tease them for it. They live in a safe, quiet area in suburban prepster land, but they watch a lot of those paranoia-inducing news programs, so you can guess what happens. I never much liked the idea of being afraid of nothing.

It's been so long since I lived in EBF that I can easily slip into thinking of it nostalgically. Looking at it now, it is just one more bland-looking suburb. But when I was a kid, it seemed more in the middle of nowhere, more beautiful. I remember that sometimes, for no reason at all, after school, I would just drive around. It would cheer me up. No matter how bad a day I might have had, or how boring life seemed to be, there was always something beautiful to see on those drives. My memories are tied up in that, in a long walk to school through the woods, in summers spent running around with neighborhood children, in holding hot chocolate at the top of ski slopes.

I conveniently forget everything else. Forget, because what's the point of remembering? But I was teasing my mother the last time I was visiting about something to do with the extra locks she had put on the doorway. And then she got fed up, and explained. My father had been away for business. She had opened the door and noticed something strange. There was blood all over the pane of the door. There were slabs of meat strewn at the door and around the walkway to the door. No one was there, and it was morning, but my mother was, understandably, freaked out.

When the police showed up, they took the information down but said this happened from time to time, neighborhood kids, just being kids. My mom wasn't even upset about this response, just kind of shrugged and had told me only so that I would stop arguing with her.

Now, nobody did this to my house while I was in high school. There were a few prank calls, but there was never so much as a TP of the house. But I don't know. I guess I'm kind of guilty of something. I can't really pick it apart, EBF and its people. I suppose that's why, after all these years, I get so neurotic about Facebook friend requests. I left EBF behind me, and I just somewhere along the way decided that I didn't really matter there, that I was a sort of ghost growing up, just a shadow really. I never really felt so much in place there, and so, when I disappeared, I just assumed no one would ever know existed.

I'm not totally wrong about that, either. I wrote about an anecdote from my adolescence here once and stupidly used real names (now removed to prevent future occurrences such as this), and a comment got dropped by someone who had been present for the whole thing. She remembered the entire story I was telling, except for me. She didn't know who I was. And that's sort of how I think of EBF, that I was just some alien observing a different species.

The latest person who Facebook friended me was someone who, in high school, would likely have never admitted that he was actually my friend. I don't hold that against him because 1) as teenagers, boys pretty much don't like to admit to that sort of thing, and 2) this was EBF and I always got the feeling you lost a little street cred by associating with me. But still. I took off for parts unknown, and we never kept in touch, never even made empty promises to keep in touch. So, why, now, try to friend me by Facebook?

It's so much safer, so much easier, the dilution of it all that things like Facebook and this online age provide. I am definitely a fossil, because when I was in high school, there was no email, no IM, not even cell phones. You wanted to talk to a girl? You had to man up, get on the phone, and even talk to her disapproving mom before you could get to the fumbling, stammering conversation with her. Want to keep in touch after high school? You had to make some serious effort, or it wasn't going to happen. I'm not blaming anyone, because I certainly made no effort.

And I like Facebook, you know. It's a good time-suck, and it's fun to sort of surf through and see what is going on with people without having to have long, drawn-out conversations. But, at the same time, for someone like me, it's confusing. I feel like, when you're younger, you don't do any accounting- you don't divide up people between real friends, good friends, nice enough acquaintances, Facebook friends. At most, you have some designated BFF-of-the-week, and everything else is just gravy. The rest are all just friends, and in some ways, it's a better way to live.

So, there you have it. Facebook neurosis. Blame it on EBF- it's so much easier that way.

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