Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Remnants of a Friendship…Part 1

Part 1

I’ve thought about writing about a ten year old friendship, that ended three years ago, for a while now. I’ve mentioned it here and there, but not in great detail. It took me a long while before I was able to talk about it without getting emotional. I woke up this morning deciding today is the day I would start blogging about it. I might write a series of blogs that might end up to be a novella, if I can go through with it. A lot happened in those ten years. Some of those things I will leave out intentionally, others unintentionally, and I’m sure there is a lot I have forgotten or my mind is shielding me from. In any case, it’s totally one sided, so you may have to take what I say with a grain of salt, though I typically do not exaggerate. Still it is my perspective and people often do see things differently. 

What brought this up just now? As you might know, I am trying to get ready to put the house up or sale. I was cleaning out my bedroom to get it ready for the painter to paint and I happened upon three boxes under my bed. Three various sized shoe boxes that hold the remnants of a ten year friendship that was never supposed to end. Three boxes that hold memorabilia, cards, tokens, playbills, and Lord knows what else. No, I haven’t opened them yet. I was deciding the past week if I should look through them or throw them out without opening them. There are a lot of memories packed away in those boxes. I don’t know if I am prepared to go through it all before disposing of them. I feel like I should. It might bring me some final closure on a long chapter in my life. On the other hand, it might stir up some old feelings that have quieted themselves over the past two to three years. While I decide what to do, I woke up thinking I should write about this relationship, though I can’t promise I will finish it. Let’s see what happens and what I find in those boxes over the next few days. First a glimpse of the friendship…

How We Met

In the summer of 1999, a friend of the family came over to set up our new desk top computer.  When he finished, he talked me into trying AOL for the 60 day free trial period. Up to that point, I had only heard about the internet and didn’t want any part of it. But my girls, ages 13 and 11, were tired of living in the Stone Age and wanted to go online. Before I could think about it or say no, the program was installed and we were up and running. Needless to say, we were hooked on the internet in no time. One of the things I wanted to explore was the AOL French chat room that a friend told me about. I always loved the French language, but it had been almost 30 years since I had taken it in high school. I managed to navigate my way into the chat room and saw some people, who I thought were from France, talking in French. At first I was hesitant to type anything because my French was so rusty I only remembered how to say “how are you” and “my name is” and I didn’t want to give out my name to strangers online. So I sat and read and finally got up the courage to say, “Bonjour.” I soon learned that the people chatting were not from France, but people in our country who happened to be French or speak French. I tried once again to say something in French and one of the people in the room started asking me for my name. I said I would not give my name, but the jerk kept harassing me. That’s the moment I met my future friend, AnnaBelle (her screen name). She seemed to speak French very well and told the guy to leave me alone because I was just being “prudent.” She argued with him a couple of minutes and I left the chat room. I figured I either needed to brush up on my French or not bother visiting there any more. Suddenly, an instant message popped up on my screen. It was AnnaBelle asking if I was okay. I told her I was and thanked her very much for intervening, as my French was very rusty, and I couldn’t explain myself. She told me she had seen other people harassed before and had come to their aid. I was touched that a total stranger would come to my defense the way she did. And we ended our brief conversation. The next day I found a thank you e-card and sent it to her with a short note that I painstakingly wrote in French, thanking her again, and I added her to my Buddy List on AOL on an impulse. The rest was pretty much history.

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