In an age of inter-connectivity
At one time, I made my phone calls from phone booths. Traveling from San Francisco to New Orleans on the greyhound bus and back through Texas, Arizona and Los Angeles by way of hitching rides and hopping freight trains; making phone calls wasn’t a priority. I used to put some quarters in, spit my words out until a recorded voice gave a 30 second warning, then beep, call’s over. No internet or smartphone. Connection lost.
I’m a huge fan of technology. But, the idea of being lost has its up sides.
I loved the freedom of riding trains. The freedom to become something else, to show up unannounced and without a plan and lose the parts of yourself you’ve become tired of holding on to, along the way. Meeting new people without an introduction through friends or shared interests, gave opportunity to create yourself anew again and again. I became many different personalities, people that I normally wasn’t, like someone who didn’t complain about the cold, or lack of food. It forced me to use better parts of my personality, stronger parts, that I didn’t know I had.
I came back to living on the grid in 2001. I pursued school and work and received jury summons.
For fifteen years, I searched for an ex online. It was a tragic story that ended in hospitals, homeless shelters and other things that start with h. I had questions about his survival and I enjoy solving mysteries, so periodically, I’d search. My quest began with asking so and so to keep an eye out at his regular spots on the street in California, to scanning obits to searching the web for glimpses of a life lived. His moniker is a different spelling of a name that google couldn’t recognize as existing or belonging to a person. My complete inability to find information lead me to think the worst.
Life seems like a story sometimes, that you understand the plot for only as it is happening. A particular interaction may seem banal for years and then will re-surface years later when making a comparison to a similar instance sheds new light on the old one. These are the twists I crave, when my thinking slips into place on a subject. When I found the ex on social networking I had one of those moments. Looking at his picture, sitting in his aged self, I knew too much, the beginning and end of the story. As painful as it was, I enjoyed the story of my loss and the possibilities that laid within it much more than the reality.
Sometimes, people don’t want to be found.