Friday, October 28, 2011

Hall of Mirrors

If life expectancy is hereditary, mine could go either way. One side of my family lives into their 90s, the other has folks dropping off like flies in their 60s and 70s. Lately, I find myself thinking about the half-life mark - specially since DB and I got married. Somehow, having the path to the future defined, has brought in its wake, the need to stop, take stock and yes - self-flagellate. An urge to reconnect with long lost friends apparently comes with this particular territory. I wonder where S (my best friend) with is, how she is doing, if we could talk all night like we did in our college days, if we would have even one thing in common anymore - and I chide myself for letting my communication with S ebb away.
Not knowing the answers to those questions bothered me enough to begin a search. So easy in the time of Google and Facebook and yet so perilous. Now S is nothing if not notoriously private and so are many of our common friends. Finding S, I discover is no walk in the park. I don't know if she is now married and if she uses her husband's last name. My quest for S, however leads me into uncomfortable territory - I have to start looking up hubs in our social network hoping they will somehow lead me to her.
These are folks with two hundred plus friends (which sadly do not include S). Some faces have not changed that much, others have transformed beyond recognition. And that is the easy part - the devil is in the details; careers, spouses, kids, holidays and the endless stream of pictures with everyone in them smiling a hundred percent of the time. My quiet world feels the full force of the information overload. I begin to wonder how I have fared relative to my peers - on all counts. I fear I may have "gained the world and lost my soul" -I fear that I may not be high enough on the happiness quotient relative to my reference group - nothing else matters nearly as much.
I think back to the days of our early youth, we were very different then too. This was the "fun" crowd - they were about taking it easy and having a great time - work came only as an afterthought. Some of them were very bright and enterprising so it comes as no surprise that they are doing very well professionally. This was the crowd you hung out with when you wanted to chill. Things have not changed that much - in time, the moments have added up and online I get to see their life distilled - with its best, most shining moments on parade for the world to see. It is like being in a hall of mirrors - things are not exactly what they appear to be and yet nothing is fundamentally untrue.
As I swirled through the maze, it became evident that S would remain hidden by her invisibility cloak as would some of my other friends. If at some point in their lives, they felt the strange pressure that reaching half-life mark exerts, they may do what I tried - maybe we will connect then.

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