Thursday, March 25, 2004

There's a reason I'm not nostalgic for high school

I was recounting a story for Kristin last night and realized that it was ideal blog material. It’s like something out of a bad 80s movie, it’s grown way beyond its original scope or importance, and it’s a perfect anecdote to summarize the vagaries and karmic misfortune of my love life. I’m only using last initials—to protect people from what, I don’t really know; it’s a fairly harmless tale—but if you’re a member of the HHS Class of 1994, you know who you are.

Once upon a time there was a boy named Ryan M. I first met him when we were in the same 7th grade homeroom class (shout out to Mr. Pattison). I liked Ryan immediately. I realize now that he fit my “type” (while simultaneously looking like a pubescent Harrison Ford), but he also was just a good guy—smart, witty, kind, and not prone to the dickhead maneuvers so common among teenage boys. The flame of my crush on him burned especially bright that year, and then slowed to a simmer in years to come. While I liked and dated other guys in high school, Ryan was always sort of there in the background…someone to keep track of, chat with before classes, and generally root for as we slogged through ages 14-18.

I pick 18 as a cutoff because that’s the last time I saw Ryan. The night of our high school graduation, in fact. We headed off to different universities and I haven’t spoken to or seen him since. I have, however, thought of him occasionally in the intervening years, to the point where if I ran into an old high school friend who might know of his whereabouts, I asked about him. Non-stalker, “Oh, hey, any idea how Ryan’s doing?” kind of thing.

Years pass. It’s now 2002 and my best friend from home, Corinna F., comes to DC for a visit. Late one night (after much frivolity at the Evening Star café. Whiskey sours—you do the math) we come back to my house and get to talking about Old Times. At which point I bring up people I’ve lost track of and would like to catch up with. Ryan is mentioned, and we get the brilliant idea to Google him. Which I do, and come up with a work email address. WHICH I THEN WRITE TO. I mentioned the whiskey sours, right? Anyway, I never get an answer and figure he either isn’t at that address anymore or doesn’t want to talk to me. More years pass.

Well, a year and a half. This time it’s me who’s visiting Corinna. I’m in the Oakland airport, just having checked in for my flight (shout out to Jet Blue—effing awesome airline), and I hear “ANNE DOSS!” I turn, and it’s Sam H. yet another HHS alum, who crazily enough had also been out visiting old hometown friends that same weekend. Amazingly we were booked on the same flight home, and took the opportunity to catch up. In the course of that convo I discover that Sam and Ryan became great friends after high school (having been only acquaintances, friend-of-a-friend types in school), do all kinds of fun social things together, and that, in short, Ryan is alive and well, and living not too far from where we grew up. Excellent! Good to know. Tell him I said hello. (PS, in the interests of full disclosure I should mention that I did tell Sam about the crush I had had on Ryan, in an offhand “Oh my gosh I used to love that guy in 7th grade” way. It was FIFTEEN years ago. I thought I could safely mention it without repercussions. Silly me.)

Flash forward to last week. I now need to introduce just one more character: Naila A. ALSO an HHS alum, she lives in the same small city that Ryan does. Naila is also a very good, old friend of Corinna’s. So much so that at some point in the past Corinna said something about me, and Ryan, and the long-ago crush. And me running into Sam. And the fact that Sam and Ryan are now friends. Everybody with me so far? So Naila, living in the same place as Ryan and brimming with knowledge that I know and was at some point in the past twitterpated with Ryan, runs into said fella at a St. Patrick’s Day shindig. They chat briefly (drunkenly, btw. It was St. Patty’s! To be expected, of course). In searching for topics of conversation, Naila asks Ryan if he remembers Corinna. Yes, he does, how is she? And did he know that Corinna and Anne are good friends? Yes, he guesses he did. And did he know that ANNE DOSS IS TRYING TO GET IN TOUCH WITH HIM? What…the….F***?!?!?? Where did that come from?

The best part though, is not that I was characterized as being on a decades-long search for him. The best part was his response: “Yeah, I have her email. I should write her.” Oh, holy Jesus. 1. Where did he get my email address?? Did the long ago Drunken Email of ’02 get through to him after all? Or did Sam maybe pass on my cyber digits? 2. “I should write her” is the email equivalent of “We should get together.” Oft stated, never done. If he is in possession of said address, and hasn’t used it thus far, I’m thinking that’s it’s own answer right there. 3. They were drunk. He may remember none of this (Please, Jeebus, at the very least let him forget “She’s trying to get in touch with you.”)

So, bottom line is, once I loved a boy. When I was 12. Two or three times in the intervening 16 years I’ve asked mutual acquaintances about him. This has metastasized into those three people conveying a general impression to Ryan that I am stalking him. No wonder he hasn’t used my email address. Would you if Anne Doss was trying to get in touch with you?