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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Unsevering Old Ties

The internet is a strange thing.

Yesterday I had a chat with David ‘Treppenwitz’ Bogner. We’ve had a lot to say to each other recently, which I find interesting, because we hadn’t been in contact for 14 years. In fact, I think the last time I spoke with him was at that photo shoot that he so graciously posted, and the truth is, I’m not even sure if I spoke to him then. That shoot was one of the last things I did as an official member of Shlock Rock, and as an official New Yorker. A few months after that session, I packed up my family and moved into self-imposed exile in Wisconsin. And I haven’t spoken to any of my Yeshiva University friends since then.

I suppose there were many reasons for not staying in touch with my old friends. We had less and less in common. Even at that point, I was one of the few who was married with kids. I figured, trying to stay in contact with my New York buddies would be a) expensive and b) pointless. So I lost touch. It was several years before I returned to NY for a visit, and by then, I didn’t even know how to contact most of them. My trips home have been brief hit-and-run missions. I see my folks, then head back. I’m not sure what I would do or say if I came across any of the guys I used to waste so much time with in college.

It’s easy enough to be isolated and introverted when you are a thousand miles away from your old life. And I do look at it as my old life. I’m different in many ways than the boy, the adolescent, and the young man who grew up in Queens. I’m less naïve, less trusting, more jaded, more tired, less interested in making or nurturing new friends. Uninterested in hearing about other people’s kids or jobs or vacations. I’ve become an island.

Yes, the internet is a strange thing. Within a few months of opening this blog, I came in contact with many old friends. People I hadn’t thought about or remembered were suddenly in touch with me on a daily basis. I began to retrieve memories from the most remote sources. Memories are like shoes. You get comfortable with a few, and then you find yourself using them over and over. And then one day you realize you have a closet full of old ones that you haven’t tried in a while. There may be good reasons for not trying some of those old ones on, but occasionally you find one that makes you wonder where it was all this time.

Fudge’s initiation at YU is stirring up some of those old memories for me. Many are good. Mrs. B. reminded me that she spent her first New York Shabbos down at Stern, and that Trep was at our table. Whoosh! The memory is back. At that same table was a girl with whom we had not spoken or thought about in many years. In a bizarre coincidence, she called Mrs. B. on Friday and spent close to an hour on the phone with her discussing a potential move to Milwaukee. Right now I'm trying hard to remember who else was at that table so I can expect the call.

So as I begin to emerge from this cocoon in which I've spent the last decade and a half, I'm starting to reconnect not only to old friends, but to parts of me that I had lost somewhere in that old shoe-closet. I hope they don't stink too much.

25 comments:

Ayelet said...

>I’ve become an island.

Oh, man. One of my favorite S&G songs: "I am a rock, I am an island". Nothing like it when I'm in that mood.

Mirty said...

Wow. If you guys ever went over to the Columbia Hillel for Shabbos, maybe you sat at a table with me too. But then again, that might have required time travel, as I suspect I'm several years older than you. :(

Mirty said...

Y'all are 30-somethings, right?

tuesdaywishes said...

Was I there that Shabbat? Or was it the year before I got there? And who is thinking about moving to Milwaukee?

PsychoToddler said...

Ayelet- a rock feels no pain. And an island never cries.

Mirty- Geez, how long have you been in Texas??

We're working our way out of our thirties. And we did spend some time in the Columbia Bayit, and at JTS too.

Tuesday- That was the year you were there, wasn't it? When Mrs. B. was at NYU?

Re: milwaukee: I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.

Stacey said...

"Memories are like shoes. You get comfortable with a few, and then you find yourself using them over and over."

I loved this analogy. It is so accurate.

How awesome that you and Trep got to reconnect and even chat yesterday.

In keeping with the S & G theme here:

Old friends,
Old friends
Sat on their park bench
Like bookends.
A newspaper blown though the grass
Falls on the round toes
Of the high shoes
Of the old friends.

"Old F

parcequilfaut said...

I've had that experience, and I'm still relatively young....ran into my Spanish teacher from junior college in my hometown yesterday. He had had a stroke, and suddenly I felt really old.

Memories will do that to ya, I guess.

Doctor Bean said...

Maybe I can convince y'all to move to LA. Or maybe Trep will pick out a couple of houses in Efrat for us...

Just dreamin' in both cases. But it would be nice.

Sweettooth120 said...

This is a very sweet post. Thanks for sharing.

And I agree with Stacey...love the analogy. Though I find those old pair of shoes are worn over and over again each time my husband's family gets together (uh oh, I hope he doesn't read this...;)

treppenwitz said...

Personally, I think that for most of us these memories are things we keep 'in our pantry with our cupcakes'. In other words, they are treats we allow ourselves once in a while... but a daily diet of them probably wouldn't be healthy.

It was wonderful reconnecting with Psychotoddler via the magic of IM and having the opportunity to catch up a bit about life and family. I sincerely hope that we get to do it again... and that he and his family will come to visit when they take a vacation to Israel.

But if he were to buy a house in my neighborhood in Efrat (as Doctor Bean suggests), we would have to create a a new basis for our relationship... an entirely new friendship, because it is no healthier to live in the past than it is to subsist entirely on cupcakes.

PsychoToddler said...

mmm...cupcakes....

Stacey said...

Mmmm, I could live on cupcakes. Hostess. Chocolate. Cream-filled centers. Heaven.

Stacey said...

P.S. I saw S & G in Dallas last year. They were fabulous. It was an awesome concert. The Everly Brothers were there, too. They were both fat and wearing rugs, but sounded GREAT!

fudge said...

cream filled.

you see, i think trep is right, and perhaps that's what frightened me so much about shabbos at grandma's. young man indeed. that whole house is practically haunted by you as a young man, and frankly, that weirds me out because it isn't you, and i really thought i knew you in some respects.

although i suppose the chinese disproves that.

PsychoToddler said...

Japanese!! JAPANESE!!

Essie said...

Loved this post...brought a smile to my face; because, as they say "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold." As usualy, I also agree with treppenwitz. I had an old friend move to my city, but at the time she moved, we had nothing in common and we now have hardly anything to do with each other. We are at completely different places in our lives, although 10 years ago we were as close as can be.

PsychoToddler said...

One of the reasons I found it very easy to slip back into a friendship with David was that we actually do have something in common now:

Blogging.

I wish some of my old friends were blogging too.

Jack's Shack said...

Doc Bean,

We need houses in both places. If you are going to dream might as well dream big.

ball-and-chain said...

I think the post is kinda sad. Dr. Bean and I have made an effort to keep in touch with old friends throughout the years, despite the fact that some have married and had children and some haven't. Although it is probably easier for us since most of our friends still live in California. It is great fun to see these people, even occasionally and talk about the past and the future.

ball-and-chain said...

BTW we are all too young to have listened to Simon and Garfunkel. I sure didn't

dilbert said...

great post, apu(as per usual). I just got back from a visit to my old college neighborhood and it was nice but a bit weird to visit with my old college friends. Like most guys(I think), my communication with my college friends is usually limited to calls or emails on significant occassions like birth of children, bat mitzvas, and sadly, death of parents(thankfully not mine). With some of my friends it was easy to take up the conversation as if 21 years had not passed, and with some it was kind of strained and we didn't have much in common any more. Not that we didn't like each other, but just weren't on the same wavelength. It would be hard to move back... you really cant go home again, it just isn't the same and you cant recreate it, even if you want.

PsychoToddler said...

I wonder if it would be different if I still lived in NY. I suspect not. I think I'm just using the distance as an excuse for my usual anti-social behavior.

Mrs. Balabusta is still very friendly with her 2 best friends from kindergarten. In fact, we just attended the pidyon haben of one at the house of the other.

Me? I had a very close friend in NY that I have tried to contact on recent trips, but since he's not online, I've more or less given up on him.

Fortunately, Dr. Bean reminds me of him, so I think I'm just going to pretend he's my old roommate.

Ezzie said...

Although I guess I'm relatively young compared to y'all... Treppenwitz is partly correct: Some friends, such as a couple really close friends who moved to Israel, we could not see each other for a couple of years and pick right back up where we left off.
Others, you do need to re-establish that connection, and create a somewhat 'new' relationship - though the old memories are always there.
As for the New York aspect... it's possibly the only true thing I will miss about NY when we iyH get the heck out of here (about a year away!! we hope!!) - almost all of our friends are now here. Probably my four closest friends from my Cleveland childhood all live within a 3-minute walk from me; 3/4 of my WITS class across the street or within 2 blocks; and of course [almost] all my Lander friends down the block. We were able to make a last-second surprise birthday party for my wife, and 30 people still showed up on a late Motzei Shabbos (and I only invited the ones who knew her pretty well).
It's New York's only advantage: But I think it diminishes the further you are from college, etc. - if anything, it might detract from friendships, because you're so close, but don't visit. Sorry for the rambling... just a thought!

PsychoToddler said...

The only thing I miss about NY is the kosher food.

Vos Iz Nies said...

and whats the name of the other type of food