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.