Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Some people I'd like to see again

Facebook, Myspace and Friends Reunited have been good ways of finding, and being found by, people from my past. I’m glad I’ve reconnected with the shadows and ghosts that I have, restoring them to life. Moreover, there is no doubt that, in the wake of these new technologies, keeping in touch with them now will be easier than it used to be. The entropic forces tending to the dissolution of ties in the face of the demands of present and future are givens. They are not going to weaken. But against these, the possibilities for holding together, in however small a way, the shape of one’s narrative as it passes through the souls that one meets, have never been stronger.

That said, there a still several people I have not rediscovered, for whatever reason, and have lost touch with entirely. People who meant a great deal to me at the time that I knew them, who impressed themselves upon me with depth and vigour and resonance; and who, if I might be frank, I ‘miss’. I won't bore you with too long an inventory, but here are three. Obviously, I’d have included Jessica but I should only see her if she wants to see me, and I suspect she may be indifferent or opposed to the idea.

I have changed their names, but they will presumably recognize themselves in the unlikely event of their reading this. I met them all in my late teens and lost touch with them in my early 20s.

Joseph Brightman: We travelled across South America together in an Encounter Overland truck in 1990. Highly ebullient and bright – he was always keen to dispatch rapier words against transcendence and have a go at Christians (including my brother, the Reverend). If he hasn’t changed, I can imagine him salivating with glee over every shard of Dawkinsana. I believe he is some kind of barrister in London now. Though I can imagine him in one of those wigs, I would still like to actually see him in one. I wonder if he still talks really fast and laughs a lot. Despite his atheism, he had an epic sense of life as something intrinsically grand, which appealed to me greatly.

Frederick Davidson: ‘Best Friend’, if that’s not too childish a term for the sixth form and for the ‘gap year’. He had a crappy Ford Fiesta which we called the ‘Tin Machine’, and which he’d unsuccessfully push to destruction point on the M11 between Kentish Town and Cambridge. He wrote me supportive, witty letters when I was in South America, which I was grateful for. At school his ability to equal or beat me at essays despite doing next to no homework baffled and infuriated me in equal measure. Beyond his flagrant acuity, I have never met anyone whom I felt had such natural existential strength, and such a powerful will. I imagine him to be absurdly rich and thriving in the City, presumably unlevelled by recent events. The last I heard he and his brother were going to buy a yacht.

Andrea Stewart: Gorgeous, fiery, red-headed maiden I met on an Outward Bound Course in the Lake District in 1989. She liked my blue eyes, which I appreciated. She liked my letters too and once said I was ‘priceless’. Nothing ‘happened’ between us, as the vacuous cliché has it. I think she may, however, have been one of those whom I alienated in my mid twenties when I suddenly exploded into my ‘write your friends impossibly long and intense letters, why don’t you’ phase. The last I knew she was getting into head hunting. I wonder what her innate zeal and brilliance is getting her up to these days.

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