Tuesday, August 18, 2020

What Ever Happened to...?

photo credit: Jerry Hoffman
I was recently commiserating with one of my salon compatriots about old friends and past companions. With our collective miles under the belt, we’ve both had many casual, close and a few profound friendships, relationships and acquaintances.

As readers of my past blogs know, I sometimes reminisce about past experiences, acquaintances, friends, and associates much to the chagrin of my better half. Sharon would say I reveal far too much personal information about myself (even though at this stage in the game, I don’t really care anymore). Despite the criticism, I find myself fascinated with the age old question of ‘what -ever happened to…’

While some of my friends won’t admit it, I do have a number who have acquiesced to ‘Facebook stalking’ and/or perusing ‘Classmates.com’ in hopes of finding old school chums, friends, associates, love interests and other assorted contacts made over the years.

My philosophy is that you leave something of yourself with everyone you come into contact with. Granted, you are a different person now than you were back then but if you have ‘history’ with someone even for a brief period of time, the connection is still there.

The categories where old acquaintances can be found are too numerous to list here. It really comes down to meaningful events in your life even if for only short periods of time. It’s different for everyone and could almost be seen as a memoir of one’s past life.

photo credit: Jerry Hoffman
One of my regrets is that almost all of those kids I hung around with through eighth grade have long since scattered to the winds of time. It would have been so fascinating to find out how their lives turned out after life in Highland Park.

I didn’t reconnect with any of my Cretin High School classmates until well after our 50th Class reunion. Back in school, I had a small cadre of friends; all of them were on the college track in school. Then there was me; preordained to go into the trades or the service. Despite my councilors advice, I chose another track for myself. A few of us reconnected after the reunion and continue to this day.

The Army had a profound effect on me although I didn’t realize it at the time. My two year enlistment was ripe with hundreds of story lines, personal antidotes and character studies. Events happened and were forgotten only to resurface years later when nudged forward by a song, comment or photograph. It was a colorful kaleidoscope of military images buried deep in my memory bank. There were Drill sergeants right out of hell, bunk mates who were anti-social, lost young men, gung-ho John Wayne types, rumblings of a far-off war, and youthful lusting for the opposite sex.

And the list could go on and on. It was only a moment in time but there were enough instances of brain-burn images I still can’t shake. Over time, some of those images have become characters in my plays and novels.

Living in Europe on two separate occasions also supplied me with lasting memories of colorful characters, sad creatures and intimate cerebral partners for late night salons.

There was my old roommate I called ‘animal,’ who only lived with me briefly but even then left a memorable impression. Tiny Bailey, another lost soul from Arizona, who escaped an alcoholic mother to seek solace in Denmark but ended up leaving for Israel instead. The Guy from Canada who lived with a local family and was treated like royalty and Maria, my pal at the Danish laundry.

Then there were closer contacts that never went very far. For some that was a good thing. For others, I wish I was still in touch.

There was Heidi, the University student, who wanted more than just friendship. I demurred and dodged the bullet on that one. John and his friend from Amsterdam who were incredibly ambitious. I would really like to know if they ‘made it’ with their dreams intact. Wendy, a pen pal from Lincolnshire, England that I sadly lost contact with.

KTCA television was still evolving and changing from educational television to public television when I began volunteering there on the crew. I was the oldest among the gang but we had one hell of a time taping television programs and learning the trade. Management, always sequestered in the panel-boarded wing of the building, was the enemy because they were all older. Then there was that attractive blond receptionist who always had a smile for me.

Those memories ended bundled up as a play entitled ‘PTV’ for which I have high hopes in the future.

My film trip to the Costa Rican jungle lasted almost a month.  My fellow travelers and I endured three weeks of heat and humidity and deadly tree-hugging snakes. They were a crazy bunch of writers, photo journalists, adventurers and those two girls who didn’t hesitate to go skinny-dipping with us.

The Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting was less than ten years old and still going through its Camelot period when I joined their Programming Department. The station was a microcosm of very talented, creative types that came in every color, aptitude and disposition. There were the elite power couples, the talented producers and directors, some stoned-out crew members and numerous artists and actors who haunted those hallowed halls in the early days.

Over time, there were a number of interesting folks who rented apartment units from me. Believe it or not, there are a number of those past tenants that I would dearly love to hear from again. They were wonderful folks to know. Most were young and beginning their respective careers.

Past Girlfriends are always a topic of curiosity for most men. This kind of inquiry could seem awkward but it doesn’t have to be. For me, each of those women were charming, interesting, and a delight to know in their own way. They had names like Diane, Joyce, Sheila, Marti, and Susan. There were others but their names are less memorable and my time spent with them more easily forgotten. With each, we had some ‘history’ and it was good.

Where there was history, there are memories. The key here is to glance at the past but not to linger there. I think its human nature to want to know about past acquaintances no matter how close or vapid they might have been. They all were, in a way, a reflection of who you were at that point in your life. A point in time that can’t be returned, replaced or replicated.

But can still hold some poignant memories nevertheless.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Memories. Some are enjoyable, others can haunt you.

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