Time Travel on Facebook

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I’ve written before about my aversion to some social media. Besides the conspicuous consumption of time, Facebook is how I found out that my best friend from 5th grade had lost the use of both her legs and arms in a car accident. Which led me to a search where I found out that another classmate and her brother were both dead in their early 40s. It was jarring and traumatic. These faces, frozen in my mind’s eye, were young and healthy and living happy lives in some far off world. Anything beyond that failed to reach my imagination.

When I was in my teens, we moved to a house, town and school far away from where I’d grown up. It was, in reality, only about 40 miles away, but rural miles. No public transportation or extra family car or cell phone plans to keep in touch with old friends. We wrote letters. It seems quaint now, as if we’d moved by covered wagon.

The year before the move, on a parental whim, I had been pulled from the public school where I’d been since Kindergarten and plopped into a church school, where, as a girl, I was not allowed to wear pants with pockets. The culture shock led to a series of uncharacteristic pranks and mild hooliganism, including pouring unholy amounts of pepper into the school’s soup and some minor brawling during flag football. It was the same year in which the pastor of the church got caught embezzling and a teacher at the school molested my best friend. The following summer, we moved.

The student population at the new school was drawn from four rural towns and still my eighth grade class only had some 50 students. I settled in awkwardly, made friends at the fringes and envied the popular kids. With a deteriorating home situation, I got involved in everything: track, editor of the school paper, speech, plays, musicals, band, choir. I felt like a constant outsider, but pictures of my unwieldy teenage self are sprinkled liberally about yearbooks.

I worked, bought a car, started to drink, got high a few times, and went to frat parties in the nearest college town. Wherever I was, I felt, as so many teenagers do, that I did not belong. I had two best friends, one who was a parent’s dream and another, two steps from rehab and/or juvie. The three of us didn’t hang out together. I led distinctly separate lives. One had me competing in band and speech contests, the other got me acquainted with the police in two cities.

canstockphoto23898647At home, being tuned into every vibration of other people’s moods was self-preservation. It could mean the difference between being screamed at and hit or currying favor at just the right moment so that I could hang out with a friend. Sometimes it meant determining whether or not I would sleep in my bed or if the five of us, my mom, two brothers and sister would be staying in a dingy hotel room that night.

Living on eggshells and developing survival empathy made me weird. Other people became cults of personality in my head. I watched and listened keenly to what they liked and didn’t like, who their crush of the week was, what they wore and how they walked. I wanted to be them, but they seemed like these marvelous, otherworldly creatures to me – ethereal and unreachable. I was small.

It’s a particular kind of body schema to look out at the world, seeing and admiring other humans as big and important and full of life. It took me well into my late twenties to gain perspective in that rear view mirror, and years of living alone to step into my own life and take up space.

Which brings me to the other people. There were two friends. I have a picture of them together in front of the place where we all worked during the summer. They’re pretty girls with stylish hair and clothes I could never afford. Clear skin, beautiful eyes, casual in their bodies, bodies that had been admired and felt up by boys on whom I had revolving crushes. In my eyes, they had and were everything.

Our junior year, they were driving home from a game on one of those winding rural highways, cut into the earth, the pavement laid out four inches higher than the gravel. The driver over-adjusted when the tire slipped off the edge of the road. The car flipped and rolled, sending the two girls through the windshield. One of them died.

Teenagers grieve loudly and visibly or they shutter themselves in dark corners and write bad poetry. We mourned that whole year, gossiping in righteous indignation when the dead girl’s boyfriend began to date someone new. By the next year, life had found a semblance of normal. The friend who lived was still enviable, made more alluring by her survival of a tragic accident.

In a story of fiction, she’d go on to live a happy life, a joyful existence in honor of her friend, never forgotten. In real life, she was dead at 41 from cancer, leaving behind several children. A few years later, her older brother, the quarterback with a quiet smile and gentle demeanor, was crushed to death by industrial equipment.

canstockphoto14061639If I ever needed a reason to read and write stories, it is this: they explode the moments, magnify the minutiae and put some meat on the bones of our lives. Between youth and endings, tragic or not, we are more than our milestones, births, marriages, deaths. These lives, so full of promise, take up space. To see only the milestones and the end of their story has all the depth of a deflated balloon. I missed all the meaning in the middle and it feels like cheap voyeurism.

225 Comments on “Time Travel on Facebook

  1. Liked the sprawling pace of this Michelle. Made me think of figures from my own past, from high school, who ended up like this. Nice post. – Bill

    Liked by 3 people

  2. she’d go on to live a happy life, a joyful existence in honor of her friend

    When you read “and they lived happily ever after”, your know you have come to the end of the story.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Is that true? Some of my favorite lit is Children’s lit. Heavy stories; light-ish (ish) endings: Where the Lilies Bloom, Jacob Have I Loved, The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler… For true stories, gimmee Wilma Rudolph (a childhood hero). None-a this “Wail me a sad song” stuff. I read sad, but I re-read and retain happy. Or I would have sucked a tailpipe long ago. Surely there are others like me (others who were comfortable missing out on the pleasures of Terms of Endearment…).

    Your post: You can’t write light, or fluff, or a throwaway piece, Michelle. You write too well and with depth even when not consciously planning.

    So, net sum: Life is for living. May as well do that.

    Yup.

    Liked by 3 people

    • No question about that, but sometimes reality is so much worse than I imagined. And maybe that’s where writers come in – to give shape and form and reason to that which seems so pointless.

      I’ve been straddling fiction and reality a bit much with writing lately. Let’s just say my characters are in the shit right now and I really wish they weren’t. And I’ve been pondering my discomfort with putting people through misery for the sake of a story and it brought to mind my experience with Facebook and learning the tragic endings to classmates’ lives. I had a point in there somewhere, but even this comment is a runaway train. The Little Engine that Couldn’t Shut Up.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sorry–I laughed. I’m Aspie, and self-conscious, and egocentric, blahdedy-blahdedy-blah– I NEVER know wither I wander or when to stop. (Said she of the 1800+ word posts with addendums to addendums : )

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m self-conscious as well, but also feel like brevity is some sort of badge of honor. This does not serve me well as a writer methinks! When I get too wordy, I feel like falling over myself apologizing, which is a little silly.

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      • The harsh reality of life is that life is going to be harsh. Shiz happens to us all. It has a thousand different colors, scents, and flavors, but we all have to confront life’s harshness’.

        If it all went well for us all, or even a majority of us… we wouldn’t be able to accept it (as evidenced by the Matrix… what? why can’t that be used as life’s canonized truth?).

        But it’s actually a good thing that we have harshness to overcome. It sucks to go through those things, don’t get me wrong. But they make life vastly more worth living and worth reading / writing about.

        How did John handle growing up with no adversity? Really? No way?! I hope I can learn to handle perfection in the same way! -.-

        How did John manage to make the most of life after being raised by an abusive mother and an absent father? *stays quiet and genuinely listens attentively* Much more interesting.

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        • I don’t question that life is a mixed bag, but maybe what you’re saying makes my point. Instead of just knowing facts about people, there’s so much more to them – their struggles, triumphs and losses. Those are the things that imbue our lives with meaning.
          Social media has a tendency to boil things down to sound bytes – ones that don’t necessarily convey truth as much as trivia. I absolutely agree that having a life of no adversity would be a boring read.

          Thanks for taking the time to read this post and add thoughtful commentary!

          Like

    • Thanks, Helen. It was a little more meandering for me, but it’s that time of year. I tend not to spend much time looking back, but when I start writing about the past, so many of these stories pop into my head.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good grief, if you can criticize yourself so pitilessly for being what you deem messy and wordy, I can’t see how you’ve ever gotten through reading a single post of mine without having a massive apoplectic episode and imploding! You are a beacon of reason, for me. Not too much, not too little, and never boring.

    This particular topic struck home, as well. I had a similar experience of, in my case, getting a long distance update from a high school classmate whom I knew for many school years, but always ‘lightly’ and not as constant companions. She and a couple of her closer friends hunted up a whole bunch of us on Facebook around the time of one of the bigger milestone reunions, and then followed up with some fill-in-the-blanks bits, including a roll-call of the deceased from our ranks, for those of us who didn’t attend. I was surprised at a number of those deaths, too, most especially those of two of my slightly closer personal connexions who had been truly best friends with each other and apparently died of very different causes within a year or two of each other as well. Sad, yet somehow fitting. But from the distance of both miles and time, a little surreal as well.

    Time travel indeed.

    Kathryn

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Kathryn, for sharing your own experiences. Surreal is a good word to describe how it feels to realize that the people I assumed would be leading happy lives somewhere had them unceremoniously cut short. It’s all facts without the story or essence of who they were.

      As for wordiness, part of my chagrin is related to the format. I try to be aware of how long a post runs out of consideration for readers, but this one just kept on going…and I did cut some out!

      Like

    • Thanks, Ross. It’s an oddball piece and the longest post that I’ve written on this blog, but I’m already feeling the influence of James Joyce. Why use 10 words when you can stream-of-consciousness write your way into 100?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on divinitive and commented:
    I am re-blogging this to emphasize a point that we need to look at life more from how we live every moment rather than what will happen in future or what happened in the past.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I feel rather touched, reality is so different from fiction and it is particularly sad when we hear of the sad detour the lives of acquaintance follow. despite your protest about your write-up I think it is wonderful and quite visual

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for sharing your response. I’ve been experimenting a bit with writing, so it was a surprise when this particular post was tagged. Thinking about these stories has helped me write fiction, when it seems too easy to over-dramatize, but life is dramatic.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. True, we don’t learn of the middle story up to the end with social media’s convenience. I learned of another blogger who commented/visited my blog and vice versa. I learned a yr. later she committed suicide. So another twist on human face of social media: not knowing the backstory.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think, though, we often meet people in real life of whom we don’t know the back story. Either online or in person, getting to what matters to us and to them takes time. Sometimes social media makes it very easy to gloss over details, take things out of context, miss entire pieces to the puzzle. I think, too that it’s easier for us to “manage the message”, so we only show what we want others to know.
      Thanks for the thoughtful comment and taking the time to read the post!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Let’s see…you leave your first comment at my place and less than 24-hours later you’re Fresh Pressed. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.

    Stories like this are one of the plethora of reasons why I am completely freaked out by Facebook and refuse to participate. I’d start trolling around to see how my old girlfriends held up. Who needs that noise? And who needs to know about all this sadness you’ve mined?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Despite the timing (they notified me over a week ago), I’m going to give the credit to you, so that droves of people can weigh in on whether or not you’re a weirdo. I read the comments on your post – who knew you could drive such a discussion in regards to figurines?

      As for Facebook, I finally closed my account. There were just too many stops, in the words of one of my favorite comedians, Maria Bamford, on “my burning bridges tour” to want to spend much time looking back or reconnect with people I hadn’t stayed connected with for a reason.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It seems as if you were writing this for a whole chunk of us. It brought back those lost to accidents, the presence of molesting and alcoholic teachers who were somehow tolerated as part of the landscape, the thoughts about who was popular and who wasn’t. I enjoyed your writing on Facebook, which somehow is now all linked up to memories of high school. Now if we want to know, we don’t need a reunion, just google. Thanks for the juicy writing on teenagers. It’s a tricky subject.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thinking about teenagers makes me want to go back and read “Catcher in the Rye”. It’s funny that I can likely encapsulate my teenage experiences more than many experiences as an adult. It’s such a formative time for us all. I think, too the landscape has changed drastically in regards to some adult behaviors that were tolerated or merely gossiped about in the past.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Love the line “To see only the milestones and the end of their story has all the depth of a deflated balloon.” I couldn’t agree more. We get wrapped up with the “headlines” we forget their impact and their stories. Thanks for the post! A great reminder for reflection.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes, everything seems to be headlines and bullet points when it comes to getting information, especially online. There was so much that I did not know about the middle of these people’s lives, that just knowing the ending seems empty.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      Liked by 2 people

      • How much do we exist in the real world, at the kitchen table of our life – and how much do we only exist in screen, a manipulated version of our true selves

        Like

        • After being online for awhile, I find that when I “re-enter” the real world, I get the sensation like you get when getting off roller skates (I know, totally old school). Everything is just a little bit off-kilter. That’s when I know that I need to get back to living in the physical world, where I’d rather live the majority of my life. You?

          Like

        • I prefer the real world as well … And I totally get the roller skate reference ! But I admit that writing online and anonymously has given richness to my inner existence – one I have been ( and continue to) hide from those around me I’ve enjoyed having an outlet for the thoughts I have trouble sharing in person with other people. But doing so also means that sometimes I cannot be challenged in my thinking – that it’s just self indulgent navel gazing admired by other souls and not necessarily a completely healthy exercise. Ooooh, maybe it’s time for a therapy session or two !!

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  11. Wow this is beautifully written. I keep deleting other things to say here but what they come down to is that this made me quite sad to read, your use of language and way with words is stunning, and that this is a good example of the other ways that content on the internet can touch you and make you feel connection as much as it often dilutes our connections to others too. If that long-ass sentence makes any sense at all.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your kind words about the post. It surprised me a bit, that a ramble through memory lane would land me on the idea of why it’s important to tell stories, fictional or otherwise. Without them, so much of life loses meaning, especially when it’s online or at a distance. Your long ass sentence made sense. Thanks for taking the time to write it!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Wonderful post, Michelle. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. So well deserved. It’s such a poignant look at your past, friendship, school days, and then social media. I measure a lot of things in my life as before social media and after social media (a pre and a post). I do the same with digital cameras and the Internet. When I think about the past, it seems long ago, but then it isn’t. I haven’t had this experience and I hope that I don’t, but many of the people in my past have remained so, past. Do you hope to be more in touch now?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Amy. The real irony is that this experience, learning the stories of some of my classmates, did not encourage me to be more in touch with people from the past. Instead, I feel the need to be more engaged with the people who are now in my life. I don’t want to have to Google to find out what happens to them down the road.
      The few times that I have reached out to people from years ago, I found it to be either depressing or it began to feel like an awkward information-gathering session, because I knew two seconds after engaging that I wished I hadn’t.
      Thanks for the Congrats!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow I am so moved by your words. Life is so much more than the few jotted points we tend to summarize and spew out at funerals or wakes. You have a strong mind to have lived so many sides of life and experienced so many different people. The last paragraph really moved me, thanks for your words

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  14. Wow… I am awed by your story, and though my situation does differ slightly – I comprehend the feelings and thoughts you went through, even the empathy for survival. Thank you for posting this. Though words are few, I cannot describe to you what it felt like to read this. It was quite the experience. You are a lovely writer and I look forward to reading more of your work!

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  15. Your piece provided an excellent visual into your past. We are more than our milestones is a statement we should all embrace. We are so much more than societal labels and identifiers. Thanks for the reminder!

    Liked by 3 people

    • And that’s really what social media can do at times – take shortcuts across the human experience. This is one of the things I like about blogging or longer form writing online – it can fill in those blanks and fill out our experiences. Thanks for commenting!

      Like

      • Thank you, for your kind response. I tried to click the like button and that did not work this morning. In Texas when it gets cold everything stops working.

        Like

        • We have the opposite experience here in Minnesota – everything works best when it’s brain-numbing cold. Some people think it’s resiliency. I think it’s belligerence, like there’s something we’re trying to prove!

          Like

  16. This was incredibly well written and I found that I lost myself in the story. Expecting a rant on social media, which I am also not fond of, it was instead almost of a trip down the memory lane.
    Thank you for sharing this. I have so many stories and I wish I could share them as well as you do.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much – having a reader get lost in the story is high praise. I have done one or two rants (although I’m a very mild ranter) regarding social media in regards to what works for me. Time-wise and energy-wise, I just don’t have the heart for it. Blogging works for me better just in terms of longer form writing, interaction, etc. I know a lot of people can effectively juggle it all, but I’m not one of them.
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this post!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Couldn’t agree more with you!
        I have my FB account, but don’t update or read anything any more, and then one for my blog that updates automatically. That’s enough for me.
        FB is sort of a strange animal. Reading blogs, like yours, is a much better way to spend time!

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Thanks for writing this, I found myself lost in the story and felt a reminder of how precious life is, especially when you do not know what path life will take you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I used to think that it was the writer in me that wanted to know how other people’s stories ended, but having this experience has definitely changed my mind. Focusing on the here and now seems like a better mental health practice. Thanks for commenting!

      Like

  18. Your tale of rural America and expressive writing truly paints a sad but vibrant picture. I felt involved as if I were at the scene. Thank you for sharing your story of truth.

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  19. Such a beautiful post. Loved the story…it was really awesome. Thanks for posting it. Enjoyed reading that.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Beautifully writen michelle.

    Life has its ups and down and not many are lucky or strong enough to live past the downs of life.

    This is a very insightful piece, thank you so much for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I called my best friend Sue yesterday to share a story. My sister and I had that very day, driven by our childhood home on Long Island. We had attended a wake in a nearby town and decided to take a detour through our old “hood” on our ride back to New England. We grew up in a charmed place filled with wonderful memories of my youth. I am forever grateful to my parents for this privilege. Sue too had grown up in this town. I had met her in the 7th grade and our friendship has endured over thirty seven years. The town has changed as all things do with the passage of time yet when we slowed to a stop in front of our old Tudor home on that bone chilling day, for me, time stood still. Although my parents are both gone, seeing that house where I had lived for over thirty years, brought me immense comfort. The only thing the new owners had changed was the color of our front door (ours a vivid turquoise theirs brown). I snapped a picture of my old house and posted it to that very night to Facebook in a group called “I Grew Up In Manhasset.” I wrote a little caption next to the photo saying something like “nothing like a visit to your old home town to warm the spirit on a bitter day!” The feedback or “likes” received were tremendous compared to anything else I ever posted. Everyone, it seemed to me who commented on my photo, too were nostalgic for the old days long gone, sans a photograph. When I described this whole scenario to Sue, she responded dryly “Face Book is for bored housewives.” Sue is not a nostalgic person by nature and lives in the now. I realized that one person’s fond memories may be another’s bane. I am not a serial poster on FB. Rather, I enjoy it for the emotional connections made like when I reconnected with my first grade friend who quoted in her response a little song our teacher always sang (I’m Leaving On A Jet Plane) that I hadn’t thought about in over forty years! The memories FB evokes whether in my case elating or in yours harrowing are sobering and unique and strangely addictive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right – people differ in how they regard the past. I’m a bridge-burning, non-nostalgic person. It depends on the past and the person. My past, like many people’s, was a rocky road, so a romp down that lane is not particularly joyful.

      It also depends on how someone views the present. Wherever I’m at, I generally assume it’s better than where I was because really, it likely is. The older I get, the more I value the present. I’ve met people that can tell you, in relentless detail, about their childhoods and yet are totally oblivious to the moments in front of them.

      Thank you for taking the time to share your experience and perspective – it’s greatly appreciated!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Great points about discovering things from your past friends and acquaintances through Facebook. I went to grammar school with an individual whom I wasn’t particularly friends but was “Facebook friends” with (we all know how that goes!) It wasn’t until my FB Newsfeed exploded with other people’s posts to him that I found out he had sadly taken his life at just 29 years old. Even though I wasn’t close to him, the discovery was “jarring” as you put it so well. He had seemed like such a happy and charismatic young man, but since I missed that gap of not having seen him in so many years, I also missed how his depression developed and eventually defeated him. So sad and so unexpected.That’s the dark side of social media that is rarely spoken about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d tried Facebook several times, tired of it quickly, deleted the account. The last round, though, was tough. There was either excessive nothingness or big drama and I felt heartbroken when I learned about some of my classmates. I likely won’t do it again until I need to promote a book (supposedly you just have to).
      It was a reminder, though, to pay attention and value the people you’re connected to in the present. Thanks for the thoughtful comment and sharing your experience.

      Like

  23. Can I say… Damn! Awesome post and beautiful insight. It it’s wonderful to share life experiences. I wonder, do you think that social media can show those forgotten moments?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! You bring up a good question – can social media fill in the blanks? I think it can absolutely serve as a bridge in relationships – like long distant relatives who can see pictures online and exchange messages.
      For me, it ended up just being a fact finding event and not a search for renewing friendships. Perhaps it is the intent that determines what role social media can fill in making connections.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I find that to be true. But unlike face to face social dynamics we have the problem of having no examples or tutorials that feel intuitive or explain the implications of our digital footprints. I think intention and education in this case are equally important.

        Like

  24. I absolutely loved this piece…you found the right words. Thank you for thinking so deeply about something so easy to just click past, if that makes any sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve thought about that, John, but I’m pretty resistant to the idea. Plus, a lot more people would have to shuffle off this mortal coil before I could write about them! Hopefully, I can translate some of this essay writing to fiction, but I know at this point, I need A LOT of practice. Thanks for stopping by – it’s good to hear from you.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Great blog – thank you for sharing, I enjoyed this article very much. I left the town I grew up when I was 20 – visited a few times, but from age 25 onwards barely given it a thought – everything that was, everyone I knew – all frozen in time – school friends, neighbours, local shop keepers – I probably wouldn’t recognise if they walked past me today… in my mind and in my memory they remain as they were 30+ years ago… Have I looked for them on Facebook? no, I always feel there’s a reason we didn’t keep in touch… life moves on. If I haven’t spoken to them for over 30 years, why start now? Interesting to read your reflections and thoughts… Thank you.
    Lizzy (‘Crystal Clear’ blog)

    Liked by 2 people

    • “Frozen in time” is a good phrase for it. Maybe nostalgia grows as one gets older, but I haven’t yet found that to be the case. The other problem with being frozen in one’s memory, is that most of us don’t improve with age, so it’s a shock to see them. Then you realize the same thing likely happened to you. I went to one high school reunion early on and found the whole thing depressing.

      Thanks for taking the time to read the post and for sharing your perspective!

      Liked by 1 person

  26. I myself dream of being a writer at some point. I’ve been trying to enhance my literary skill by reading what others have to offer. Of course the normal novels, stephen king, joe hill, phillip k. Dick, but i’ve been looking for a better way to describe scenery and development in story line.

    What am i getting at? Hopefully not some self-proclaimed blog that im writing, is probably what your thinking. No. I’ve no interest in cramming my concepts down anyones throat. Truth is, im still pretty self-conscious about my own work.

    What i am getting at is, the power of your own literary cooking.

    Upon stumbling upon this website, I’ve decided to publish my own projects. I had used several before, but none have i ever trusted enough. With this site i feel that trust. I won’t Be putting my major work here, just short stories i’ve come up with, fantasy and sci-fi.

    I realized that i can still use some work, but my writing is getting much better! So i decided to finger through some other people’s work. See what can inspire me.

    I have come across a few, that describe their favourite reads. So i’ve actually decided to pick those books up and read. Empire of time is among one.

    I had seen this post a few times, but upon seeing facebook i ignored it. Im not a huge fan of this social media, and feel that it is a slap in the face to our privacy and a bridge to the youth for bullying and eliminating social skills we learn from going outside and ‘living’.

    Although i am only 26, even i remember a time when i would slip into my rain boots, run outside after a fresh rain, the air still crisp with the scent of the clouds tears.

    I would play outside with kids i barley knew and friends i had grown up with all the same. A time when computers played poorly rendered computer games, like Diablo 1, but seemed to be the top of the line graphics! When google wasn’t a search engine but a funny word used in scrabble, in hopes that your opponent didn’t challenge your word!

    Since i graduated highschool, facebook wasn’t just a term used for geeky nerds like me who always had their face in a book. Instead it became the new way to meet people and talk to others!

    I had moved from Texas, to Nova Scotia around this time. So my family and i needed a better way to communicate. At this time facebook was a private invite website for university students. I had been given an invite from a friend who went to Dalhousie. Later it had blossomed from a small tree sprout with minimum invites, to a massive sturdy oak tree that had planted its roots and taken over the world!

    Still, what am i getting at? Well upon looking for a fresh story to read i saw this for the 5th maybe 6th time. Finally letting go of my prejudice. I had to take a look.

    Although, from the sounds of it, you lived in a golden age in which life was as simple as it was complicated. Reading this post moved me. I felt as if those memories had become my own, the pictures of your friends replaced with my own.

    So well written and the way you describe your past and your present. How life was, is, and isn’t. Thank you for such a powerful post, and i can’t wait to read more. Hopefully one day i can obtain that level of literary professionalism.

    Great work Michelle and i’m, rooting for you, hahaha!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. I will say that the one thing that really improves writing is….writing. Reading has its limitations, but writing will press you forward. I often have to remind myself of this when I get a little too logical – writing is the act that gets you there.

      Best wishes to you on your journey and thank you for taking the time (and chance) to read and comment!

      Like

  27. Michelle, so glad you flagged this one again — I missed it as I have been on and off with blogging (you know, that thing called life that gets in the way of our screens sometimes (thank goodness, eh?!)) — CONGRATS and so well-deserved! I always enjoy your well-written and thoughtful posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Kat. Life’s always getting in the way like that, right? I’ve been ghost reading your blog – never sure I want to see those pictures of cold beauty while wishing for spring. Soon, soon, the cardinals tell me so.

      Thanks for the congrats and taking the time to read this ramble. Stay warm!

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Look at you all Freshly Pressed – congratulations!

    So true, and so well written. Facebook makes the world small in a way which can be gratifying, but can also be incredibly jarring. A Facebook friend from high school just posted a picture of a former teacher of ours she met up with on vacation. The last time I saw this woman she was a pretty, young nun. Now she’s an old lady (says the almost-old lady.) I have no idea what happened to her in between – is she still a nun? Married? Children? Exotic dancer?

    It’s surreal how a life can be compressed into 2 pictures – one mental, one on Facebook.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of course, Peg, you just cooked my entire post down to one line: “It’s surreal how a life can be compressed into 2 pictures – one mental, one on Facebook.”

      Thanks for the Congrats!

      Like

    • I don’t know if things are so different as that we, as individuals, are. I have a child in elementary school and some things never seem to change!
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Like

  29. I was enthralled in your story, thank you for sharing. I was surprised to see it on my newsfeed because I just wrote a piece yesterday on my break up with social media – in particular facebook. But as I read, I realized that was more of a jumping off place for a much bigger snapshot of your life. Thanks again for the read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have that tendency to start off with particular stories and end up with a conclusion or “big picture” that I hadn’t planned on. Perhaps that’s why I write – to make sense of things.
      I’m interested in reading your piece, so I’ve bookmarked it for reading later (I’m taking a bit of a break).
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  30. We are spying on ourselves almost all the time. Possibilities of everyday technology are exceeding our personal needs. You are right that it brings unexpected thoughts and even anxiety in some of the cases. That’s why I stopped following people who I knew at my school. I also delete all of my photos that are older than a couple of years. I don’t like to watch them again. Why? What’s the point? My life is now with whoever is present. Not some distant echo of what used to be. Death still haunts me, however, and I do imagine that it sucks so hard to die young, especially by your own hand.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Spying on ourselves” – perfect expression for all the exposure we give ourselves through social media. I’m with you on life being in the present with whomever is there. Looking back nearly always fills me with regret, sadness or anger, which makes it not a particularly enjoyable activity.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  31. You write beautifully. I found myself overwhelmed with your passion, sad as you gaze nostalgically at what could have been, and almost angry at life for what inevitably becomes. An excellent piece. Your responses to comments reveal an aggressive self-punishment. No-one need know the realities of such theatrically intense happenings but the subtleties will undoubtedly have had many wishing for more. A good story told by an excellent storyteller.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I’m not sure what you mean by aggressive self-punishment, but I do tend to have a rueful, sometimes sardonic outlook. Thanks for the kind words regarding the story.

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Your writing has such great depth and I love it’s introspective insights! But you are right, the things inbetween give us meaning, and I love sharing and hearing those stories. Thank you for this

    Liked by 1 person

  33. We here at RoughTradeBlog were pleasantly surprised with the depth of this post. And we know what you mean about writing: we often don’t know what we truly think until we have written it down.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was surprised about this post myself. I’ve read essays by writers who talk about writing being the way they process the world. I couldn’t agree more. It’s part therapy, part truth seeking, part unburdening, but in the end, I always hope that I’ve learned something.

      Thanks for taking the time to read this post and commenting!

      Like

  34. Reblogged this on gvedia and commented:
    An excellent piece on the reasons of taking a little time out to just enjoy the moment you’re in. Think of your accomplishments, enjoy the company of your loved ones, or fall asleep in the bath with some wine. Life can be cruel, it’s up to us to make the most of what we have.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. This makes me think of my own high school years. I only had a couple friends and they had so much of what I wish I could have. I was an outsider, too. I moved a few states away in 10th grade then back to my hometown in 11th grade but had to go to a different school than where I went before. It was always hard for me. I was never good at making friends and it was horrible. Thank you for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I’ve met more adults who felt like outsiders in school than those who regard those days with fondness. It’s such a tough time – bodies changing, social navigating and figuring out who we are – throw in moving around and it becomes even more difficult. We should all be wearing t-shirts that say I went to high school and all I got was an inferiority complex. Maybe that’s just me!

      Like

      • Love the t-shirt idea. It’s so true, though, sadly. High school is not what it is portrayed as on fun tv shows and movies. It changes those you thought were friends before and then it gets really confusing…

        Liked by 1 person

  36. Hey Michelle. it’s really good story after a long time i have read something which took me to my past and help me to memorize my best days ever… Thanks for posting….

    Liked by 1 person

  37. I have been trying for most of my life to write out what growing up was like for me, about feeling like the outsider, having the friends from different ends of the social spectrum and viewing everyone else as marvelous creatures. This was excellently written and so true

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Reblogged this on Integrated Expat – a British expat's ode to Nijmegen, Arnhem & the Dutch and commented:
    That feeling of believing other people have a better life than me, that they are more self-confident, know more than me, can explain themselves better, organise themselves better and have better relationships. Oh yes, that is so familiar! Your self-reflective post has inspired me to some of my own navel-staring on my blog. You also talk about your feeling of being an outsider because you moved schools a couple of times as a teenager. Something that expat teens often have to come to terms with, too.

    I’ve enjoyed hopping about your blog since finding it on Freshly Pressed. I’m sure I’ll be coming back for more.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Pingback: Being an outsider – inspired by Time Travel on Facebook | Integrated Expat – a British expat's ode to Nijmegen, Arnhem & the Dutch

  40. Reblogged this on Practice and principle and commented:
    “If I ever needed a reason to read and write stories, it is this: they explode the moments, magnify the minutiae and put some meat on the bones of our lives. Between youth and endings, tragic or not, we are more than our milestones, births, marriages, deaths.”

    Liked by 1 person

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