Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gone to the dark side

I have resisted the call of Facebook for quite some time. Then on Friday I received an invite email from an old friend. In fact, I considered her one of my best friends throughout high school. We lost touch in college but reconnected at our ten-year reunion. (Oh, and by the way folks, I'm coming up on 25 years since graduating from high school. It seems kind of surreal. Where did the time go?) Ever since that reunion, we have been in constant contact. If you have received a forwarded email from me, it more than likely either came from this friend or my dad.

So seeing as this was someone whom I've known since age 12 -- and whose opinion I've always valued -- I found it rather hard to say, "No." The minute I signed up, I was suddenly being hit with friend requests from others from our graduating class. Apparently a good portion of my high school class is on Facebook.

For those of you who don't know, I grew up in Richmond -- a city that doesn't necessarily have the best reputation in the Bay Area. Then again some of us like it that way. It keeps the riffraff out. And every now and then I get that look of incredulity. "How can you be so intelligent? So well-spoken? You're from Richmond," is what the look says. And I thought of this as I read through profiles on Facebook. I was reminded that I went to high school with a group of extremely intelligent and talented people. I could understand how others might have been right if it had been merely a handful of us but it wasn't. And so when I look at my classmates, I know that those folks who say, "Ewwww Richmond," or something similar, really don't get it.

I think we're one tough bunch. I remember laughing in college over certain things that happened during my high school years. What? Not everyone experienced gang members running through their school with guns after a gang fight gone bad? You didn't have the experience of looking at some drugged out guy pull a hunting knife on you to rob the donut stand you and your classmates ran as a fundraiser? You didn't go to a school that only had day games because no one was coming into the neighborhood after the sun went down? That was the folks from other schools though.

I think that it made us ready for the worst that the world could hand us. At the same time, we were surrounded by teachers who truly believed in our abilities. And we believed in each other just as much. School was my safe place. I know it was for some of my other classmates as well. These were the people to whom I could say anything.

And maybe that's what's made me shy away from Facebook in the past. These are the people who know where the bodies are buried -- so to speak. (I even got a friend request from the guy who wanted to get married 12 years ago.) I cope, survive because there are certain parts of my past that I simply choose to ignore. But there were some good parts in that past and so now I'm just going to try to concentrate on those.


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