Wednesday, April 19, 2006


I have this obsession with searching for ex-girlfriends on Myspace. I can honestly say it's not because I'm still carrying a flame, but that I am addicted to that weird feeling that sweeps over you when you see someone from old memories. It actually feels like getting my feet knocked out from under me by a wave.

I had two exes who I regard as my white whales, because I can only get these periodic glimpses through worktime Googling that don't really spell anything out. They tug at my memory (I can remember a little love and, for one particularly lucky lady, pretty raw high school-depth hatred) but it's not the same as seeing someone with a picture of their new infant on their lap or seeing that they're waiting tables in Vegas.

I finally found one on Myspace and I was struck by one particular coincidence- she wound up going to Oxford at around the same time that I would have gone. At one point in my life, that was my big goal, every plan I had tied up in a clever, snobby knot. It didn't work out and it's for the better considering how happy I am now, but it's strange to think of the coincidence of running into her there in my alternate future. Oxford is a small enough place that the Americans bump into each other eventually, generally in search of something spicy to eat.

Since this ex and I had broken up, I had run into her once before in another improbable location (Potomac Mills, which is a huge mall far from either of our hometowns). If we had improbably met again, would that have been fate? Bullshit. I call shenanigans on fate. Think about the grander plan that opens up when you just trust to coincidence: there's that perfect shiver when I think that someone I've known has walked on the same cobblestone thousands of miles away that I have. It's like being a linked photon, but instead of the binary arrangement you're linked to everyone you've ever known with invisible lines of memory that pull taught and break, falling at your feet in cords to stumble onto years later.

I feel bad that I haven't kept up with people that have shaped me, for better or worse. I can't let my informational obsession go, though, knowing now that I can see the near misses of people I saw every day years ago. I like knowing that fate has nothing on the raw coincidence of running into someone in a dingy bar in Nepal or the steps of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul or the Apple Blossom Parade in Winchester, Virginny. Since most people I've known tend to be a little odd, I can trust that coincidence is handicapped by the joyous fact that freaks flock together. Even with that in place, I can still marvel at those that have stood before me once now floating around like dust in a sunlit room.


Blogger Kismet said...

"Since most people I've known tend to be a little odd, I can trust that coincidence is handicapped by the joyous fact that freaks flock together."

I can so relate to that statement.

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Jess said...

I've been finding all sorts of ghosts from my past on Myspace. I'm actually going out for drinks with one tomorrow.

9:15 AM  
Anonymous qkslvrwolf said...

What about the people you knew briefly, admired, but have never gotten to really spend time with or get to know? These past opportunities are the ghosts that attract my attention. The people who I thought I really could've learned something from, or who I simply thought were really golden people, but whom circumstances or timing never allowed close contact with. I'm not talking potential girlfriends here. I'm talking anyone you've met, had one great conversation with, found admirable...and then you never see them again. But they leave such an impression on you that you always wonder what you could've contributed to each other...

8:11 PM  
Blogger Alcarwen said...

i can't let all those ghosts go either- it's interesting to see where people ended up... where you would've ended up if you had stayed a "we" with them.

there are many people that i once knew that i wish i still did... i'm terrible about keeping in touch (it's only people like you who seem to be able to put up with it!)... but i don't know. i think there are people who were once important and the fact that they have no role in your life right now doesn't invalidate their previous importance of the shaping of your character...

... and it's natural to be curious about what-ever-happened-to-white-whale ... who wouldn't want to know how the story turned out?

1:41 PM  

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