Monday, February 25, 2013


I decided that I would try to catch up with Tim, whom I hadn’t seen or spoken to since college, after reading an interview with his wife, another classmate of ours, that was published in a journal by the university where she was currently teaching. 

I admit to idly “Googling” her name, as I’ve done with other lost acquaintances, during a particularly barren passage in the copious “downtime” I’ve experienced over the past few years.  Like many others, I’m not immune from so-called social media’s so-called seductions, although my searches are benign, i.e.,  I do not concentrate on former girlfriends or stalk anyone. 

I’m just curious and used to be a little bit sentimental about enjoyable parts of my past.

It was nice seeing her name and picture.  Although she always had incipient martinet tendencies, I liked her, and she still looked like herself on the page.

The interview contained links to several online videos showing sociology lectures she had given, including one delivered in Spanish that seemed as long as one of Fidel Castro’s monumental, necrotic speeches.  Her English language lectures prompted feelings of amazement, semi-nostalgia and nausea;  I hadn’t heard that sort of pretentious, inpenetrable academic jargon since college. 

Still, she looked relaxed and happy (and the Barcelona university mise-en-scène was muy inviting), and even though she was hiding behind the lingo, I didn’t have the feeling that there were any deep, dark secrets.  She was just an average, academically accomplished person who had succeeded in the university tenure system at a time when it was still possible to do so and she was riding with it.

Armed with the happy discovery that she was alive, and having figured out her university’s email address styling, I thought to contact Tim, who I found was affiliated with the same institution and was really the one in the  couple with whom I shared friendship.   It had always been a nice, mostly stoned, semi-silent bond formed while listening to music for hours on end in that peaceful old-time way that vanished immediately after graduation and starting work.

I thought I should research Tim’s post-Swarthmore life a little before writing, and I was amazed and pleased with the things I turned up.  It didn’t surprise me at all to learn that his archeology career had borne bountiful fruit.  Always a meticulously observant person, quiet and unpretentious, he was a fine example of the“still waters run deep” type.  

Archeologists “do” as well as teach, and the discipline’s physical rigors and rapturous mysteries immunized him from the social sciences' serial, ludicrous neologisms.  I had recently been reading some of John Buchan’s supernatural short stories, like The Watcher At The Threshold and No- Man’s Land, which bore common elements and themes (or so it seemed to me) with Tim's explorations, and I was certain we would get along famously again and soon, even if only as email correspondents.

I composed a short but adequate note, extending greetings, miniaturizing 30 years. I aimed and then propelled my missive.


Soon I received a good and adequate reply.  Tim and his wife had split and, from what he wrote I could tell that this wasn’t, in his view, tragic even though she had behaved really badly. 

He had recoupled, loved his work (which he explained a bit since I’d shown interest in it) and concluded by saying that he was a really bad correspondent.

I took the last part to mean “don’t bother writing again.” 

I haven’t, but I do miss him -- even listening to all those Miles Davis “fusion” albums I didn’t like very much.

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