Over the past ten years I have intentionally focused on the present and concentrated on not living in or dwelling on the past. Sometimes, however, little pieces of past peek out from dark hiding places in my mind, daring me to look.
Yesterday morning an image of my first wife popped into my head. With one exception I have had no contact with her in more than thirty years. We were young and foolish back then, especially me, and we should never have been married. I knew some of how her life turned out since then because my mother used to read the daily newspaper cover to cover and would occasionally find a birth notice, award announcement or obituary relating in some way to people my sister and I knew and she would tell us about it. So I knew my first wife had remarried a few years after our divorce, had at least two kids and had lived in various towns near New Orleans and in Florida.
Also in the past ten years, I started looking up people from my past, to see how they turned out; I would usually look for her too … just out of curiosity. Four years ago I found her in a website that is quite scary in that there is so much personal information on it. I learned the names of her sons, the name of each city she had lived in for the past few decades and even her then current address… fifteen minutes from where I now live!!! I don’t know what shocked me more, that I could get that information so easily or that she lived five highway exits from me here in Maryland, a very unlikely place for her to live.
When I made that discovery I thought about sending her a letter. Would she be shocked, surprised or pissed? Probably all three. I decided against it. Of course I wondered what would happen if I ran into her at the local Wal-mart. Would we recognize each other? Would that moment be even more awkward than sending her a letter? I decided to forget any thought about contacting her; I merely added this to my list of goofy life stories.
Then I found her on Facebook. Earlier this year. Based on the picture in her profile, I would not have recognized her. No, I did NOT “friend” her, but her privacy settings weren’t all that strict so I DID send her a message. And she replied. That was quite an “interesting” round of catching up … thirty years in three paragraphs from each of us. Definitely odd and mildly inappropriate. I am happy that things turned out well for her and I am certain we will have no further contact.
I am curious why her image popped into my head yesterday. First kiss to last signature on divorce papers was three years and it all happened decades ago. I have three or four vivid memories of that time but most of the rest is erased. Nothing ever conjures up thoughts of her; no song, no movie, no event. New Orleans is on my mind this week because of the current tropical storm dumping rain there and this is the 6th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s visit, but those things shouldn’t connect me to her in any way. It’s all just a random odd thought, emphasis on “odd.”