Thursday, January 27, 2011

Social Media & Old Friends - A Writer's Workshop

I'm diving in and participating in Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop from over at Mama's Losing It for the first time ever. Don't be too hard on me. The prompt is this: Social media is an amazing way to reunite with old friends. Describe a good or not-so-good experience you've had with it.

I’d been on facebook for a while before I thought to search for her. There she was. I spent a week and a half debating on whether to send her a friend request. Finally, I decided I had nothing to lose. The worst that could happen is she’d ignore it.

My favorite job in the late 80’s was working at a kids horse camp. Dude ranch style. I loved every second of it and made lots of great friends.

One of those was a girl named Julie*. Julie was a year younger than me and we had much in common, our love of horses being only one of them. We spent a couple of summers working together at the camp, living that summer time dream.

At the end of the second summer, her dad spent some time at the camp on the weekends (he was on the board of directors) and at the end of the summer, brought his boat over and took a few of us to another lake water skiing and having a great time.

Julie and I stayed in touch and I was invited to do a few things with their family, which was made up full time of Julie and her dad, with her two sisters there every other weekend (they lived with their mom while Julie chose to live with her dad).

Funny, once I was there for dinner and Julie was making tempura - something she proudly told me how she’d learned to do. I was hanging out in the kitchen watching her and talking, but her dad told me to let her cook and come back into the living room. I thought nothing of it. Nothing of the fact that he was sitting in the living room with me, him dominating the conversation, while the friend I’d come to see was alone in the kitchen. Naive. I thought nothing of the fact that with some framed pictures of his kids from that summer, was a picture of me with Julie, as well. Hanging on the wall in his house. Naive.

They had a couple of horses at the camp, which was across the state, but Julie’s dad wanted to get a horse closer to home that they could enjoy year round. I had my horse at a boarding stable, so he asked me for information on boarding, vets, etc. One day I got a call from Julie’s dad about going with them to look at a horse they were considering buying. I was certainly no expert, but I was happy to go along for the ride. Looking at horses was never boring for me. I was babysitting for a good family friend, but he said no problem, bring her along. Thank goodness, because when I met up with them, there was no “them”. Only “him”. That was the first time that feeling that something wasn’t right crept in, and I was glad to have my child charge with me to use as a shield and a distraction. I should have turned and run. But I was young and extremely naive.

He bought that horse and boarded her in the same stable as mine. It was no where near their house. I was called on more and more for silly advice things, helping with the horse’s care - she turned out to have a foot problem and needed vet care.

To this day I can’t remember what he finally did that made me realize that it was no longer about being Julie’s friend. HE was the one interested. Julie hardly ever came down with him. I had keys to his stable locker and I went down there, handed them to him, told him he was on his own with his horse and that I wasn’t interested in being anything other than Julie’s friend.

Then the flowers came with a card that said, “You drove away before I could say I Love You.”

I was one freaked out 18 year old. While he never made a physical advance toward me, I was still completely weirded out and out of my element. Of course I distinctly remember my family members saying, “Duh, I could have told you that’s what he wanted.” Well why the hell didn’t you? Oh yeah, I was 18 and would never have believed them. It’s that naive thing.

There was another card left on my stable door. Something about looking at the moon and missing me. I think I threw up a little when I read that. To his credit, he stopped contacting me.

It was only after it all happened that I saw the pattern. His last “girlfriend” had been only 19. And had previously worked at the camp. I began to worry about his relationship with his daughters. I worried that he was looking for dating material and a kids camp. The camp dissolved, and while it saddened me greatly, at least I had no more contact with him.

But in the process, I lost Julie. She was someone I really cared about. I didn’t know what she knew about her dad and his advances toward me. I didn’t know what she thought of me. I knew I couldn’t ever go to her house again. I didn’t try to contact her and she didn’t try to contact me.

Then came facebook. The worst that could happen is she’d ignore my friend request. She didn’t. She was so glad to hear from me, and I from her. She immediately asked for my address to add me to her Christmas card list, as it was just before the holidays. She was married with three darling young children, living in another part of the country. She looked great and my nervousness slipped away as we’ve stayed in touch facebook style, exchanging comments and memories here and there, along with yearly Christmas cards and talk of seeing each other when they move back to the Pacific Northwest in a year and a half. Social media gave me back someone who'd been an important part of my life. The one time hitting "Send" paid off in a big way.



Sammy K said...

Creepy dads...ew. But that's pretty awesome that you guys are reconnecting! Yay for Facebook! =)

Emily said...

Wow, I don't even know what to say except poor Julie and lucky and smart 18-year-old you.

So glad you have found each other and Julie is living a happy life.

Very well written as well.

Clarinda said...

Wow! Sorry you had to go through that, but happy you've reconnected with Julie. :)

Theresa said...

Creepy older guys. Ewwww. I had a creepy uncle. I won't explain, but it was an unpleasant part of my childhood.
As for social media, I reconnected with my best friend from the Air Force last month, and we're planning on meeting up next month. I'm so happy to hear from her again. She's my younger son's godmother and a lifelong dear friend.
Good post!