Facebook and Memory Lane
Veronica Writes!
About a month ago, a thought popped into my head. What ever happened to Tamera? Where did that gangly, sweet and truly unique little girl with the pig tails and big glasses that I went to Junior High with end up? What did she become?

We were the original Valley Girls. We hung out with boys who skateboarded, went to the beach every weekend and said “Like” and “You know” like, way too much, you know? I wonder if she finds it ironic, as I do, when she hears today’s college girls speaking like this, while most of us old school Valley Girls don’t anymore? Actually, I’ve managed to completely kill off the “likes,” but the “you knows” keep sneaking in no matter how hard I’ve tried to subdue them. I fear it will be my lifelong homage to my California roots. Maybe I should just like, embrace it, you know?

I performed a quick scan of my life since Junior High, and wondered if Tamera's life paralleled mine at all.

Was she one of the “supermoms” that many of us, for better or worse, became? Did she struggle to balance career and family? Or did she become a career-first woman, living the life of “Sex in the City” on Manhattan? Maybe, she is on the high seas chasing down illegal whalers with Greenpeace. The more I thought about it, the more I HAD to know.

Initially, my Facebook use was limited to keeping up with my daughters, 24 and 22, who were part of the site’s original college demographic. When David and I left St. Croix to become gypsies, Facebook allowed me to stay in touch with the island gang.

Soon, things blossomed a bit -- people from my recent past found me. Suddenly I was receiving friend requests from folks I had known during our years in Nashville, students from the school where I had worked -- all in college now and scattered about the country -- even our buddies in Europe. I am now “Facebook friends” with some of 24 & 22’s chums and even a few of THEIR mothers, none of whom I’ve ever met face-to-face! It’s a remarkable tool. (At this point, I must add a little jab at The Boy, my 19-year-old college student, who STILL hasn’t “friended” me. -- I must remember to harass him a bit... for my own enjoyment, of course.)

Now that I had become Facebook literate, it was a simple process to see if Tamera was a Facebookite. To my delight, she was! I sent her a friend request and while I waited with bated breath for her reply, my mind wandered down memory lane…

Little incidents popped into my head. Like the time Tamera and I stayed up until three in the morning doing a left-off-until-the-last-minute history project -- fashioning the Pyramids out of paper-mâché. The details are unclear, but the next morning, one of us groggily stumbled out of bed and smashed them flat! We turned in what had to be the ugliest project in the history of man.

Back then, Monday mornings were spent with the gang recapping and spoofing the hilarity of the last weekend’s Saturday Night Live, brand new to the airwaves. When the Eagles released "Hotel California," it changed our lives. “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret” was THE book we discussed while anxiously awaiting the onset of our first periods. We got the lowdown on R-rated movies from the kids with the “cool moms.” I experienced my first kiss, my first slow dance, my first heartbreak. I learned to shave my legs and paint my nails.

As with most people, I suppose, Junior High was a defining moment for me, a mixed up bundle of hopes and hormones. I was learning who I was, and the kids around me were a big part of who I would become. I learned through their action and inaction. We were a small, tight knit group at a tiny private school. Ours was a family-style dynamic. We didn’t always like each other, but woe to the outsider who tried to put any of us down. Junior High gave me my first glimpse into how I would fit into society.

Tamera turned out to be a beautiful, passionate supermom of two -- who just dropped her oldest off for her freshman year of college. Our lives were eerily parallel in some ways, strikingly different in others. “Stalking” each other on Facebook was so much fun.

In the space of a month, things have snowballed. Tamera is Facebook friends with Jason, who I caught up with in an hour long Facebook chat. Jason sent Mike, Tina and Tyrone my way. And so on.

Facebook walls are being written on: “Remember Christine? What was Gary’s last name? Has anyone heard from Lisa?"

Dusty yearbooks are being cracked: “In seventh grade you said you wanted to be a doctor. Are you a doctor?”

A reunion is already in the works. It’s incredible.

As a group, we are still a little society, a microcosm of the world around us. We are academics, artists, doctors, lawyers, studio heads (I am from California, remember) and peace officers. Together we have raised a small town’s worth of children, are happily married and happily single, are Republicans and Democrats, have paunches and wrinkles and, most importantly, have a shared past. And, sharing we are!

A few tips on getting started down Facebook Memory Lane:

Ladies, when signing up for Facebook, include your maiden name as your middle name. Explaining who you are all the time gets old -- quick. This also makes it easier for long lost pals when searching for you.

Searched for someone and received multiple results? Let’s not kid ourselves, at our age, NO ONE looks the same as they did in school. You are not going to be able to tell who they are by their profile picture. Unless they are using their 8th grade school photo. How great would THAT be? The best way to ID someone is by stalking their friends list. Chances are that you will see siblings or parents on there.

Once you have made contact, stalk everyone’s friend list. See who else is out there.

Send a little message along with your friend requests. If they don’t recognize you, they aren’t going to “friend you back.“ Sometimes people need their memories jarred.

Facebook "Groups" are another great way to find people. My elementary school has a group. 24's community dance troop has a group. I bet you can find Boy Scout Troops, dorm floors -- who knows? I'm a hacker at heart and I love digging around. Start by using the search box on the top of the page.

If you’ve kept them, keep your yearbooks handy. Mine are packed in a storage unit a thousand miles away due to our GypsyNester lifestyle. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I could have something more than my memory to rely on during this process! A small price to pay for the freedom of the road I guess.

Now that you have a little group together, be active. Post to their walls, comment on their statuses. That’s when the REAL surprises happen. As diligent as I was combing through friend lists, I missed quite a few people. Why? The most common obstacle is not knowing married names but one guy has an alias he uses just for fun. Another guy uses a new last name because... he somehow got adopted after high school? Has a stalker problem? Maybe he's in the witness protection program. Oh, I know, he must have married a rich widow and decided to take HER name. By commenting, Facebook shows your message to others and voila! someone recognizes your name. New contact.

Automate things a bit:

Facebook has a "find classmates" feature. From your "Home", click "Friends" on the top menu bar. Once there, scroll down the page and click on "Find former high school classmates." There is also a feature for college (no Junior High, unfortunately!).

To automate further, go to your profile page and add your high school and/or college. On the top menu bar: "Profile", then "Edit My Profile" under your picture, then "Education and Work." This enables your old buddies to find you when they use Facebook's "Find Classmates" feature.

As an added plus, every time I connect with someone new, the old ticker gets a little jolt. That has to be good for at us at our age, like, you know?

Veronica, GypsyNester.com

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