Saturday, April 09, 2005

Blast from the past

I know I've said a lot about what it's like to be back in LA, both good and bad, but I've failed to mention the part of life that's just plain weird. For example, after five years of schooling and all the other life changes that go along with that, I'm living in my old room in my parents house, getting nagged about cleaning my room, and working part-time in the food industry. It's like the last five years just didn't happen and I'm still in high school (without that pesky requirement to go to class, which I appreciate). At least now I'm old enough to drink, though, thank God.

But as hard as it is to digest those facts of life, even weirder are the actual blasts from the past when I run into people I haven't seen since middle school. It started at Starbucks, where I ran into Daniel, a guy I'd known since first grade who is now a manager there (and part of why I decided to apply for a job there: I was afraid that, with my Master's, even Starbucks wouldn't take me, and it was nice to know someone with credibility would recommend me. Plus he turned out to be a really cool guy.) Not too long after that, I got an email from Gloria, who I'd been good friends with through elementary and middle school (and who, incidentally, Daniel used to have a crush on). She saw my profile on Friendster, which includes a picture of me with a six-foot kiwi statue, and thus learned that I'd been in New Zealand recently. Which is where she's now studying abroad for a year. We were in Christchurch at the same time and didn't know it. At then at work at Starbucks one morning, I ran into another girl from way back when, Jenny, who now works at a casting agency down the street.

That was handle-able. At work, I'd talk to Daniel a bit about other people we knew from then and what had happened to them, if we knew. I mentioned what I knew of other people I have as friends on Friendster. Hearing the names is the strangest part, because you haven't thought about them in years, and remembering them recalls your life from back then and it's the change, I think, that stops you in your tracks. It's hard to believe your life was ever different from how it is at the moment, and yet you're being presented with incontrovertible proof that it was. But names are different from flesh and blood. They're there, you've both changed, and you're trying to see both the past and the present simultaneously. Like I said, it's weird. Most people are allowed to prepare for stuff like this starting when they get an invitation to their school reunion. It's not fair to just spring that on someone.

And last night, it happened again. Friends from high school that I've kept in touch with had a party at their house. There was beer and a hot tub, and I was SO there. I went knowing I might run into a couple of their other friends from high school who I'd also known back then--it had happened at a dinner in December, too, and it stops short of weird because they were people I'd kind of known in high school, but they were a year ahead of me and were friends of friends. And I did run into a few of them, plus some other people I hadn't met before, and it was nice chatting with everyone.

And then some new people show up, and we start in with the small talk, and one is a guy who says he went to our high school, and for some reason I asked which elementary school he went to, which I wouldn't have done if I'd been thinking (chances were 99% he'd name one of the many I hadn't gone to and the line of questioning would end with an oh-so-intelligent "Oh." and then there'd be an awkward pause while we tried to think of another question). And he named mine. At which point I had to ask his name again (Matt), and almost fell over with the shock of running into someone else I hadn't seen or thought of since middle school, at a place I hadn't expected to do so. Like so many, he now works at an agency, but started in high school, skipped college, and has thus ascended to being an actual agent, as opposed to most others who are still assistants or coordinators at our age. (And for those fans of Family Guy out there, he's worked with Seth MacFarlane a bit and informed me that he's come up with another show--not American Dad--that's so wrong it'll never air, and it's called Peaches, and I'm assured that it's to be found on the internet.) So we went the round of updating each other on other people from back then, which took awhile because between the two of us, it's now a fair number of people.

Then more people came who I hadn't seen in ages, and I got to see what my reaction had looked like: another girl, Leslie (also now working at a talent agency) showed up and hung out for a bit, and while we were making introductions, I saw recognition dawn as she talked to Matt, marked by a widening of the eyes, shortly followed by her mouth dropping open, and then suddenly pointing her finger at him and saying "YOU used to work in tech!" (Both had been involved in putting on a number of musicals at the high school, she as a performer, he as a stagehand.) And while I said it wasn't that weird to run into people just from high school, I was wrong: when there are lots of them, it's weird. A blast from the past sensory overload.

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