Lately I've been making more and more connections to people I knew when I was growing up. My 20th high school reunion was last summer, and although I didn't go, it prompted several email exchanges with people I hadn't seen since then. Then a few months ago I got on Facebook, and made several connections there, some with people I've known since first or second grade. A few more showed up in LinkedIn. On my personal website I also have a bunch of class pictures up from elementary school-- more trickle in.
I especially love reconnecting from people from elementary school. I was lucky enough to live in the same place K-12 and so go to school with a group of kids that knew each other all that time. A lot of kids don't have that kind of stability. People you knew from age 6-10 know the real you, before you started trying to live up to the expectations of others.
Just a few days ago, I was thinking about all the people I met online during my last year of college, when "BBSing" was the geeky thing to do. This was before the internet existed. People would use a modem and call a computer which ran the BBS software. You could leave messages for other people and play some online games (all text-based). Most BBSes had only one phone line in so only one person could be logged in at a time. Some were networked, and so you could send messages across the country or around the world. (Along with the academically-based Bitnet, the Fido network was one of the first ways to share genealogical research online.)
In New Orleans, where I went to college, there was a distinct BBS community. (Later, when I went to law school in Chicago, I joined Chinet, which was the world's first BBS; I still log in there occasionally and it just celebrated its 30th anniversary in February.) One of the fun things about it was that most people used an alias to log in; I was Guenivere. Some people created lots of aliases and personas to go with them, but I was always just Guennie. I had friends with monikers like Alcor, Shinzu, Pundit, Awesome Heap, Homeboy, Flavius, Jezebel, Mortie, Socrates, Piano Man, Princess Toadstool, Wizard, Shinobi, Mr. Fender Jaguar, Thinker, Attila the Hun, Count Strahd, Limulus. . . the list goes on and on. These people, of course, are the opposite of those elementary school classmates of mine, in terms of being able to know the "real" person behind the exterior persona we all present to the world.
Anyway, this past week I was thinking about all this and I did an online search and came up with a nostalgic blog post by my old BBS buddy Jezebel about much the same thing. She told me about BBSmates, which is a site much akin to Classmates.com, but without the hype. So I found a bunch more folks I used to know. I sure would like to connect with a few more, though. (Not naming any names, Bruce!)
Yesterday I got email from someone who was my next-door neighbor when I was three years old. (Though when we moved it was only a couple of blocks away and stayed there until after I graduated from college--and his mom was my babysitter after school.) I think that one must be a record!