Over the last few weeks I've had several intense conversations with old friends, the oldest sort, from before high school, people I've grown up with and who know me perhaps better than anyone else ever could. There is no remaking of my story with them, they know my awkward stage, the pain of senior year and the weirdness of my life, but also the joys and happiness I've had. These conversations took place over IM. Formerly I was of the thought that truly intense conversations needed to take place in person and that IM was a poor substitute for a conversation piece. I've always been a fan of going for coffee (for real coffee and not pretend coffee as I've been asked out for) and chatting for hours into the night until the night switches to morning and what you really need is sleep.
So yes, without IM these conversations could never have occurred. One of my friends is serving is 2nd tour in Afghanistan, his 3rd in the Middle East and we usually chat once per tour. The rest of the time its when he's home. The other friend is back in rural Maine. Again, the chat would never have occurred without IM. I hate the phone and avoid it at all costs but I'll tell you now this chat was amazing. We asked questions of one another we may never have if we were in person.
Sure IM sterilizes conversations and sometimes you go to places you may not go if you were not on IM and sometimes, that is a good thing. I realize, without thinking, without qualms that I miss these people in my life. I realize that even in my youth I was a good judge of character and surrounded myself with people whom I shared common themes and joys. We shared much happiness these 2 and I. Never together, but separately together with me we shared good times.
Just when I can't remember anything but bad from high school (Port boys tossing me into lockers, calling me names and my former friend outing me to the school*) something like this occurs and I remember some of those moments of joy and happiness and I"m able to point out that those 4 years I so commonly refer to as "4 Years of Hell" were not all bad and more often than not were full of happiness and joy.
*Port boys were a group of guys from a port town who went to my high school. They were rough, rugged and stupid. I mean dumber than a pile of bricks covered in poop. One of their ranks decided my senior year he was going to pick on me, for god knows what reason. Most likely he had heard the rumor that a former friend has started that I was a homo, nevermind that it was true. Down East Maine in the early 90's was not a safe place to be out. I had up until senior year really been friendly with everyone in my school. The harassment, name calling and getting shoved into lockers started. I kept quiet on it. The bullying would only get worse if I reported it and I didn't want to explain to my friends WHY they were picking on me. The assistant headmaster saw some of it hauled me into the office and spoke with me, wanting to know what was wrong. I kept my mouth shut. He'd been something of an advisor to me over the years and had been my history teacher. At one point one of the port boys got into my face was calling me names and threatening me when one of the guys in my class stood up for me. He probably doesn't remember this at all but he shoved the guy, asked him what his effing problem was and told him to back off. Frankly, we called him Big D for a reason, he was huge and buff. No one messed with him. The kid who was picking on me backed off and only harassed me in quiet tones after than. Big D and I were never friends and I suspect his help had something to do with male dominance rather than actual desire to help me out. But I never forgot that. Big D is a facebook friend of mine now and he's still huge and buff and now a bounty hunter. Given his instincts of protection, I suspect it's a good job for him.