Thursday, 22 July 2010

Making Contact Electronically: Some Blasts from the Past

Time out today for a reflection on the way that the internet brings people closer together.

No, I'm not talking about FaceBook and Twitter party invitations, which in some cases seem to work amazingly well. On one of the first nice Friday afternoons this year, I was amazed to see hundreds of teenagers headed for Jeanne Mance Park in central Montreal, carrying things to eat and drink. It wasn't anything organized in advance, but the result of someone having the bright idea of suggesting a gathering would be a great thing. Apparently it was: no trouble, no sweat. but considerable surprise from municipal officials who didn't expect troops of young people hanging out that afternoon following an idea that went viral.

But there also are the sites that hook people up who may have shared experiences years ago, as well as e-mail searches that turn up old friends. Lee recently was contacted by one of his buddies from elementary and junior high school, and they've been enjoying catching up on their divergent histories. We also showed a friend of the old friend around Montreal several weeks ago since she was coming to town on a cruise.

And then there is a FaceBook page from my old neighborhood, started by James Sperber, a guy a decade younger than I who is also a physician. Very interesting to see pix of Point Loma and Ocean Beach. Although I left long ago and have been back infrequently, the places remain in my memory. My novel-before-last--After Surfing Ocean Beach--is rooted there. Making Waves: The Continuing Portuguese Adventure, which will be published by Véhicule Press in the fall, also owes considerable to the experience of growing up in a place where tuna fishermen and their families of Portuguese descent showed just how big the world is.

Maybe this says something about the way that things you encounter as a teenager--be they a park in Montreal, sports fields in Fresno (as in Lee's case) or the ocean of San Diego--stay with you all your life.

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