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Technology forges ahead and drags me along with it whether I like it or not. I can't create a Web site (unless maybe I devote every waking hour for the next month). I can't program (I tried). And I can't fix my computer. If it freezes, so do I. Frustrating, yes, but nothing compared to techno-crimes or potential risks like online predators, cell phones as health hazards or character assassination via chat/webcam/blogs.
So what about the good technology stuff? It's out there, even for us technology-challenged types. I write novels and store each revision without killing trees. I keep a spreadsheet of all the books I read. I text with my college-aged kid.
But I recently experienced my most powerful technology moment: I found my former roommate, a woman I lost touch with 25 years ago. I Googled her name and there she was. I sent a tentative e-mail to Jill and tried not to think about it.
Two days later, her e-mail response ended, "Thank you for reaching out." More e-mails followed, and we made plans to meet in San Francisco. She now lives two hours north of the apartment we shared in San Francisco's Noe Valley in the early 1980s.
"You look the same!" we both said, and it's mostly true. We've aged well. We're both still high-energy and organized. In fact, she's now a professional organizer. She organizes executives who aren't productive and people whose kitchens look great but don't function. And now I remember the wildly successful garage sale she organized at our place years ago.
We ate lunch in the old neighborhood at a place called Savor, an appropriate name considering we spent two hours over a bowl of chili and an omelet while reviewing our lives since I moved to Western Pennsylvania. How often does anyone look back at all the choices, all the moves, all that passed time?
We squeezed an awful lot of words into that short afternoon and found out that our middle-aged selves have a lot in common. We both married geeks four years our junior. We both had one child. Those two children, now in colleges on opposite coasts, are both trying to blend artsy/mathy subjects into viable majors. We both live on multiple acres but barely garden. We both love to eat but don't much care to cook. And we both agreed that we were just about perfect roommates. So how did we lose touch so completely?
After I moved back east, I wrote a few letters but didn't call. Long distance was a luxury to me, and flying out for a visit was beyond luxury. A few years later I got married and took my husband's last name, and then we changed that name to its original Italian spelling. The old me isn't even Google-able. My family of three moved a few times, and the years ran past.
Now Jill and her family are on the list to receive our annual Christmas letter. People love our Christmas letter. We make fun of ourselves and keep it short on words and long on candid photos. I think people still like to receive letters with a real handwritten signature. I know I do.
But right now it's nowhere near Christmas. In fact, it's a beautiful sunny day. So today I might use my digital camera to take pictures of wildflowers in my backyard, download them onto my computer and e-mail them to Jill, just to say hello. Technology is good.
First Published August 16, 2008 12:00 am