Have you ever called someone up after not having spoken with them in 20 years? I did that very thing, crazy though it seemed, just the other day. I'd been thinking of my elementary years and how much I'd moved around. I decided to go online and see if I couldn't find some old friends of mine. I used Google, and looked up various close school friends who I'd completely lost touch with. One friend actually had a current photo and phone number on a medical lab website. So I called him...
David Scoville lived in the building next to mine when we were in fifth grade. Our dads were both at UCLA and we were living in family student housing. We went to Clover Elementary School and had Mrs. Shapiro as our teacher. Both of us were pretty good at math and Mrs. Shapiro didn't quite know what to do with us. So David and I would sit in the back corner of the classroom everyday during math time and work through the book together at our own pace. We also occasionally walked to school together, and were both in the GATE program.
He moved away after that year and I hadn't seen or talked to him since. After twenty years, I found him online and called him.
He's currently in an MD/PhD program in Kansas, researching adult stem cells, specifically in the intestine. He's married and has two little boys, aged 3 1/2 and 2 1/2. We've had quite different paths: he went to junior high and high school in Idaho, while I was in L.A. and Africa; he went to college in Utah and studied microbiology while I went to college in Illinois and studied education. He's committed to many years of higher education while I'm home with kids full-time. But it was fun to talk about memories of California and fifth grade, and to catch up on what we've both done since then.
Last summer I read a book called "Third Culture Kids" and thought about the benefits and losses of being a missionary kid. The authors wrote about the instability a missionary kid feels, as he lives in one culture and has furloughs in another culture, as his friends come and go at different times, and as he never feels quite like he belongs. I thought of my childhood, moving from one university to another as my dad did various degrees, and realized that being a student's kid is similar to being a missionary kid.
By the time I was in eighth grade, I had lived in 8 different apartments and gone to five schools. I'd make a good friend in each class and then have to say goodbye. The most stable things in my life were my grandpa's house in San Diego, and my church in Los Angeles where we were involved for six years in a row. I talked with David about this. As he pointed out, there are so many benefits to that kind of life. We can move pretty easily. We make friends fairly quickly. And we have friends scattered across the country (or world).
But I heard some people here in Lexington talking about their kids growing up their entire lives with a best friend and it made me sad. It made me wonder: what has happened to my friends? I can't go back to one hometown and see old schoolmates. They were student's kids, too, and they could be anywhere in the world now. But I do have a history. I did have friends who knew me at various times.
That is why it was so neat to find David Scoville and chat for a while on the phone. He's part of my history, even if a brief part. Talking to him reminded me of my past and helped me feel like I'm not a completely root-less person. Now I just need to get a hold of a few more of those good friends from twenty years ago...