The past week has been troublesome. I’ve had a nagging cold eating away at my days. I try to spend my spare time just taking it easy, trying to recover, but it’s a tenacious bastard. It seemed to start a week ago last night. In spite of all that, Leah and I took a trip to Minneapolis to see Dinosaur Jr. play at the Triple Rock and to visit Judah; I’ll post more details on that later.
Sometime the previous week though, I came home to find an unusual message on my answering machine. The caller introduced himself with the name of a childhood friend who I last saw about 20 years ago, and said he was looking to get in touch with me so he called a name out of the phone book that looked like it might be me. Luckily he wasn’t deterred by the fact that my phone book listing is misspelled as “Charlas” rather than “Charles,” which Leah had discovered just the previous day. How do I so often end up a misprint? I remember going to a MathCounts competition in the 8th grade and, when they posted the scores, I was listed as “Chanos Hoffman.” My best friend back at that time, Ryo, jokingly called me Chanos from then until his family moved to Japan a year or so later. Similarly, this old friend who was calling, Chad, had moved to Arkansas after the 5th grade. We had exchanged a few letters, but I’m notoriously bad about keeping mail correspondence going with friends or family. The Internet is probably the best thing ever to happen to me, in that regard.
So anyway Chad left his number, so I called him. We chatted for quite some time about our work and family life and some of our old memories. He now lives in Missouri, working as a mental health technician. I found this a little surprising, since I’d always pictured him working with cars in some way. He and his father used to always be working on cars and even at a very young age Chad knew his way around an engine; his father ran a body shop for many years in Arkansas. Our lives have definitely taken very different paths – Chad has three kids, two of them teenagers that are his wife’s kids from before they married, and both of Chad’s parents have passed away since we last corresponded. Whereas both my parents are alive and well and raising my niece in their old hometown, and the only dependents Leah and I have are our four cats – I can’t even imagine being the parent of a 17-year old right now.
It was really cool to hear from him. We ended up exchanging mailing addresses and plans to send each other pictures of family and such. Had I been thinking, I would have asked for an email address. Hopefully putting together a letter and some pictures will not be something I just forget about doing, and in the letter I’ll remember to include my email address with a few sentences explaining how I practically live on the Internet and how email would be the best way to continue our correspondence. Hopefully he isn’t offended by the suggestion – some people seem to think email is impersonal. Myself, I actually find it more personal, because it’s quicker and easier. Hopefully he has an email address he checks regularly.