So back about Tuesday? I got this email notice from Linked In. Those of you on this know you get stuff from them all the time, about 2/3 of which are total strangers. But I always check the name, just in case. I rarely (if ever) do a search for possible connections myself and thus have a very small connection list (it says 62, which stuns me. I didn't know I knew that many people). Anyway, there's this notice, and a name.
A name has such power. This was an immediate 'wow, that can't possibly be her.' DW was one of my very first students, way back in 1986. I'm pretty sure it was my first semester as a TA: there were three kids in that class that were friends, and we all kept in touch (kinda) as I struggled through that hellish MA program oh-so-many-years-ago. I finished my MA, left academia for a job in SFO, but as a reward I gave self a 6 week backpacking/Eurorail trip to Europe. I knew that DW and her BFF were on study abroad stints: DW in Germany and her BFF (whose name completely escapes me) in Spain. So I went to see them while I was there. Spent maybe 2 days with DW and one with BFF (got mugged on arrival and left that night, determined to get out before the mugging could screw up my impression of Spain... and was already too late. I can't think of that city - its beauty, its people, anything - without focusing on the mugging). We exchanged a few letters then lost contact.
Until the internet. I know that I've searched for DW and one of those friends a couple of times, but come up empty. And was always surprised that my memory of them (and their names) was so clear. And I never really knew what I'd do if I found them, because, after all I was simply one TA early in their undergrad careers 20+ years ago. Tuesday, DW's name pops up, and I send one of those -'is this really you' emails. And OMG, it WAS. She's done a 'net search for me and found me.
So we've spent the week firing emails back and forth, catching up and exchanging news. She lives about 8 hours from here, has a lovely family, writes and teaches and consults. It's not been an easy journey for her, but she's in a good place now on many many levels. Her novel has just been published, gotten some great reviews, her daughter just turned 14... amazing.
And the whole process has just been wow-provoking. She remembered me enough to search, reach out. I remember her so clearly, and am hoping to attend her book launch in her hometown. I've reconnected with several people through the 'net. And it continues to astonish.