Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Practice of Friending

I was a bit late arriving to the Facebook station, maybe because it takes me such a long time to mull over trends and then weigh whether I can hop on before their hipness pulls away. But thanks to the urging of a former student and my sister, I joined the crowd on the platform. You have to find your way and decide whether social networking even serves any purpose for you. Once you figure out the etiquette (i.e., don't post negative or personal messages, as everything has potential to go public), you can refine your role on Facebook. I myself like to flit around as a demi-Kokopelli, that flute-playing trickster whose image is overused in Southwestern advertising. I like to post my little quips and then see what kind of response comes 'round. (Aside: Kokopelli also has allusions of randiness, fertility, and agriculture, but I doubt much of that fits my Facebook profile.) Anyway, to its credit, the Facebook phenomenon does help link you to friends from the past and it helps acquaint you with those you might not otherwise run into. For me, it's become an entertaining conduit to my more traditional friendships.

From my fog of adolescence, I do remember my mom stating, "Jean, do not ever lose touch with your friends." I was a little know-it-all about human relations in those days, so of course I shrugged her off with my silent retort, "Hummph...what would MY 50something mother know about friends? I don't even see her running around with any friends!" Of course, I'm leaving out the parts like my mom raised 4 kids on her nurse's wages, she worked the 3 pm to 11 shift, there was a time when 5 of us relied on one Ford Maverick...yeah. But her exhortation comes back to me now. How prescient she was. Our friends, virtual, real, remembered, upcoming--these are the figures that stabilize and enrich our lives. Everyone knows this; it's just been crystallizing for me in recent years.

One serendipitous result of Facebooking was re-meeting a teaching colleague from the late '80s. I bet we had not seen each other for 14 years prior to her visit to Pasadena last weekend from Olympia, WA. We had a hilarious, sad, wondrous catchup, cataloging our many life changes and just reflecting how we cope and teach and learn to BE in this life. We also dined at Puebla Tacos #2, a homey little spot for hungry LA ex-pats and local yokels like me. The punctuation of the years fell away as we laughed it up, my mom's words preserved in parentheses.

Too, I credit Facebook for my invitation yesterday to a memorial at Hollywood Presbyterian Church. My long-ago student, now a mother of 3 and my cyber-pal, invited me to her dad's service. She's an ordained minister. As she delivered her remarks about her pop, I realized, this isn't your 17-year old yearbook staffer anymore; this is a polished divinity grad who knows how to structure the story of a life and imbue it with meaning in a way that all of us can grasp. At the reception, I found yet another student, herself a teacher these last 15 years, and her mom, whom I had met at many a parent function as her three kids grew up in our school. It was a delightful funeral, if that is not too oxymoronic, and it was my privilege to connect with these people once again.

Puebla Tacos #2
1819 E. Villa
Pasadena 91104


  1. Delightful funerals sound like the way to go to me Plus, it also sounds like you are positively endorsing the FBk website? Still, most of us (me included) don't know how to most effectively use social/internet media.

    Family & Friends are what most important. Meeting new friends is also an annual new years resolution.

  2. Awww, another shimmering string of snapshots. Your stories develop in front of the reader, and your images live, shaking it like a Polaroid picture. Thanks once again.