Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Pleasant Surprise

Today brought an unexpected, but pleasant surprise. I received an email from Lisa, a former girlfriend, and someone I have not seen in nearly 20 years. She didn't offer much detail, just a "hello, remember me?" kind of note. She found my email address on the company website.

Here is the email:

"I'm sorry to bother you at work. I was on campus this Sat. for class and I
walked by the hall where we would have those meetings-it prompted me to
remind myself to search google for any movies that you may have produced- I
had conferences this week, a kind of enforced reflection time, so I put your
name in search and...20 years is a long time! You may not remember me, but I
wanted to say "hi."

Lisa was very special. An attractive girl of scandinavian heritage, tall, thin, with beautiful golden blonde hair and a modest personality. The first time I saw her was in an astronomy class at the University of Minnesota. I would sit as close to her as possible, hoping for a chance to be her lab partner (never happened), or in the hopes of lending her a pen (also never happened). One night at a fraternity party, I saw her again, and gathered up enough courage to talk with her. After that we dated off and on, eventually separating when I graduated and moved to Atlanta to take a job. I remember her as a very kind person. She was the kind of person who would stop on the street to talk with a homeless person, wanting to know in earnest if there was anything she could do to help. And she was great with children. She was the kind of person who would always do the right thing, and I hope she still is. If she is a mother, I am sure she is a great one.

Over the years, I had often wondered what had become of her, just as I have wondered about other people I had been close to. There are other people whose fates I would like to know. But are we better off not knowing? There is a danger in being too curious, of holding on to tightly to the past, especially if one begins to lament would could have been. Godspeed to the people who have passed me by (or vice versa). I wish you all well on your own life's journey. I'm sorry if I hurt you, and I forgive you if you had ever hurt me.

For me, things have always worked out for the better -- even during times when the pain was very real and stayed a very long time, in the end, it always has worked out for the better. I have missed out on many opportunities, only to discover a new opportunity just over the horizon. If I had made different decisions 20 years ago, my life might be much different than it is right now. Perhaps I would have married Lisa eventually. But then again, I like things the way they are, I love my wife and the children in my life, and I wouldn't change my current situation for anything.

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