I’m not writing about the UK general election tonight: everyone else has done it to death, and it’d be too late for me to influence anyone else anyway, even if I had any readers in this country to start with.
(However, I will say that those who think Corbyn’s Labour would roll us back to the 1970s should consider May’s Tories rolling us back to the 1870s, complete with workhouses for the poor… and disabled?)
No, instead I’ll talk about how I’m spending 2017 — the last year I can put a 3 in front of my age — looking back at things I’ve experienced. I know, I do that all the time (hence my “then and now” blog category), but this year I feel like I’m finally moving forwards properly, and I want to know what to take with me and what to leave behind.
I’m beginning this by replaying all the original Tomb Raider games. No, keep reading, I’m not just being dorky here, the first three take me back to the end of the 20th century! I played the second extensively on my roommate’s PS1 when I was in Michigan in 1998-9 (indeed, I was on the last level of the ocean-bottom shipwreck segment on that day), and the third in late 2000 after graduating (with a guidebook, as it’s tricky to find those secrets!), but somehow it’s the original that resonates with me the most. Aside from playing it in early 2000, when I should have been studying (though at that point I had little hope of a First), I also played it in Michigan during Christmas 1999, on my roommate’s family PC — so wandering the Egypt levels strangely made me feel just a little cold, as though it was snowing outside…
Barring problems relating to the authoritarian nature of both UK and US policy (I hope the CIA don’t read this blog!), I’ll be travelling to Michigan and meeting the family all over again, near the end of this month. I’d thought my visit back in 2014 would be the last time I ever saw Fenton (the chorus to the Eminem song “Legacy” echoing in my head), but in fact they stayed put instead of moving to Washington State. I’m visiting roomie’s younger brother once again, but this time I hope to communicate with roomie himself, and perhaps their little sister, via webcam — I haven’t seen either since 2007! Sadly, the dog I first met in 2003 and the cat I first met in 1998 are long gone, but the other dog I first met in 2006 should still remember me.
There’s someone else from Michigan I wish I could reconnect with, but I’ve never been able to find her on Facebook… no, not the girl from “that day” — I’m not completely living in the past, you know — but rather a female friend I made at UMich and stayed in contact with during the early 21st century, even meeting up with her when I visited Michigan in 2001. We e-mailed each other all the time, and even played online games of Jeopardy!, and I like to think we cheered each other up in those dark days.
It’s a shame we drifted apart, but she’s not the only “old friend” I’ve lost: despite getting back in touch with several old school chums thanks to Zuckerberg, some of the best friends I ever had have either not shown up, or ignored me completely. Naturally I won’t name names, but still, let this serve as a counterpoint to my list of bullies:
- “JE”, who was my best friend from almost the moment we moved to Surrey in 1985, and who I knew at school for around six years, still visiting him (or having him over) when I started going to private school, and having him visit us in Worthing two summers running (we saw Jurassic Park together).
- “CS”, who was a funny guy at my secondary school in Surrey, and whose nickname made him seem like a certain singer-turned-Muslim. Sad thing is, I probably annoyed him by calling him to reminisce when we moved to Worthing, but we used to have a good laugh during our days at that school, which (perhaps largely due to my following years in Worthing) I recall as the happiest of my teenage life.
- “MW”, who was my best friend throughout my time at secondary school in Worthing, and with whom I managed to stay in touch when I went to university, and after when I came back to Worthing; we even had a tradition of buying each other birthday presents in October/November which cost exactly the same! Sadly, I haven’t heard from him since coming to London, and he’s not acknowledged me on Facebook at all.
- “AS”, a dear friend and fellow Geology student during my undergrad days, who lived in my corridor in our freshman year and joined in playing cards every night; we did fall out at one point, but when I came back from my year away in Michigan, he was still there (doing a four-year version of my course), and we grew closer. He comforted me the day I found out my grandfather had died on the operating table, and I like to think I repaid him by helping him with his maths!
I know you can’t always go backwards and reconnect with your long-lost past, but these are people I wish I could show how far I’ve come since they knew me — I’m no longer the dorky loser I was back in, er, 1985 to 2003! — and thank, for helping me get through my formative years.
However, more than that, I want (at long last) to get back in touch with my father, from whom I hadn’t heard since 1988 (yes, nineteen eighty-eight, that’s not a typo!). My mother’s tried to help me find him, and he is indeed right there on Forces Reunited, but I can’t use that service as I’ve not been in the service (nice pun, eh?), and it’s just for ex-soldiers and the like (and also needs you to pay). However, one of my old school friends with whom I’ve been in touch via Facebook for years may be able to help me, as he served in the RAF and knows all the right sources to contact.
It’s a scary prospect, especially since my pap might have no interest in meeting me, but I want to take the chance and show him that I’ve done all right for myself, even if I’m not a military man, or even technically a man’s man. He advised me in that last letter to make sure I have a good job, and I think I’ve finally achieved that; if I can impress him with what I’ve achieved, I’ll feel like I’m ready to move on with my life and leave behind my childish angst.
Here’s hoping I can finally remember the face of my father…