Friday, June 25, 2010

The Address Book

Every now and then, there's no avoiding it: I have to straighten out my e-mail address book. Otherwise, chaos ensues, and chaos is never a welcome partner before the 14th cup of coffee.

For instance, even though I have my e-mail controls set on "Die Spam Die!", some junk addresses do sneak through. Sometimes, I accidentally make duplicate entries (usually before that critical 14th cup of coffee). Names need to be straightened out, extra information added, and various private notes that I keep on the proclivities of my family and friends must be noted.

That last part is none of your business, so I don't know why I mentioned it.

Anyway, it's usually a tedious process during which my mind wanders to places like the Cafe 200 in Newport, where the pizza used to be really good. I haven't been there in a while, so I don't know if they've managed to find a way to ruin a perfectly good thing. That such a thing keeps happening is partial proof of the conspiracy that haunts me, people who are trying to drive me insane by making my favorite things disappear. Heaven forbid I should decide that I like a new brand of cookie; the next time I try to buy them, they've disappeared from every swutting store in town. Ah, yes.... a few slices of Cafe 200's best with a bottle of Chianti on the side.... much better to think about than what is essentially work.

Until I got to my friend Carol.

There is was, the entry that contained her e-mail address and other personal information. I stopped and considered it, returning from the cafe in Newport and giving my full attention to the name then highlighted. You see, Carol died very recently, and my thoughts turned to her. A bright, funny and interesting person whom I met at a local theatre, at which she was a volunteer and eventual Board member. Always positive, a great stage manager, capably taking care of things that nobody else wanted to do. She was a retiree who used to teach at a university on Guam. There were stories that we never got out of her about her adventures on Guam, possibly because we never bought her enough drinks to draw the tales out. Then again, I don't particularly remember seeing her with a drink in her hand. I guess she was always more interested in what was going on at the time, not being the type to spend a lot of time looking back. She was a kind person, who always had just a hint of a smirk on her face, suggesting that she knew more than she was telling you, a quality that I generally love as long as I personally am let in on the game. Which she never did.

I looked wistfully again at the name, and wished that I'd known her just a bit better. "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" wrote Joni Mitchell. Actually, we knew she was sick for some time before she passed away, so it's not like we didn't have warning. However, being a real trouper, she simply continued with what she liked to do for as long as she could. I hope I'm brave enough to do the same if I find myself in a similar circumstance. I suppose that she didn't want to be treated like glass by her friends in the remaining days that she had. I can understand that.

And there was her name, reminding me.

I thought about it for a few minutes, sifting through the many memories of good times with her, and briefly considered just leaving it there as a reminder that I might come across now and again to jog my memory. However, in the end, I changed my mind and deleted it. I couldn't write her again, and perhaps the room in the C section (pun intended) for something active like the Cafe 200.

More important than that, though, is the question posed thusly: What kind of trigger do you want to remind you of someone? I decided than an electronic entry on my computer was a trivial way to treat her. Rather, when I sift through my collection of theatre programs and come across plays at that theatre, especially the ones that we were both involved in, I'd be much better reminded of her, and the good times. Other than consciously remembering a person who has gone from our presence (which is the best way), I think that finding ways to remind yourself of the best of times is the way to go. I find that I miss people somewhat less that way. That may seem odd, since remembering the best of times can make you more melancholy, but I prefer to look at it as a comforting pathway to a feeling of having been fortunate to have the person in my life.

Call me old-fashioned, but in this age of electronics, there are simply some things that shouldn't be computerized. Never mind the fact that I'm writing this in an electronic medium.... it's a convenient way to pay a little tribute to a nifty person that you otherwise would never have known about. As for myself, I'll stick with older and more traditional methods of remembering Carol. So, out the file in my address book goes; dust in the wind compared to ties that bind more strongly.

So, goodbye for now, Carol. I hope to see you again some day. Thanks for everything, for all the thoughtfulness. Thanks for the pretty decent pots of coffee that you made. And blast you for never letting me in on what that little smirk was all about. Well, I suppose she has the last laugh there, leaving a bit of mystery behind her. Even now, as I remind myself of that, I laugh.

And that's a pretty good thing to have come to my mind first whenever I think of her.


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