Posted: 28/01/2011 by C. Matt Hewes in Bits 'n' Bobs
Tags: , , , , , ,

Lately, say, the last twelve months, I’ve noticed I’ve been thinking a lot about the past. My past… I’ve started looking for people I knew in my late teens, and more so from my past in the Navy, wondering what they’re up to in this time of their lives… Do I miss the Navy? Hell yes! As much as I did the first day I walked out the gates, now almost 29 years ago. Let it be understood that I love my current life to bits, but would H.M. Navy not have sent me home, I’d never have left…

When I left the Navy in ’82, there was no such thing as the Internet, or smart phones or anything of that kind. Sure, telephone numbers were exchanged, and addresses, but even making an ‘interlocal’ phone call was like having an arm or leg cut off, financially. Visiting mates was an option but when you’re just done sailing ’round the world, you can’t be arsed getting on a train or bus to go to the other side of the country, only to have to get back on it, to make your way back home.

So, more often than not, the telephone numbers and addresses are ‘safely stored’. In the back of a drawer… And then of course, there are the house moves and spring cleaning sessions and what not; they don’t do those little pieces of paper an awful lot of good either… I still have my cabin mates’ addresses, written on a bourgondy coloured linen napkin, nicked in some (Chinese) restaurant in Indonesia or thereabouts. Just don’t ask where it is… I know it’s in the house… somewhere.

Is it to do with getting older? I don’t feel that old yet; be honest, fifty is the new forty, yes? Why is it that the urge to find ‘my past’ only crops up now, rather than when I was, say, thirty-five or something? Or, could this all be triggered by the realisation of ‘us oldies’ getting more (and more) ailments? I have noticed that ever since I’ve had my heart attack, now over five years ago, I’ve become more of a sentimental old poop than I ever was… No need to panic, I ain’t steppin’ out yet, and with my daily dose of drugs (medication, that is, not speed…), I’m probably healthier than most Joe Bloggs’s in the street. But that’s all a complete different story; back to topic, please.

Funnily, with today’s options (FaceBook, Hyves et al) I have actually found several of the people I used to ‘hang out with’ on a daily base. Honesty demands me to say that no, I don’t spend hours on end everyday to communicate with them. Just a quick, silly note every now and again, just to let them know I’m still around. Let it be clear that I don’t add them to my ‘circle of friends’, just to show off the amount of friends I might have… I only ‘befriend’ people I really know; I don’t have the urge to know their every move; I don’t have to know what (or who) they had for breakfast (think ‘Twitter’ -don’t do Twitter- and ‘FaceBook’). Not interested. Nor do I flood my friends with my daily activities or any other infrmation; I don’t think it adds any value them knowing that I went for my repeat prescription, or that I like Renault, or little Boo on FaceBook.

But… BUT…! Then why add them to my friends on the Social networks? My answer: To have ‘my past’ a little closer. The people I call my Friends on those sites, really were my close friends at some point in my life! I appreciated their opinions, their presence, the conversations we had, the experiences we shared, good or bad… We shared a relatively small piece of Earth together, lived our lives next to one another, twenty-four-seven. That’s why I gladly add them to my circle of friends, even if we don’t come together every thursday eve for a game of poker, or to watch a game of footie. Then again, I don’t need to see my friends for them to be my friends… don’t know ’bout you but that’s how I am.

“So where does this urge, to have your past closer, come from?” you might ask. Simples: I’ve been a tramp most of my life; tramp in the good meaning of the word. Even though I didn’t move house seventy times in my life, I did make some significant moves in my life.I moved from the provincial town to the Adventurous World of the Navy aged 18 (and nine days), only to never move back to my home town when I left. Coming out of the Navy, I moved to Rotterdam, a cosniderable Metropole in Holland, and from Rotterdam to the UK (albeit to a provincial town, still the UK). Three significant moves in my life, none of them regretted though. With every individual one of these three moves, bits of my past dwindelled away; got lost for whichever reason, in whichever way… I’m not putting the blame on anyone, mind. It just happened.

Anyway, the main thing is that, by ‘having them close(r) to me’, I feel like I have found pieces of my past back.

What says you; am I a sentimental old poop, or does it make sense, what I’ve penned down here…?

  1. Rob says:

    I also went through a period like this a few years back when I used the internet to find old navy buddies I had served with in Vietnam. I served aboard the guided-missile destroyer U.S.S. Lawrence DDG-4, originally out of Norfolk, Virginia. I was able to contact a few of my old sea mates, and we stayed in touch for awhile. Every year there’s a reunion of the ship’s crew, but the ship itself has ceased to be; though I understand the bridge from the ship is in some museum in Philadelphia. I keep meaning to go to one of those reunions, but I always end up missing it.

  2. K. A. Jordan says:

    My family and friends from ‘back home’ scattered to the winds in the 1980’s. I left ‘home’ in 1992, knowing that I would not return very often. So, for me, social networking is about finding the lost and the scattered.

    It is comforting to be able to touch base without traveling hundreds or thousands of miles. They say that the internet has made people isolated – but I have never felt so ‘in-touch’ with so many people in my life.

  3. Lilian says:

    I’ve lived all my life within a three-mile radius of where I was born in South Birmingham, UK. Because I’ve been a teacher in various schools in the city for the last 35 years I have known a lot of people who have moved away and on to ‘pastures new’. The joys of social networking have reunited me with former colleagues and with many former pupils who, as adults, have looked me up and made contact. The effect of this is to make me feel as if I contributed something of value to their lives. I love it that they choose now to share their success stories or their sorrows with me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s