Call me Ebenezer. I often refer to people from my past as ghosts. You know…the ones you haven’t seen or heard from in so long that all that remains is a distant, cloudy memory. In turn, when you do see or hear from them you’re just as startled as you perhaps would be having seen a real apparition. Ghosts.
The other day I received a message on a social networking site that read something along the lines of, “Where have you been hiding??? I haven’t seen you since…” blah, blah, blah. There is just something about those kinds of statements that truly gets under my skin. I mean, I haven’t been hiding anywhere. I’ve been working, living, and enjoying life like anyone else. Does my preference for privacy equate to hiding?
Despite my initial irritation, the bait had been casted, and a couple of days later, I bit. I responded with a cordial, “I haven’t been hiding. I’m still in Charlotte. Hope you’re doing well,” with every intention of leaving things at that. What do you know? I got a response the next day. Here’s what really got me.
His response was, “Guess I’ll be making a trip to Charlotte then.”
My guess is he won’t. At least not for the purposes of visiting me. This presumptuous response got me to thinking. Why is it that people make assumptions that you are the same person that they knew “way back when”? Is growth not an expected or anticipated thing?
Let’s say we did reconnect. Whatever it was that attracted me to him during the brief and forgettable stint we communicated way back in undergrad is probably long gone and buried beneath layers upon layers of maturation and development. Heck, I just recently learned who I really am myself! A woman I truly admire once told me that sometimes we’re busy being who we think we need to be rather than being who we really are. I’m pretty sure I was doing the former when he “knew” me, so I can’t say that he’d be as in tune with the woman I am now.
Secondarily, I began to wonder what would make him think I’d be interested in seeing him. Was it the fact that my last name was still the same on my profile? Women get married and don’t change their last names all the time. Nothing on this professional/work-oriented site mentioned anything about my personal life. I could just as easily be in a long-term relationship. I’m not, but that’s not the point. Was it the fact that I even responded to his original message? People respectfully respond to old college buddies all the time, right? Maybe not. Regardless, I have to say I found the entire situation quite annoying. Or maybe I’m just approaching that stage in my life where everything annoys me; a very viable explanation.
While I am flattered that this guy may have felt whatever he felt or thought whatever he thought upon coming across my profile, I think it’s safe to say that I learned my lesson about responding to ghosts. The delete button lives on the same keyboard as the others I used to respond to his message. As British writer Arthur Conan Doyle says, “Of all ghosts the ghosts of our old loves are the worst.”