Friday, May 04, 2007

Whatever happened to . . .

You know this mood. It's when some old friend crosses your mind and you wonder, "I wonder where so-and-so is? What are they doing these days?"

A few years ago I was reading a newspaper article about Doctors Without Borders and ran across a familiar name in the middle of it. I wondered at the time if it was someone I went to high school with--a good friend (very briefly a boyfriend). It would have been exactly the kind of work the boy I knew would have invested himself in and the perfect way to put his scholarship to Stanford to work (he always did make brilliance look easy). So last night, in this mood, I did a search with his name and the name of the organization together and found that he worked for them in a non-medical capacity for several years and is now a volunteer spokesperson, traveling as recently as April to several different states giving talks. A little more sleuthing (okay, more than a little--I didn't sleep well) and I was rewarded with a picture. Even if I didn't recognize anything else about him after twenty-plus years, I would know that wide grin anywhere.

A little more digging, based on a clue given by a newspaper reporter, turned up where he's living now. Another newspaper, local to his whereabouts, did a write up on him, answering the last of my questions: whether he was married (he's not), what he does for a living and so on. He's a fire chief of a largely volunteer fire department and a very popular figure there. He's credited with pulling the town together for fire safety trainings for kids, home fire drills, volunteer trainings and community movie nights. Being him, as I remember him anyway, he's very understated about it. "I'm a movie buff. I just pick out something I like, invite everybody to come and watch it with whoever shows up." "Whoever" sounds like better than half the town. When asked if he was bored with his job after all his world travels, he replied, "If it was any more exciting, it wouldn't be what it is and that's why I like it here. All our problems are small and easy to solve--eventually, the cat comes down out of the tree." One of the town's people commented that it's difficult to get him to take a day off. I can see why.

Being a storyteller at heart, I am moved to fill in the blanks: why he never married, my own images of the town he lives in and the people he sees every day. I would love more real facts, but short of intruding, which I never ever do even at my most curious, I am left with my own version of things, which I'd probably like better anyway. I hope he doesn't mind becoming the subject of a story at some point, because it deserves to be told, even if most of it's fiction.

For now he's safe. I am just over half-way through my manual edits on Trouble_Waters. I've spent every free minute with it today and will continue to work tomorrow. I'm running a little behind schedule thanks to working on the house, but should put a sizeable dent in it this weekend.

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