A Friend is Gone…somewhere

In this age of global communication, we are not as firmly connected as we like to think. I have a friend, John, that I met over forty years ago, in England. He was a HM Customs and Excise inspector at RAF Mildenhall, and we lived in the BOQ together. He was a Geordy, from Newcastle, and about five years older than me. In the normal course of things, he was reassigned to some port somewhere, and I came back to the US, and we lost track.

About five years ago, he sent me an email. He’d been playing the old Google game of “I wonder what happened to…” and my college website popped up. We reconnected, and have emailed back and forth every couple of months since then. He was retired and, as one is able to do when living Over There, was spending his time taking trips to different countries — a week on the beach in Spain, a couple weeks in a pension in France, a quick out-and-back on the hovercraft to the winter fair in Hamburg. I’ll be able to do the same thing when I retire — a week in Port Angeles, a day trip to Missoula (if the passes are open).

I last heard from him in July, when he was getting ready to move to a new, smaller house. Since then, nothing.

Today, I sent him an email, and it bounced back, saying the account had been disabled. Wurra, wurra. Does he have a different ISP? Not likely, since it’s a dialup and he hasn’t moved that far. Has he died? He has had some medical issues, and one topic of our discussions has been how much better the UK NHS is than the US system. Since he’s moved, his home address has changed, so snail mail might not get through.

This isn’t a cry to help me find a lost friend. It’s a comment on how fragile our supposed links are with each other. I could do the seven-degrees-of-separation thing, but right now, I think I’ll just try a letter.

UPDATE: He’s fine, he’s just transferred ISP’s, and in doing so ran into the horrific UK telecommunications system (deets when I get them). How did I find him? He’s on Skype. I just plugged in the old email and up popped his name. We’ve been S-chatting a couple of times now. See, we are better connected.

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