I saw a friend from way back earlier tonight. One of the first things she asked me was why I never emailed her. In fact, I had emailed her a few days ago, using a new email address, and I had already hit send before I realized that she may not recognize the new name. She was one of the people who knew me by the old name, the one I’d discarded in favor of my maiden name, now hyphenated with my husband’s last name.
But back to my old friend. We had lost touch with each other shortly after the first time we had met, but I kept track of her career. It was difficult not to, as she had become someone to reckon with in her chosen profession. I, on the other hand, had long abandoned the path that I once thought was the right one for me, and had instead stumbled into what I had been doing for the past nine years. She asked me what I was doing for a living. I told her I usually crawled under tables to sort out network cables, which is why I was dressed the way I was, polo shirt and slacks and the omnipresent Targus backpack, silver hoop earrings being the only concession to vanity. She, on the other hand had lost a considerable amount of weight and looked very good, a fact that I should have pointed out to her, but I guess she knew that already.
She wondered aloud why very few women wrote about the I.T. industry, and pointed out the fact that most of the commenters on her blog are men. As I did know her from way back, it didn’t occur to me until much later that perhaps women were intimidated by her, being one who never failed to speak her mind against anything, especially herself.
She said she was not at all comfortable with the obvert adulation some people shower on her. I told her she’d been famous for almost 10, 15 years surely she’d have become used to it by now, but she said no, lavish praise — especially the written kind, on her blog — still embarrased her. This was when I realized that she had stayed young, and perhaps was still even awed by the fact that doing something she was quite good at had turned her into a household name. No jaded Jessica she was, to me, no matter how she may paint herself thus in many of her articles.
She autographed the magazine / anthology that was launched that afternoon, making me promise not to tell anyone how long ago we first met, and after she affixed her mirror-image signature on the inside front cover, I bussed her cheek and said goodbye. I told her I’d email her, and I told her about this blog, which she promised she’d visit.
I took a cab home soon after, and on the rainy drive home I thought perhaps I should resuscitate my long dormant writing career. Yeah, right, as if I had the time to do that. But what the heck, maybe I do have the time, it’s just that saying that I didn’t have the time to write was the easy way out of things. But seeing her again made me think of what I could have become had I kept at it—no not famous like you, Jessica—but doing something that I used to do a long time ago. I was obligated to, back then, things being the way they were. But maybe this time I could start writing again, this time because I want to.