I might be insane. As a matter of fact, I’m convinced I am. But I’m doing it anyway.
There are people who come in and out of your life. Some you forget quickly, but there are some who make an impression, who you’ll remember forever, even though you only really knew them for a short while. I have one such *impressive* friend from over a decade ago. I’ve completely lost touch with her since we parted ways over 11 years ago. Her name is Wesley Bender. At least, it was back then.
I think I’m insane because 1) this is so out of the blue, 2) this is a rather uncharacteristic thing to do (I feel like I tend to keep my feelings about and relationships with my friends and its specifics rather private – at the very least, I certainly don’t broadcast them out to the world as I feel like I’m doing here…though I’m sure Clay Shirky would argue otherwise), and 3) who the hell would want to read what I write here – a personal search – anyway?
With the normalization of Internet use and social networking sites, we rely more and more on these new technologies and systems to keep us in touch with our friends. With Facebook, I never feel like I would ever be out of touch with any of my friends – that I could reach them with a quick search of my “friends” list and send them a message or write on their wall if I need to get a hold of them. Wesley is not on Facebook. At least, if she is, she’s hidden from my searches (which I do as well). We have virtually no mutual friends that I still keep in touch with (except for Chia-Shing, but at last check, she didn’t have Wesley’s contact info), and a search on Google for “Wesley Bender” yields more irrelevant searches than for me to have much faith in that.
It’s a bit like a scavenger hunt. To find my friend. And I’m going to document it (at the same time, wondering how many people will actually read this) – for fun, for the hell of it, for academic research purposes (I’m quite serious about this one actually – seeing how the Internet has changed and eased (?) how we get certain types of information), because it’s summer and I have some time on my hands…or maybe with the possibility that this may connect me back with her somehow in some convoluted, indirect way. The latter one is probably a pipe dream, but what the hell.
I’m doing this because exploring how digital media and the Internet puts us in a field of greater connectivity and knowledge is really interesting to me, and I myself wonder what the avenues and resources I can use to achieve my goal. I think blogging all of this would be interesting. It’d be worthwhile. Also, I think it’ll be amusing how stalkerish a lot of this is going to come out sounding…
On one hand, I’m doing this for academic interests – almost like a case study, but I’m also (mostly) doing this because I miss my friend. If it takes me the time of one post to find Wesley, I’d be more elated than if I come up with a great story to document here, and all the mishaps, miscommunications, and misunderstandings that will no doubt come with it.
Here’s a bit of history and some more information:
Wesley and I met at a Piano Performance Workshop the summer of 1998 at UT Austin. We were both accepted into this intensive music summer program – a program with students from all over the country (and some from overseas too, I think). The two people to whom I was closest were Chia-Shing, my roommate (who made me Ramen for breakfast at least twice a week), and Wesley. Wesley and I bonded over marching band. Other than piano, she also plays cello and, I believe, the French horn. She was also a drum major. I still keep in touch with Chia-Shing (she’s on Facebook, but we had kept in touch over email, IM, and other means for the last decade), but Wesley had completely disappeared from my scope of consciousness.
We spoke on the phone a few times after the Workshop, sent each other snail mail letters occasionally, exchanged senior pictures. I know she went on to study music at Texas Christian University (TCU). She’s from Texas – San Angelo. That really was the last time I heard from her. I somewhat recall trying to get her on the phone sometime during college, and her having a hard time remembering who I was, which, you know, made me kinda sad, but that memory is REALLY hazy, and sometimes I wonder if that really happened at all.
Tonight, I found her piano professor, a Professor Harold Martina, who still teaches at the School of Music at TCU. Found that Professor Martina was her professor through a notification of her senior recital in 2004. And that came up as a result of googling “Wesley Bender TCU”.
One more note – I also signed up for Classmates.com, and I think I signed up accidentally for the TCU network…because her Classmates.com site was one of the results on Google. Sent a private message, but I think there’s a subscription cost involved if I actually want the message to get sent.
Will try emailing Professor Martina this week.
So here I go. Wish me luck. Suggestions and advice are welcome.