My daughter's gotten it into her head that she wants to visit a "friend". I put that in quotes because this is not really a friend of hers, but in fact a house where my wife once interviewed for a babysitting job. Maybe it was more nannying. That's not important right now.
What is important to the story is that we have no idea who this person is or what her daughter's name was. We have a couple slight recollections, but nothing that would get us anywhere near their house, and have I mentioned, we don't even know these people?
We think she might have dreamed about the house and now wants... we're not sure what. Weird kid.
So we're laying on the bed last night trying to get her aimed towards sleep and she's obsessing over visiting these people. And we've explained over and over that we simply can't. She doesn't like that answer, though, so she talks and talks.
Finally, I say: "You know, honey, everyone has these kinds of things..." I tell her a story about some people we lived with way back when I was four or five. And how their daughter Lori took me to a teepee they'd made in the woods, and how I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. How I think that deep down inside, a small part of me is looking for that teepee when I ride on trails in the woods. But that I have no idea where these people live or if her name is even Lori.
My wife tells her about how when she was little she'd always threaten to run away and go live at Kristen's house, and how now she can't even remember that girl's last name.
"See, Honey," I say, "everyone has these places they remember but can't go back to".
I don't tell her about how as you get older, some places you can remember just fine, but the places are gone. Like the old drive-in sign that was on the way to our local movie theater, at the top of a hill above a vacant field. The sign is gone. The hill is gone. But New Castle has a Super Wal Mart and a Sears.
Or the bike shop I worked in as a teenager. It's kind of still there. But two doors down. And owned by different people. And none of the same workers are there. A special place, that's simply gone. People I couldn't begin to find.
Facebook gives us the illusion, and in rare cases the actual reality, that we can re-find these people. Really, it makes us feel that we can either recapture or rewrite the past. It's a good illusion. It gives closure to some people who really need it. Sure there are odd downsides, but in its own way, it alleviates the kind of situation the kid is just now feeling for the first time.
Both the good and the bad of the Social Network are involved in one key fact: time passes. You can never stop or reclaim time. We learn that the shallow jerk who was mean to us in high school has changed, grown up, moved on. Or maybe stayed the same. But at least we know. They aren't stuck just as they were. By the same measure, though, when we find our friends from long ago, lo and behold, they've moved on with their lives, too. We'd have never said this out loud, but we each wish, hope and maybe assume that they've been sitting on their hands every day, out on their front porch, just waiting for us to come back into their lives. WHAT?! That old boyfriend has a wife? And kids? But... I mean... sure, so do I, but I at least thought they'd wait for me. Even though we (they) explicitly said that's exactly what they would not do.
Every day I learn deeper and deeper, more and more, how much I truly worship myself. I joke and laugh with my wife (who has three older siblings) how in fact I do think I'm the center of the universe. But I continue to learn how deeply I actually believe this. When I wrestle (I'm half joking) with my daughter for control of the computer as we're playing a zoo-creation game "together". And a hundred different ways.
Romans 7:22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?