Sunday, July 29, 2012

33 Years Ago…

I met Kristie.  We had just moved to the United States from Taiwan in August 1979 and my parents enrolled me and my sister into grade school in Albany, California. On the first day of school for 4th grade, I was scared.  I didn’t speak English and was nervous to be in a new classroom with new kids I didn’t know.  My whole world was turned upside down after moving halfway around the world.  Midway through the first day of school, they came into my classroom to take me to my sister Joyce’s kindergarten class so I could comfort her.  She had been crying all morning.  She asked me “Why don’t they speak Chinese here?”  I felt bad for her but couldn’t help but start crying myself.  I was only nine years old myself, thrusted into a new environment in which I couldn’t understand anyone.

That is, anyone but Kristie.  She was in my class and she spoke some Chinese.  She helped me feel not so alone. 
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Kristie was my first friend in the United States.  My only friend for a while, until I learned English in a few months. 

We were together in Mrs. Saxton’s class in 5th grade again.
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And Mr. Bainbridge’s class at Albany Middle School in 6th grade.  (I can’t find my yearbook, or else I’d scan that class photo as well.) 

After 6th grade, we moved to Walnut Creek, CA, about 30 minutes away, and I never saw Kristie again.  This was in 1982 and nobody had email or internet.  I was too young to get all the contact info to stay in touch, and my parents were too busy to think about that.  We totally lost touch with each other for about 27 years. 

Until we found each other on Facebook one day a couple of years ago.  We got to know each other as adults.  We reminisced about our grade school days.  We talked about kids we used to know.  It’s been a great reconnection to my past that I thought I had lost.

About a month ago, Kristie messaged me and said she and her son were visiting her brother in San Diego.  She wanted to know where I lived, if it would be convenient to get together for dinner.  I looked up her brother’s address and realized he lived about 1.5 miles from me!  What a small, small world!  So on Wednesday night I went over and picked her up for dinner.  It was a reunion 30 years in the making.  On the way there, I was thinking about the moment and have to admit a couple of tears fell from my eyes.  How fantastic that I get to see my childhood friend again after 30 years!  I wondered how many people get to do that?  I wondered what Kristie is like as an adult woman with a 9-year old son?  Then I realized that when we met, we were the same age as her son now! 

I got there and re-introduced myself to her mom again.  I’m pretty sure I met her 33 years ago, but we all looked quite different back then, LOL.  I met Kristie’s son, and her brother and sister-in-law as well.  Then we headed to dinner at Spices Thai.  Todd met us there, because he works close to the restaurant.

We had some amazing Thai food.  There was green curry chicken.
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Penang halibut.
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And for the first time in my life, I ate some frog legs. (Tasted like chicken but a little bit chewier.)
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We had so much fun chatting and reminiscing about the long-ago past, while getting to know each other again as adults.
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We talked about how we used to play jacks in school.  We talked about some of our other friends from grade school that Kristie went to high school with.  She saw some of them at their high school reunion a few years ago. 

Kristie has turned out to be someone I could be friends with, even if we hadn’t been friends as kids.  I’m so glad we got to see each other again after such a long time had passed.  Facebook is an amazing tool for finding long-lost friends and reconnecting! 

8 comments:

  1. What a wonderful reunion. It's really amazing what current technology allows us to do. It must have been really frightening for you and your sister to attend a new school in a country where you could not communicate. I had a similar background. I grew up in the Richmond/El Cerrito area which is not far from Albany.

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  2. What a sweet story!! I'm from Walnut Creek, CA btw [though I moved away from there when I was 11]. That must've been hard moving to a new environment where you didn't speak the language!! And what your sister said, aww so cute and sad :( That's so nice you found a friend to make things easier for you!!

    Linda

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  3. What a great story! I'm so glad you were able to reconnect after all these years! :)

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  4. How awesome it is that you were there for your sister and that you could comfort each other on not just your first day of school, but your first day of school in a new country with a new language. And thank goodness for FB that you were able to reconnect with someone who was a kind, good soul and a great friend. Makes me smile.

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  5. That is totally cool! Times like that - I love Facebook!

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  6. So glad you were able to connect with such a special friend! I've been able to connect with a cousin that lives in Seattle that I haven't seen for decade. But through the computer, we can see each other's families and share our stories.

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  7. Cool story. Facebook is annoying but great for connecting with people.

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