Facebook is really great for reconnecting with old friends and finding out what your buddies are up to. What it is also great for: shattering every illusion you ever had about your first love–just like it did for me this weekend.
I first spotted Jeremy when I was a sixth grade student at a public magnet school in Fort Worth, Texas. He looked exactly like Jay Underwood, the guy who played Tia’s loser boyfriend Bug in “Uncle Buck,” which is to say that he was incredibly hot. I never spoke to him — NEVER — but I rode the hour each way to school with him every day. And, it turned out, his mom was my English teacher. She was firm, but friendly — and she was my only link to the strange but beautiful creature that was her son. Sometimes I would stick around after class to see if he would stop by.
I never spoke to Jeremy, until the very last day I lived in Texas. My dad is a nuclear engineer, and growing up we moved a round a lot — from nuclear power plant to nuclear power plant. I used to joke that we were the modern-day Joads (a joke that only works if you are a Grapes of Wrath fan). We were moving from Ft. Worth to New Jersey, and I finally worked up the courage to tell Jeremy how I felt. I wrote him a letter telling him how interesting and unique I thought he was. I told him I was moving but that I’d like to write letters to him, if he wanted. I slipped the notebook paper to him as I was getting off the bus on my final interminable ride home.
Three weeks later, I was settling into my new house in suburban New Jersey when I got my first missive from Jeremy. His scrawly boy handwriting covered three pages. He started telling me all about himself, about his artistic aspirations and joys. He drew me pictures and we even worked on a book together, trading pages and notebooks back and forth. We wrote for several years. We spoke on the phone often. This was the time before email — well before Facebook and Skypeing — so we had to wait to get each other’s letters. Each day, I would walk down to the mail box in anticipation.
Eventually, we fell out of touch. Like, way out of touch. I tried looking him up a few times, but because he has a really common name –and shares a name with a celebrity — it was nearly impossible to find him. Plus, since we lost touch before either of us went to college, I didn’t have much information to go on.
This weekend, I tried again. It turns out my internet stalker skills have gotten much better. I was able to find Jeremy’s mother’s first name, and find her Facebook page. Through that, I found him. And oh boy, I wish I didn’t.
Gone was the super sensitive artistic guy I remembered. My first love was now a Tea Partyin’, right-wingin’ conservative. As I looked at his Facebook page, my stomach turned. Where I had pursued those creative paths we had talked about when were teens, he had pursued punditry. His Facebook page was littered with extreme right-wing rhetoric, flag imagery and, oh, he had even self-published an anti-gay novel about the firestorm of drama that’s bound to occur now that gays are allowed to openly serve in the military. On his Facebook page, he justifies writing the book, saying, “My goal is to reinstitutionalize God-loving, America-loving, wholesome books for thoughtful readers.” And you better believe there’s a Ronald Reagan quote on there, too. This guy isn’t just tipping his toe in the conservative waters; he IS the conservative waters.
What happened to the fun, adorable boy I used to spend hours on the phone with?
In any case, I’m glad I didn’t hold out hope that we’d be reunited and fall madly in love, because that’s obviously not going to happen. But I’m mad that my own curiosity led me to find out that my first love is now a first-class a-hole.
Have you ever found out someone from your past is now not at all who you remember?