We often talk about the Internet Age - and Facebook in particular, I suppose - regarding ways to reconnect with old friends we haven’t seen for many years. And it’s true, I have reconnected with many old friends I had thought lost to me forever.
But it’s still just as easy to lose an old friend in the maelstrom of of our daily lives, to wake up one day and suddenly realize an old friendship may have slipped away, and perhaps you should try to reach out somehow.
Kathryn Golly and I were friends in the mid-1980s, and our friendship lasted after she moved back to Oregon, and even worked in Saudi Arabia for a year.
She didn’t care for email, but she wrote long letters in beautiful handwriting.
I met Kathryn in 1984, when we both lived in a set of apartments on Church Street in Fayetteville. I had a sort of crush on her for a few weeks, admiring her from afar. Tall, brown - haired, out-doorsy looking, she just seemed, well, interesting - if you can use that word that word to describe someone you have never even spoken to.
One night I said to my friend, Bill Schmidt, “I’m going to introduce myself to that woman tomorrow.”
“Sure you are,” he said, long familiar with my ability to chicken out at the last minute in such matters.
The next morning I got up, made myself a pot of coffee, and looked out my kitchen window. The object of my interest was moving her furniture from her downstairs apartment to one upstairs - all by herself.
I didn’t even finish my cup of coffee before I ran down the stairs and offered my help.
We never really dated, though we went out a lot, even getting up at - what? - seven o’clock every morning to go running.
And then she was gone, back to Oregon.
Our friendship continued on through the years, me visiting her, she coming here, and then sort of petered off. People move, they change jobs, they marry.
A few months ago I suddenly got the urge to see how she was, and Googled her name.
You probably know where this has been heading.
Instead of an address, I found instead an obituary. Kathryn had died in 2007, after a short battle with a particularly nasty form of cancer.
As I read her obituary, I was struck by how much of her was left out. Only one place of employment in Oregon, and her Saudi Arabian experience were listed. It was as though it was another Kathryn entirely who had lived and worked in Arkansas.
It was brief and very much to the point. So brief that the Kathryn that I knew wasn’t there.
Kathryn liked the music of Tom Waits.
She was a producer at Fayetteville Open Channel in the 1980s.
She turned me on to Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz and Norman Mailer.
In the Paul Newman film, Sometimes a Great Notion, one of her relative’s l(also with the name of Golly) ogging trucks can be seen in the distance in one shot.
She had engaged in protests against logging.
She loved thunderstorms.
She lost a nursing job in Oregon when she slapped her supervisor. I thought this was one of the most wonderful things in the world when she told me about it, laughing, over the phone. I felt she had struck a blow for everyone who had ever had to work for a lousy boss.
She introduced me to the Pacific Ocean, and what a day that was!
She was somewhat eccentric, but all the best people are, I think.
She was my friend, and I loved her. Her obituary hit me like one those trees that I had seen falling in Oregon.
I spent too much time reading about the cancer that killed my friend.
There are things that I have forgotten to say here, to give you a little more of an idea of my friend’s life, but it’s the best I can do tonight, I think.
Goodnight, Kathryn. Sleep well.
Quote of the Day
Sometimes I wish I just had a summer job here. - John F. Kennedy (speaking to students working in Washington D.C.)