After 9 years and 3 countries, I’m making the transition from expatriate to repatriate. It’s a brand new chapter with new stories to tell! I now come to you from the home of baseball and birthplace of Frank Sinatra— Hoboken, New Jersey.
Needless to say, I’ve got a lot of time on my hands. Under doctor’s orders not to bear a single ounce of weight on my injured foot, I am relegated to spending hours on my back with my leg propped up on pillows to reduce swelling. Before the accident, I would have told you I couldn’t think of anything more enjoyable than a few leisurely hours in my pajamas working away on the Internet as I binged watched the latest episode of Orphan Black. But after having spent most of the last six weeks doing nothing but these very activities, I doubt I will ever feel happy lounging in my pajamas again.
Now that the constant pain has subsided and I have emotionally come to terms with the difficult road ahead after a Lisfranc dislocation, I ought to be doing more than pacifying myself with a steady diet trash television and Facebook. I should use my time wisely and develop a couple more social media marketing classes to teach this fall. I could practice Spanish using the overpriced Rosetta Stone program I have opened exactly twice in four years. I could read the books beckoning me from the bedside table. With at least 1008 hours of nothing to do ahead of me, I could transform myself into the best read, completely bilingual, social media instructor in Singapore. I mean, really, who wouldn’t want to aspire to that?
But just as I cannot force the ligaments and joints being held together by screws to heal any faster, I am reluctant to tackle projects unless I feel inspired to do so. Maybe I am still a little down about what I am missing out on because of this injury. Perhaps my mind is too preoccupied with fears that I am not healing correctly or the possibility I might injure myself during the fragile days, weeks, and months to come. Who knows? I do know that I will get there. One day, I am going to wake up feeling energized and motivated to take part in meaningful activities, which require, if not physical stamina and two good feet, then at least a little brain power.
If a mind is a terrible thing to waste, then mine has melted into a cesspool of gray matter over the last few weeks. When you spend too much time alone, and without the distractions of a daily routine, it’s amazing what and, more importantly, who pops into your head. My uninspired mind suddenly feel electric as I reminisce about people from my past and ask myself the inevitable question: Where are they now? With hours to kill, no fewer than three computers in arms reach and some fast fingers, you know what happens next… I turn to “the Google.”
Don’t be judgmental. You know you’ve done it, too.
As I let my fingers do the walking, I try to tell myself that what I am doing is not cyber stalking. My motives are neither impure nor nefarious. I’m not running off to join Anonymous. I’m not going “all Edward Snowden“ with what I uncovered, merely trying to quench my curiosity. Far from a cyber stalker, I see myself as a harmless Internet researcher trying to discover the latest details on people and events from my past who will firmly stay in my past.
It’s amazing what you can dig up in a matter of minutes. For example, after 10 minutes on Google and Facebook, I learned that an ex from 25 years ago still lives in South Carolina and attends a local Presbyterian church. Eight years after our demise, he married an elementary school teacher. She sells crafts on Etsy and recently joined an “Impeach Obama” Facebook group. The couple has two boys (both the spitting image of my ex) and seems otherwise normal and happy. Seeing this made me happy, too. I asked and “The Google,” told me that this fellow I had once known and shared a part of my life with in my teens and 20s eventually matured, found his way, settled down, and lives a comfortable life. As much as his happy ending satisfied my curiosity, it also gave me a sense of relief that his path didn’t end up being mine. I simply don’t have the talent or desire to sell crafts on Etsy.
After one successful search, I googled and googled. Some people from my past seemed to have less happy search results; others provided me sources of both bemusement and amusement. For example, I found another man from my past who has a digital alias similar to that of shamed Congressman Anthony Weiner’s “Carlos Danger”. Tell me that’s not funny!
After I exhausted all the possible search terms in my head, I eventually gave up my “Internet research” and moved on to another episode of Orphan Black. The idle mind may or may not be the devil’s playground, but a world without BBC America most certainly is.