I have been actively using Facebook for almost 3 years now. I originally opened an account to locate classmates from my Eastern 1988 alumni class. We were searching out ways to connect with this class for future reunions. I took it upon myself to locate as many classmates as I could. That research led me to Facebook, where a group of about 10 classmates had joined this new on line networking site. I began sharing through emails that I had started a group on Facebook specifically for our alumni class. We steadily grew to over 100 within months. As more friends came on line more groups were formed, I soon found myself included in groups for Gier Park, my elementary school; Otto, my junior high school; Eastern, my high school and even a specific group of people who grew up on the north side of Lansing generally from the mid 1970’s to 1980’s called North Side Old Timers. Recently Facebook upgraded its group format. The new formatting of these groups now post updates more clearly. There will be a notification letting me know that someone from my group has put something on the “wall”. There is also a function to open chat windows and communicate with anyone in the group that is online at that time. In the last week I have been inundated with communication from people I went through school with; passing virtual notes, without the fancy folding, back and forth. With some of these people it feels uninterrupted, like twenty years hasn’t passed since we rode the bus together, walked to class side by side, or laughed hysterically at some ridiculous inside joke.
Today I walked another chunk of the neighborhood I grew up in. And much like falling into rhythms with childhood friends on Facebook, walking the streets and neighborhoods that bore my steps day after day and year after year, felt like putting on a well-worn favorite coat. As I walked I felt a comfortable familiarity. It’s like knowing you can automatically get into grandma’s refrigerator for a snack without asking for permission. You feel like it’s yours. I felt like these were my neighbors all in homes I’ve known for so many years. Each car that passed by was someone I knew I knew. I didn’t, but it felt like I could or that I should. The smiling faces of children playing matched almost too perfectly with the face of a thirty year old memory I’ve cherished of a child just about their age. I have in me the history of being a north side girl. It is who I am. I have always been a part of this group, and many others. It’s extremely interesting to me that it’s taken an online program that can organize people in such a way that they naturally form the groups that are significant to them. I feel honored to be part of some amazing groups with amazing people who I still call friends.
On this walk I was joined by the sweet and lovely Rebecca Eldridge. I thank her for her complete support of City Saunter and Lansing. I also greatly appreciate the opportunity she gave me to share some of my north side stories with her.