Thursday, February 07, 2013

As Chinese New Year approaches, a lot of works seen, but first mention must be made of a distressing occurrence.

A while ago, i was contacted by my friend Alan, who is now in Australia; he'd signed up for LinkedIn, and wanted to add me to his network. I've always avoided LinkedIn, but because it was Alan, i signed on. And LinkedIn is one of those social/professional media networks which plows through and links you to your contacts. I've lost track of how many people are now in my LinkedIn network, but quite a few are people i haven't seen in decades who wound up being suggested as connections.

And every so often, i've tried to put together information and locate some of the people who were important in my life, and so i went to look for someone i knew in college...

I knew he had been teaching at a university in the South, and when i looked for him, i found out he had died two years ago.

I was crushed. I read the obituaries that were published in the newsletters of the university. It seems like he had done a wonderful job as a teacher. What i found so amazing was that his field of study was African history, specifically Senegal. He had gone there after graduating from Columbia University (in 1976), and then spent two years with the Peace Corps, where he'd been assigned to Senegal. He got to know the country, and became part of village life there. But when he was at Columbia, his major had been English literature and Art History.

Sometime in 1981, he called. By that time, Larry and i had moved to Soho. He was en route to Senegal, where he was going to complete his research: he was getting a PhD in History, his specialty being West Africa. We went out to dinner, and as he was leaving, he told me he was engaged and hoped to get married when he returned to the States. And i remember that the last thing i said to him was, ""Be happy."

Even though we moved to Brooklyn, we kept our old phone number, having switched our number to a digital service. One reason we did that was because there were always people who knew our number, and i always hoped that some of those people would eventually call.

I guess i was hoping that this person would call.

But now i know that will never happen.

One thing: i do wonder what happened, because the obits mentioned that he was survived by a large family of siblings and nieces and nephews, but no mention of a wife (or an ex-wife).

It was a shock, to find out he had died.