Making Connections These Days

PIECES OF PAPER

I’m always writing things down—important things—on little tiny pieces of paper. And then I lose them.

This morning, I became uncomfortably aware of how many I’d accumulated, in scattered places; my purse, on top of my dresser, in my coat pocket. Gathering them into one pile, then going through them at my desk, I saw that they all contained contact information for various persons I’d met and wanted to see again.

“I’ll email them all right now!” I thought, with a burst of resolution.

On the top piece, a corner of lined notepaper, some stranger had written “Joyce White.” I waited for my brain to make sense of it. Joyce White? I tried to recall recent excursions: a trip to Glenwood Springs, a weekend writers conference. Nothing.

Just a fluke, I thought, and proceeded to the next, brown magic marker on back of my business card. Fay Dunkin. It stirred a vague memory which refused to coalesce. Did I meet her at my local library, where I often start conversations? For the life of me, I couldn’t say.

I felt vastly encouraged when a name on the third piece of paper—Karen Frank—brought a face to mind. Together, we’d waited for the delayed train from Glenwood to Denver. I’d learned that she and her husband raised goats and missed San Francisco. I had liked her enormously.

But the next four names drew blanks, and now I had to face facts: the memory of why I’d written down six individuals’ names was gone. I felt disoriented, even a little depressed. And this was not me.

What I’m used to feeling is, age doesn’t matter, I can still do it. What I’m used to saying is, I’ll figure it out. I take Zumba; but stay for just half the class. Instead of working all day and night, like did with my first book, I now write in the morning. If I can’t nail a name or fact as easily as my younger self did, there is Google right there to help.

Except here, there was no help. I felt a loss that these potential connections would never happen.

But then I thought of a solution. After I emailed Karen Frank, I would write the others and say: “Hi, (Joyce/Barbara/ Fay/etc), I have your email right here and want to stay in touch. It was nice meeting you! How are you?”
Hopefully, the return email would give me a hint.

A few hours later, I got a message back from … Joyce White! “Thanks for writing! I really enjoyed talking to you at the Mystery Writer’s dinner … Hope to see you again and have more delicious conversation.”
Yes! The Mystery Writers Dinner two weeks ago! I’d sat next to Joyce, a delightful, fascinating woman.

The other responses weren’t as helpful. Fay wrote, “Thanks for asking! Life is good!” I still had no idea who she was, or “Langley,” who said, “Hi back. Too busy to write.”

I had to laugh. And then I had to think.

My older brain needs more structure than my younger brain did to connect the dots. But my older self—here’s the paradox—is better at making people connections. I’m finally comfortable in my own skin and thus, I’m more interested in others, more ready to feel real affection.

So I am really going to try—a belated New Year’s resolution—not to stuff little pieces of paper in my jeans and hope for the best. I’m going to carry a notebook in my purse, and when I meet someone I like, take a smidge more time to jot down some identifying data. I’ve learned: connections are precious.

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