Monday, October 17, 2005

Ghost Voice From The Past

I recently had one of those freaky “is it ever a small world” moments -- my life, of course, has been filled with them, which is always an interesting injection into one’s day, like a clear dose of déjà vu or some other moment that makes one wonder about the mystical connectors underlying the universe we believe that we understand.

Last week was a long and difficult one at work with several projects that had been launched going wrong wherever we turned. Because there was nobody in IT to take ownership and understand enough of the many diverse pieces for a recent gift card change, I did my best to step in (despite not really knowing all of it, I can sometimes be good at winging things -- hey, I’m a writer who has found himself in an IT support role for the critical element of Master Data for Canada’s largest book retailer, so if that doesn’t suggest I can “wing it”, I don’t know what can) For the gift card mess, I’d interfaced quiet a bit over the course of a few days with Heather (no, not Heather Reisman, the head of our company, another Heather, although she sits on the same floor at head office as our chief booklover) trying to keep her in the loop as the situation was unfolding.

I think I first met Heather Harkness perhaps 10 months or a year ago, and, over time, we’ve connected a few times, been in meetings together, worked in parallel on projects here and there. But until recently we hadn’t spoken with each other for more than a few sentences. Last week, though, we were joined at the phone. That, I think was the key.

It was near the end of another long day when we were establishing where we were with the whole mess when that bizarre moment hit. As we'd been talking, there had been something about her voice that was familiar. It kept hitting me, again and again, there was something in her voice that I knew. This wasn't Heather's voice I was hearing, but rather a ghost voice from my past that had surfaced, almost like one of those fleeting glimpses you get where you're convinced someone just walked past, but, alas, nobody is there.

D'uh. That was it. Heather's last name -- the voice. It suddenly made sense.

So I asked if Heather was related to any of the Harkness family in Ottawa. She said yes. So I asked if she knew a Colin and Christine. There was a long pause (likely Heather suddenly all freaked out) before she said: “Okay, how do you know so much about my family?”

In the early 90’s I’d briefly dated Heather’s sister, Christine. And it was Christine’s voice that I’d been hearing when Heather was speaking, the tone of voice, the inflection, the subtle nuances. It was uncanny. Although I can’t recall speaking with Christine since the mid or perhaps late 90’s, I knew that voice as if we’d last spoken only yesterday.

Christine and I had only dated for a month or two, (no big surprise for anyone who knew me -- I’d fall for a girl, drool like an idiot and she’d realize that hanging around with me was a huge mistake. Of course, I still have Francine under a magic voodoo spell which might explain why she tolerates me and my drool). Anyways, while the dating thing hadn’t worked out, we did maintain a friendship, kept in touch via the occasional letter or phone call, but ended up losing touch with each other over the years.

It has been said that scent trigger powerful memories, and I’ve found that to be true. But this is one time that sound, a voice, triggered strong memories. I wonder if it’s because when Christine and I hung out, we spent most of our time talking. I’ll always remember her as one of those friends with whom I could chat endlessly, from deep and meaningful conversation to light, fluffy and silly things.

A friend of mine, Dean Watson, once commented that he enjoyed spending time with friends that challenged him (mentally, physically, etc) - he enjoyed someone who was capable of keeping him on his toes and forcing him to try new things. I think, along those lines, I’ve always been attracted to friends with whom I can have stimulating conversation. Dean was certainly one of those people, my buddy Steve has been one for most of my life, but there are many other people whom I’m realizing I enjoy spending time with for that very reason. Francine, of course, holds the top spot in my little world for the scintillating range of conversation we have, from the deepest deep thoughts and emotions to boughts of wild creativity, from politically charged topics to the silliest and stupidest things (although she prefers that I save my truly low brow guy stuff for my buddies like Steve and Pete)

But it was the talking, the conversation, that I’ll always remember Christine for. That’s likely why Heather’s voice had such a ghostly effect on me. It’s like I was hearing this voice from my past. And I was, in a way. It was really freaky.

I was glad to hear from Heather that her sister is doing extremely well, apparently the co-owner of a Yoga fitness club, going for her Masters in Montreal and is in a long term relationship with a great guy. Christine was a good soul, a kind person, and I’m really glad that she found a nice guy and is successful. The last time we’d had an in person long conversation, she was heading to Vancouver to do some exploring before heading to University. It's nice to see she found something good and is living happily ever after.

So, in the challenge with my buddy Pete to connect with long lost friends, he's leading the charge due to the popularity of his blog. I may not have had as much success via my blog, but at least all that overtime at work has allowed me to connect with the sister of a long-long friend. That's gotta count for something. No?


Pete Mitchell said...

That's great. I'm turning into a real softy and enjoy reading about how you are reconnecting with old friends.

(And my blog's not really popular by the way. I just have to have sex with everyone who clicks on it every time they click.

I'm tired. So very, very tired.

Stupid naked butt picture. Oh the perils of hindsight.)

Kimberly said...

hahahahahha....hey wait a minute you were offering sex!??!?!

I feel left out!

Kim :P