Was talking to a social media friend/fan (probably about 7th ring out, more or less) and the character of Moirrey Kermode from the Jessica Keller books came up. Mostly in the context that her internal dialogue can be even more messy and complicated, linguistics and spelling-wise, than the words that emerge from her mouth.

Went to tell him that Moirrey was based on a woman that, had a couple of decisions gone other directions, I might have ended up marrying, once upon a very long time ago. She was an amazing babe, and a complete goofball in the best ways.

Then I got to thinking and a strange phrase bubbled to the surface.

“And I never saw her again after 1997.”

This was in the world before social media connecting the world, or even cell phones with free long distance, to let you call just about anyone in the United States on unlimited minutes and just talk.

Never saw her again after 1997. But honestly, 1992 or 1993 is probably a better mark, because by 1997, she’d ended up married to a cop in Wichita and we had lunch one day to catch up, when she was somewhere around six or seven months pregnant with her first(?).

And I was leaving Wichita for good. (I’ve been back through a couple of times. Been in Kansas a couple of other times, but all in KC instead.) Twenty-five years. Be twenty-six next Feb, since I moved to Seattle.

And never saw her again after 1997.

Weirdly, there are several other women that I never saw again after 1997. It was a tremendously tumultuous year. And I can think of at least two that I interact with on social media, one regularly and one every blue-moon, but she’s out there.

That’s what happens when you up and move across the country for the third time in seven years. (To Los Angeles in 1990. Back in ‘95. Left in ‘97. Settled up here.) And when you live in a world that was much, much larger than the one today.

I had an email conversation with some friends in Egypt this week. And Nigeria. England, Wales, Australia, and Canada are kinda tame, and I’ve chatted with all of them on the interwebs in the last month.

But twenty-five years ago, it was still possible to leave town and forever disappear. And I did.

I’m a writer. Most of my major characters (and there have been a lot of them,) are based on people I know. Generally people I like. Moirrey Kermode was an extrapolation of Rene, had she fallen into that setting. And she’d have run with it. Her narration of the bombs in Auberon and later are pretty much exactly what I would have expected her to say, with an accent added and a microphone in her hands.

Always wonder what happened to her. Unlike a lot of you, I didn’t remain in touch with with folks in high school. (Hell, or college or grad school. Pretty much anybody prior to 1997.)

I have a handful of folks that I knew before then that I still talk to. One of them was my best friend in fourth-sixth grade, before we ended up at different junior high schools. Talk to him regularly on social media, and he writes for me for Boundary Shock Quarterly, but I might not have seen him in the flesh in close to forty years. (We were talking about his Mom this week, and how awesome she was/is, and I realized that I ran into her in 1996 while I was in Wichita.)

My best friend in junior high and high school decided that he was never allowed to talk to me again after 1999. Stopped answering the phone. Ignored emails. Gone. Probably good riddance, as I suspect he was turning into a bad person by then, given reflection. Or maybe just an asshole. Would have liked a reason. Got silence. His loss.

Best friend in college and after died extremely young in 1998. Sudden and ongoing health issues. Also, gone.

However, and maybe more weirdly, I have a handful of ex-girlfriends (as recent as 2012, as early as 1987) that I talk to regularly on social media. Like regularly. Several of them are friends with my wife, as well, and I know they have chatted with her in the semi-present tense.

But I never saw her again after 1997. Any of her.

And, honestly, there is likely no circumstances that have me returning to Kansas again. Rest of the family are in Oklahoma and Missouri these days, so funerals will be there, if I end up actually being invited (not a given, with my family’s ongoing disfunctionality).

So I think about that tumult. That chasm that divides my life so completely.

I never saw her again after 1997, and that applies to half a dozen women, all of whom had incredibly major impacts on my life.


And something that, for good or evil, kids these days (heh) are likely to never fully understand, when it used to be possible to vanish entirely from the face of the earth.

I mean, you still can. Just sign out of all your social media accounts for good. Sign out of your email for the last time. Lose the cell phone that frequently is the anchor of your identity in the modern era.

Disappear for good.

Like that girl in 1997.