Introduction to Windows was pretty much a joke for the more computer literate among the entering freshman, but in 1995 there were still plenty of people who reached college without knowing how to use a computer, so the training really was necessary. Fortunately, the guy teaching my class recognized that some of us would have the background, and told us that anyone who knew what they were doing should sit at the back and play with the graphics in WordPerfect or something. Four of us went to the back of the room. Like a good little girl, I followed directions and played with WP graphics - and managed to hang my computer in about ten minutes because it wasn't advanced enough to handle what I had asked it to do. Rather than reboot, I decided just to wait and see if it eventually cleared. I think the computer training classes were only scheduled to run about half an hour, anyway. So I peeked at the screen of the weird tall red-headed guy at the next computer over. He was playing with Paint, and it was quite impressive. And after a few minutes he caught me watching, and started typing in messages to me, trying to make me laugh.
You were the very first friend I ever made all by myself, without someone else introducing us. In fact, there haven't been many since. I'm still very proud of being brave enough to talk to you - although, in truth, you didn't give me much of a choice in the matter. You adopted quite a few painfully shy girls at about that time, and eventually started forcing us to speak to each other. Despite the initial misgivings, that worked out quite well for me.
You and I were both in a similar position that first semester, involved in a first relationship with someone still in high school back home. And we both experienced the problems with that at around the same time (although yours resolved sooner). We talked a lot about that. And about everything else, long into many nights. Even years later, when we'd been pulled our separate ways, if I ended up talking to you in your room for a few minutes, I would still be there hours later.
You took me to my first Medfest event, too. I hid in a corner of the sofa, but it was fascinating to listen to them take apart Princess Bride. It's a crying shame what Medfest did to you, and I wish I had not been so powerless to stop it. I also wish I had not been the unwilling tool of that particular batch of scheming and social/political infighting. I cannot regret the way it turned out for me, but on your behalf I most certainly do.
I never saw you as the jester you often acted, although you could always make me laugh. I saw you as the deep and serious young man I got to know early on. I always enjoyed your conversation and your insights. I miss your willingness to talk about absolutely anything and everything. I miss your perspective on the world.
I had hoped that maybe we could stay in touch, although neither of us are particularly regular correspondents with anyone any more. But my emails have gone unanswered for long enough, and I have always been reluctant to keep trying to contact someone who does not respond, doubly so for you. And every time I try, I wonder if perhaps I am from a part of your life you would prefer to forget. It seems strange to me that it has been long enough that we are only a part of each others' pasts.