This is actually rather embarrassing, but today, quite by accident, I discovered that I had a scanner at home. Apparently a printer that I got for free with the purchase of a computer a couple years ago was an all-in-one unit, something I had apparently been entirely oblivious to until today. I can’t tell you the number of times that I wished I had a scanner in my house. I’ve been carting the most important things that I want scanned to my office and doing it there.
Other things that aren’t so urgent, though, have been put on hold. For instance, I have a huge box of photos in my closet that’s just been sitting there for the past five years. I’ve often thought about how I would like to scan at least some of them so that I could preserve them digitally, but the obstacle – however small – of getting the photos and a scanner together in the same place at the same time has prevented me from doing anything about it. Until today.
Immediately upon discovering the (well concealed) scanner on my Canon printer, I grabbed a small envelope of old photos from the box in the closet and looked through them. How this particular assortment of photos ended up together I’m not entirely certain, but among them were several photos from a dinner and a movie night that one of my friends hosted, with full permission, while house sitting for someone while we were all students at Notre Dame in March, 2002. As I was looking at these photos, I realized just how different life was ten years ago. I had just turned 20 years old and I had still never had a serious girlfriend. Sure I’d been on dates, but I wasn’t really much for dating in high school, and pretty much only had a date for things like Prom. I was studying finance and film and I planned to pursue a career as a film Producer. I hadn’t yet traveled to Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Thailand, Japan, China, India, Kenya, Spain, Ireland, or Scotland. I hadn’t yet met Adam Fairholm, so it certainly hadn’t entered my mind that I would one day be running a San Francisco-based tech business with him. Imagine how little each of us knew about the future of our lives that night. As we gathered to eat dinner (tacos) and watch a movie (Annie Hall, if memory serves) on that March evening, I doubt any of us was thinking about what we would be doing on February 21, 2012. I certainly wouldn’t have said that I’d be sitting in a Palo Alto Starbucks writing about that night.
So what did all of these people get up to, and where are they now? With the exception of two people in this photograph, I’ve actually seen everyone pictured at least twice since we graduated in May, 2004, and some of them I’ve actually kept in touch with pretty regularly. So, here’s what I know.
DongHyup - Dong was one of my closest friends at Notre Dame, and we’ve traveled somewhat extensively together. Domestically, we’ve been in New York, California, Nevada, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Utah. Internationally, we’ve traveled to Korea, Thailand, Japan, and Australia. Not quite three years ago, Dong returned to his native Korea to fulfill his obligatory military service. He had a strong fashion sense, so I always pictured Dong completing his military service in Prada boots with a custom tailored Burberry uniform. I don’t think it was quite like that. In fact, early in his military service he was a tank driver – a mental image that I still think of with a smile. After that, though, word of his skill in the kitchen had apparently gotten out and he was assigned as the private breakfast chef to the General. He recently completed his military service and is now living in Seoul working for a major Korean technology manufacturer – the company that manufactured my cell phone, actually. We have stayed in touch regularly during the 8 years since graduation and the next time I’m in Korea, I will almost certainly see him.
Matt – Matt is one of the two people in this photo that I’ve neither seen nor heard from since graduation. Matt was roommates with Johnny (see below) during our senior year, but I more or less lost track of him after that. I heard that he went to medical school, but that’s where my knowledge ends. It seems that even Facebook and LinkedIn can’t answer the question of “Where is Matt now?”
Suzanne – Suzanne, Karrie, and Laura were all roommates when this photo was taken. Of the three of them, Suzanne is the one with whom I’ve had the most interaction since graduation. During a particularly stormy winter in Denver, Suzanne came and stayed at my dad’s house for a night while I was visiting for the New Year since the roads were closed to her home in Vale. Several years after graduation, Suzanne got married to another Notre Dame grad, Mike. I attended their wedding in Omaha, NE. Mike and Suz have been to visit me in San Francisco twice, and I’ve also been to visit them in Denver, CO several times. Mike and Suz spent nearly a year traveling through South America in 2010-2011, and I had hoped to visit them there, but it never materialized. They are now back living in the Denver area and Suzanne is working at an elementary school. I actually just had them over to dinner at my dad’s house while I was there in January of this year.
Johnny – Johnny and I were roommates at the time time this photo was taken, and of everyone in this photo, Johnny is the person with whom I have most recently spoken on the phone. Our last conversation was just yesterday, in fact. Immediately after graduation, Johnny, Dong, and I all traveled to Korea together to celebrate. It was Johnny’s first, but certainly not last, trip to the Asian peninsula. After graduating from Notre Dame, Johnny went to Harvard Law School, where I had the chance to visit him one time during a trip to New York. It was my first visit to Cambridge, MA, and a very memorable one for several reasons. First, I discovered that Cambridge Commons has an amazing selection of beers on tap and also fries up a mean batch of Tater Tots. I also had the chance to attend a student Mass, a story which Johnny can relate to you if you’re ever fortunate enough to meet him. After graduating from Harvard, Johnny went on to work for a prestigious law firm in New York City, and I was able to visit him there during his tenure, as well. At that time, he was living near the East Village, in close proximity to one of the intersections where we shot scenes for Across the Universe during my stint in the Hollywood film industry. In 2009, after a couple years of corporate law, Johnny received an offer to teach law at Seoul National University, an opportunity that he jumped on. It’s not difficult to convince me to travel (have you learned that about me yet?) and within the first few months of his time in Korea I was already back over there to visit him for a week. We discovered an amazing bar – TV Bar – which, sadly, has since closed. When I last spoke to him yesterday, I learned that Johnny is now married. He told me in December that this was a likely development, but it was a surprise to learn that it had already happened – it was done without pomp and circumstance in New Haven, CT, a few weeks ago. I hear rumor that there may be a larger ceremony in the works in Korea (he met his bride there), and, surprise, surprise, I’ll make every effort to attend should that happen. He is still technically employed by SNU, though it sounds as if he’ll be returning to the United States this year and return to the legal practice in New York.
Karrie - I last saw Karrie at Mike and Suzanne’s wedding, but prior to that I had actually seen her in San Francisco when she stayed one night on my futon during a drive up to the Seattle area. She came with her dog, Jacc (named for the building at ND’s campus), and it was nice to catch up with her. Karrie was a pilot with the Navy and spent a good deal of her time on air craft carriers around the world. Apparently she is now living in Texas and, like I just did, she is preparing to celebrate her 30th birthday in March.
Laura – Laura and I met through a mutual friend, Nicole, and it was actually because of Laura that I ended up meeting both Karrie and Suzanne. We were both studying film and would end up working together at the student television station that I started with a small group, NDtv. Laura and I would also later date, an experience that was, if nothing else, transformational for both of us. After graduation, Laura joined the ACE program and went to teach in Pensacola, FL. After that ended, she began to work as a Campus Minister in New York, a job that she had the last time I saw her at Mike and Suzanne’s wedding. That was the first time I had seen her since graduation and it was a perfectly sociable reunion. I would end up seeing her one more time in New York during a visit out there – the same one where I visited Johnny in the East Village – but I haven’t been in touch with her since. The last I heard, she was no longer working in Campus Ministry, but was now working at her high school Alma Mater.
Lance - Read all the entries of this blog to learn what happened to this guy.
Diana – Diana is the only other person, apart from Matt, that I’ve completely lost track of. Since Johnny and Matt had been roommates, I at least had the Johnny connection to keep me somewhat more informed about his whereabouts, but Diana has, sadly, slipped away entirely, it seems. If the Alumni directory is to be trusted, at least as of 2009, she was living on the East Coast, but more than that I don’t know.
Eight people in this photo, and eight vastly different stories. Some of us have flown planes, others have flown tens-of-thousands of miles in planes. Some have worked on movies & TV sets, others have watched movies & TV. We’ve turned into doctors, teachers, architects, entrepreneurs, business executives, husbands, and wives. I feel so lucky to have had such good friends 10 years ago, and even luckier that I’ve managed to stay in touch with at least some of them to the present day. I wonder which picture from this year I’ll look at in in 2022 and think, “wow, life was so different back then.”