Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Searching for Kyle
Since then I've started getting obsessed about finding Kyle Parks, who was my best friend from, I don't know, age 5 until a year into college. He's in the picture as well, sitting with Jane Jasper, who I always thought was really cool and pretty and sweet but never asked out.
But I googled 'Harry Kyle Parks, Jr.' and then 'Kyle Parks' and got nothing, not one thing. I didn't think you could avoid being found these days but apparently you can.
I'll go back when I finish this and try a search with stuff I know about him--like he was a Navy pilot and went to Virginia Tech. But I'm not hopeful.
He's someone I shared my life with for longer than anyone except Bern and Josh and Mimi and I'd like to find him and get in touch now that we are in our mid-60's and see what comes of that, if anything.
Maybe I'm just getting old and searching for the past.
I don't know about that. But I would like to find Kyle.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Anyway, the 2001 obit said his surviving son, Harry Kyle Parks, Jr, lived in Bluefield, West Virginia--a town of 25,000 when I was growing up, probably much less then because the 'business' of Bluefield was to be the 'city' for the coal field and the coal field isn't there anymore. We went to Bluefield (which is called 'nature's air conditioned city' and lemonade is freely given out by the Chamber of Commerce when the temperature reached 90 degrees...I never got free lemonade all the time I was there) when we wanted to 'shop'. It was 25 miles away from Anawalt, where Kyle and I grew up, across either Peel Chestnut or Elkhorn mountain. Either way it was almost an hour's drive since the mountains were significant and the roads across them were full of KYA ('kiss your ass') turns and curves. Either way you went through Bluewell, where Lindy's Drive In was located. No one ever went to Bluefield with out stopping at Lindy's where the hot dogs with chilli and slaw were the specialty. I still long for a Lindy's hot dog.
So I emailed Charles to thank him for actually finding Kyle when I couldn't and told him I'd try to find him if he was still in Bluefield. Of course, I couldn't. But Charles emailed me back with Kyle's address and phone number. I'm not sure what web site he used (Jim'sfriendsaddressesandphonenumber.com perhaps) but I am delighted.
I plan to write Kyle a letter tonight, since even Charles couldn't provide his email address and see if he'd like to be in contact. I'll send the picture that started all this. Kyle and I haven't spoken or seen each other since we were 21 or 22, so it's a ghost from the past 44 or so years. Who knows how he will react. We didn't part on bad terms in any way--our life journeys were just leading in different directions: his to the military and mine to the protest movement.
I've thought and thought of who I've known (who weren't family) longer than I knew Kyle. Surely Mike Miano who started all this non-sense of searching for a long lost friend who I've known where he was and have had sporadic contact with since High School and College. And maybe Mike Lawless, though the last 10 years haven't been a 'contact time' for the two of us. And then there is John in New Haven who I met when Bern and I lived in Morgantown and he was in graduate school, or maybe even when we were both in college. And since the years since college have been many more than the years before college, John is surely the person I've know longest and still relate with often and always (he goes on vacation with Bern and Mimi and Tim and Sherry--who I've know since 1980--and me).
But this Kyle thing has gotten under my skin. I'm going to write tonight. I'll let you know what
Saturday, March 1, 2014
One of the people at the table is Kyle Parks, who grew up about 200 yards from me and who I knew from the Anawalt Methodist Church before we even started school. Both are mothers were school teachers and though my dad did coal-mining, ran a bar, worked with my uncle in the H and S grocery store, and picked up and delivered dry cleaning, he eventually sold insurance, just like Kyle's dad. Since we were both pretty smart, we were in the same classes for 12 years, often competing for the first chair (teachers reseated kids, where I grew up, after each test--highest score got the first chair...don't think they do that in this era of 'everyone gets a trophy', but it was sure a motivator for me!) I hadn't seen Kyle since we were in college (he at VPI, now Virginia Tech, and me at WVU). That photo made me realize he was my very first friend and I tried to find him online, but couldn't, being a Luddite, but my friend Charles, who reads my blog, found Kyle's father (Kyle Sr.) obit and then an address in Bluefield, WV.
I was ecstatic! I wrote him a letter on Thursday night, addressed it, put a forever stamp on it and carried it around in the book I was reading all day Friday. Then, this morning I get another email from Mike Miano.
In it was Kyle's obituary.
I suddenly realized why I had passed up a dozen or more opportunities to mail that letter on Friday, including leaving it in the basket on our front porch.
He died in Raleigh, NC on Tuesday, September 7, 2004 at Rx Healthcare from complications following a heart attack.
I discovered, after his military life (which wasn't mentioned in the Obit, but I know he went to Navy Flying School) he worked 25 years as a mechanical engineer for Goodyear in Danville, Virginia. I also discovered his hobbies were 'model railroading, cycling and cheering for the Virginia Tech Hokies." He moved from Bluefield, where my letter was going, to Cary, NC to be near his grandsons.
His brother Ralph, who was younger than us and I knew from birth, is also dead, along with Kyle's parents. But he had two daughters: Mandy in Apex, NC and Kelly in LA, his grandsons from Mandy and two sisters, who I vaguely remember. No mention of a predeceased wife or any wife at all, which caused me pain because Kyle's picture could have been in the dictionary beside the definition of 'straight arrow'. The Kyle I remember was no nonsense and 'down the middle' and a divorce must have pained him mightily.
I just reread the letter I wrote to my first friend who I hadn't seen for 4 decades and hadn't known was dead for a decade of that time. It wasn't good enough to re-start a friendship after all that time. It was full of humor and irony and joy as I told him about my life since we last talked. But it wasn't good enough to do our years of friendship honor.
I tend to have 'serial friendships'--I move on and make new friends, always have. I know Mike Miano and John Anderson from my past, I know them still though I haven't seen Mike for decades either (he has a pocket cross of mine that I won't get back unless I see him again) and though I see John, who I've known for well over thirty years a lot since he lives in New Haven and we share many friends, I need to ponder what I've lost by 'moving on' the way I tend to do.
I've lost Kyle, that's obvious. (I had already imagined establishing an email friendship with him once he got my letter. But that, alas, will not happen, not in this life or the next or anywhere in between.)
I've lost a lot of people I truly loved because, like a duck sheds water, I shed friends and move on.
It's worked for me and I've always had lots of friends. But after seeking, finding and losing Kyle--all in one week--I need to ponder 'friendship' for a while.
I'll let you know what shows up.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Losing childhood too...
I haven't thought of him much. It's been 40+ years since we've spoken. But he was always in the background, Kyle and Billy Bridgeman and Joe Tagnisi, the kids I grew up with. These were the people of my childhood and now I know, 10 years too late, that Kyle is dead.
Toe-head he was, very short, almost white hair. Very put-together. A 'straight arrow'. A good, good guy was Kyle.
What I've been pondering is that with my knowledge of his death, my childhood has died as well.
Should have a long time ago, I guess. But the thing about me is this--I've had a remarkably happy and wondrous life. When that happens, I think, your childhood hangs around. There was nothing bad about my childhood or adolescence or young adulthood or my life since then. I have been profoundly lucky and wondrously blessed. So my childhood was still alive and well and fine until I found out Kyle was dead.
It's like the rope to the anchor broke and my boat is now slipping out to sea.
I don't want to be dramatic. After all I went 40 and more years before trying to find Kyle. But knowing he is dead is stunningly profound to me.
I'm fine--I'm always FINE--that's the uneventful and rather boring story of my life. I've always been 'fine' and will be even now.
But something has left the room of my life. Childhood, I think. It's silly to say I 'miss' Kyle since I let him float out there or over four decades without trying to find him. But now that I know my much delayed desire to find him is thwarted, well, something has left the room of my life.
I'm growing older--something Kyle never got to do--and I'm growing older knowing he's not there to look for anymore.
I'm going to sit with this for a long while. I need to ponder my childhood and how it seems to not be there anymore.
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