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The living past

This morning I got to work and opened up my e-mail and got a terrific jolt. First there was a name that looked vaguely familiar, except it had a "Dr" in front of it. Then there was the subject line: "greetings from YAP". Then there was the message, and yes it was from a woman who was a childhood friend out on Yap back in the '60s. She's out on Yap right now, hanging out with my Yapese friends, Theo and Antonia, who have been telling her about how my brother and I spent significant time out there again in 2002. "All kinds of memories of you came flooding back!" she writes. "I hope you remember me - but you are totally forgiven if you don't."

Well, I do remember her, although it's all very vague. I used to play with her and her sister, although I can't remember if they lived in the government compound with us or if they lived in town. I think it was the latter, so I didn't see them every day. Years later, in the mid-'70s when we had all returned to the US, her family visited ours in Salem while they were on summer vacation. I don't remember what her dad did, but I think he was a doctor.

She teaches at University of Aberdeen in Scotland -- "my research now concerns marine renewables." As stupid as it sounds, one of the jolting things about her message is the way it reconfigures "childhood pal" into "doctor of marine sciences".

So now I'm probably going to spend all day in a fugue of childhood memories from Yap. I feel like somebody just slapped me awake. "Hey, you! The past is still alive! And it has come calling."



( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 12th, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC)
For a sense of the place she now calls home may I recommend "Telly Savalas looks at Aberdeen". It really exists. I saw it in the cinema in about 1980.
Dec. 12th, 2011 07:20 pm (UTC)
My boss was just telling me that she's been there and remembers it being called the Granite City. All I know is that it's where BrewDog comes from.
Dec. 13th, 2011 01:17 am (UTC)

BrewDog seems to be from Fraserburgh, which would mean they're from Aberdeenshire but not Aberdeen itself. Fraserburgh's a small coastal town about 40 miles north. My family stayed near there on holiday once.

What I recall from my Scottish childhood is that Aberdeen was made of granite (and a bit radioactive because of it), the centre of the North Sea oil industry, and that the locals had an accent that sounded odd to our Lowland ears.

Dec. 13th, 2011 01:39 am (UTC)
Right you are about BrewDog. Maybe Aberdeen was where their first pub was.

An oil town, huh? The Edmonton of Scotland? (Which is, of course, the Houston of Canada.)
Dec. 13th, 2011 11:36 pm (UTC)
odd? ODD? The Aberdeen accent makes Navajo sound like Geordie.. It's from Mars. ell actually Norway but for some reason it sounds MUCH odder than Norwegian.

I was going to say the idea of someone from Yap in Aberdeen is as weird as .. well, pandas waking upand discovering they live in Edinburgh. Oh, hang on..
Dec. 13th, 2011 11:38 pm (UTC)
Mind you, she's not from Yap. She was another American living out there at the same time we were. Although I wonder how many Americans are teaching in Aberdeen, for that matter!
Dec. 14th, 2011 12:04 am (UTC)
Oh that,, well loads actually. yawn:-) the place runs on the oil industry so.. Edinburgh U is full of Americans too actually. Aberdeen is quite major y' know - not a quaint place at all! maybe the 3rd city in Scotland..
Dec. 14th, 2011 12:06 am (UTC)
I'm curious as to name cos it's quite likely my HoD - who teaches environmental law - knows her. We were interviewing someone today who ws going on about the place of renewable energy in an independent Scotland ..Scottish academe is a very small place.

But if I had the choice of working on Yap or Aberdeen I know which I'd take. You need SNOW TYRES in Aberdeen!
Dec. 14th, 2011 12:16 am (UTC)
Well, I should probably not reveal identities quite yet, or maybe only via e-mail.
Dec. 14th, 2011 12:15 am (UTC)
So it really is like Edmonton or Houston!
Dec. 12th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
"We may be through with the past, but the past isn't through with us."
Dec. 12th, 2011 08:23 pm (UTC)
Very Faulknerian, I'm sure.
Dec. 13th, 2011 11:36 pm (UTC)
Well, the past is another country. In this case, Yap!
Dec. 13th, 2011 11:40 pm (UTC)
True. So I guess its very L.P. Hartleyan.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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