the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Out of the Past

Lately, I’ve been having weird dreams, and remembering them, which is unusual for me.  Last night’s dream was very bizarre.  It started out in the coffee shop from the TV show “Happy Days.”  I was sitting at a table with Richie Cunningham, Ralph, Fonzie, Laverne, and Shirley, and we were all waiting for Potsie to return to town.  He had been living for several years in California.  

Suddenly, the scene switched, and I was home, but my house was now some sort of enormous mansion that looked a bit like the Getty Museum.   I was getting married in the morning (to Sophia?).  I had hundreds of guests… and they were all in the mansion, sleeping in various bedrooms, waiting for the big wedding.  There were friends and acquaintances walking through my house, some who I hadn’t seen in twenty-five years.  It was first come, first serve for the bedrooms, so I had to go from room to room to know where everyone was staying.  I spent the most time in the “master” bedroom, which had three big beds.  In the beds were some kids I remembered from my elementary school in Queens — P.S. 154 (and they were still kids).   One of the kids, a girl named Claire, was hiding her boyfriend, Dennis, under the bed, thinking that them being in bed together would upset me, but I told her that it was OK for them to “fool around.”  (there was a scene just like this in All My Children yesterday, so I obviously steal my dream material from a soap opera).  I actually laughed to myself when I met “Whoorl” in the bathroom combing her hair.  (The only reason she must have been there was that she emailed me recently that I showed up in one of her dreams, so this must have been payback.  And yes, the baby was there!).

Even though the wedding was the next day, I decided to surprise everyone by giving them tickets to the Oscars, which just happened to be taking place that night.  After I bought a thousand tickets from a woman sitting at a desk in the middle of Wilshire Boulevard, I began to second guess myself.  I wondered if my guests really WANTED to go to the Academy Awards, or whether they would prefer to go to a Lebanese restaurant where there is a bellydancer performing (Sophia and I had a bellydancer at our wedding).

I don’t remember much else about the dream.  Why was I having this dream?  Why was I thinking about all these people I haven’t thought about it years?

This morning, after waking up, showering, and eating breakfast, I went onto my email, much as I do every day.  Amidst all the spam, there was an email waiting for me from “an old friend.” 

An old friend?

It was from “Tess,” a friend I had in summer camp.  (I changed her name. I’m not sure why.  If she says it is OK, I’ll use her real name)  I was 14-15 years old at the time I went to this Jewish summer camp.  I haven’t heard from her since then.  Apparently, she found me through someone finding my blog. 

I immediately called Sophia over to read this email, because this wasn’t just any old friend from the past.   This was from the first girl I ever liked!   I even wrote heart-felt notes to her, which I could read at the next “Cringe” “read embarrassing stuff you wrote as a teenager” festival.. 

Tess was totally unlike me.  While I played right field in softball (and dropped every ball), she was the best athlete in camp!   Even then, I liked a strong woman!  Alas, we never became more than friends.  She liked someone else in camp — and now she’s married to him with two kids.  All in all, I was probably better off, because  at the time, I wasn’t ready yet to deal with girls.  I still required several more years of practicing kissing the back of my hand.

Even though my memories are vague, and probably reinterpreted through the years,  I remember Tess as important, because before her, I don’t think I had the guts to talk to a girl as a “real person,” or consider one a friend.  I even asked her to some sort of final dance “social” at camp, and I think she agreed, but I have some unclear memory of her getting a cold and having to be in the infirmary, and me talking to her through a screen window.

Something happened that summer when I was fifteen.  During that important summer,  it occurred to me, that even if you were a total dork –  and I was — if you make a girl laugh, she might actually notice you.  It was a lesson I learned, and learned well.  Today, all I have to do is tell a funny story, and my mailbox is filled with the panties of female bloggers from around the world. 

I’m very curious to speak more with Tess.  We emailed a couple of times back and forth today, trying to fill in everything that ever happened since we were fifteen,  but this is difficult to do, especially in an electronic age where a Twitter is considered a long message.

I’m not one who is into mystical stuff, but it was an odd coincidence that last night,  I had a dream about people from my past, and this morning, someone for real showed up in my inbox.

Has anyone from your past ever found you through your blog?

(I told her to read my blog.  I hope that wasn’t a bad idea.  We’ll see if she writes back!)


  1. Dagny

    Hell friggin’ no! I chose an alias that most folks would not associate with the real me just for this purpose. I don’t want folks from my “real life” finding me online. I like to think that the people in my past are not intelligent enough to put everything together to find my blog.

  2. V-Grrrl

    Regarding your dream: I think you’re looking for a safe place, a secure world, a place that makes you feel safe and cared for like you did as a kid. Hey, why do you think you found yourself in HAPPY DAYS waiting for Potsie to come back from California?

    Amber at Believing Soul recently helped me interpret some dreams of mine. Among the tidbits she shared with me was that houses and buildings in dreams often represent our true selves or souls…

    As for your other story, in February I unexpectedly heard from my first boyfriend, first love. We hadn’t had any contact in at least 20 years. We dated for two years when I was in high school and he was in college. Yes, he found me through my blog. We’ve corresponded back and forth, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised how easy it has been to be his friend. He’s married and has four sons and is a research scientist, which is pretty much exactly the kind of life I imagined him having when I knew him many years ago.

  3. V-Grrrl

    P.S. Since your post wasn’t funny, I’m not sending my panties. : (

  4. brettdl

    I’ve had some recent friends find my blog, but no one from my deep, deep past. Or, they found it but decided I was too crazy to contact.

  5. Stacey

    As far as I know, none of my recent or distant friends have found my blog. Of course, most people in general haven’t found my blog. It’s a well-kept secret.

  6. Otir

    Lots of my oldest friends know my blog, like my family does. I am not even sure they read it, some do, some don’t, it makes me afraid of telling how I really feel.

    Other people I knew in the past sometimes came accross me through the internet, the first boy I fell in love with, I once saw his name with someone who was posting about her handicapped child on the same board as I was posting.

    I assumed she was a sister-in-law and contacted her privately, and she was indeed. Then I told her to tell her brother-in-law to email, he did, we exchanged very nice emails back and forth… once. He never answered back the last answer I had given him. But it does not mean anything.

    Another previous boyfriend IMed me several times, telling me all about his life, that was very complicate, with leaving his current wife and children for another woman he had met. He was extatic that I had not been judgemental in acknowledging the stories when I was emailing him.

    Of course, I was terribly upset he was going to do such a stupid thing, but I would never tell him. My email was not an email of encouragement for him to do his stupid things as usual, nor was it a condemnation, I was listening to him, and I guess he felt good about telling a former girlfriend about how crazy he still was about his sex life…

    Then the craze must have caught him back, because he stopped emailing me, and I never tried to know more about how bad he had gone on doing.

    And of course, there is tha man I was deeply in love with who married someone else. I kept contact with both. Both are now divorced, she is remarried, he is not, but he lives too far away. I tried to see him again each time I was traveling near where he was, but each time he was not there at the same time.

    I guess I have to stay with my memories.
    I also dream a lot with houses and places that I sometimes know very well for being places from the past. They always have a place that was not there in real past life, like a hidden room or an addition. Some place that I don’t seem to be able to go to in real life.

  7. pam

    My pal from childhood, Lisa, was in a cafe where I had some art hanging. She was at the show and saw my name and thought… hmmmm. She took a business card, checked out my blog and she knew I was who she thought I was, and she emailed me. I was a little nervous when we first started trading email – what if she’s some freaky republican! – but it was a delight, actually, she’s a great cook and a writer and a reader and and and. Plus, I really like her kid. It was a good thing.

  8. Smartsocraticss

    Dreasm, that’s all I do every day, is interpret peoples dreams. But I get paid for it. I think you should write to Woody Allen and ask him what this one means. He’s been through enough psychoanalysis that he should be able to lead you in the right direction. I think Barbra Streisand has been through enough psychoanalysis to help too. As for me, unless you are willing to pay me, I won’t help. (Besides, I think you’re smart enough to figure it out.)

  9. Peter

    Man, I wish Potsie would show up in MY dreams. That is all sorts of awesome.

    “even if you were a total dork – and I was — if you make a girl laugh, she might actually notice you.”

    And I am ever so thankful for that.

  10. Kyra

    I have had someone find me from my past through my blog and my art gallery (kinda happens when you have to use your real name online… maybe I should start painting under an Alias like Fred! I think I’d make a fantastic Fred!) The thing is, my past is horrible. I don’t WANT to hear from anyone from my past.

    It must be really wonderful to have something good in your past and a friend from that time come and visit you. I’m sure she’ll write you back again. 🙂

  11. Jazz

    No one that I know of has ever found me through my blog. But then I’m no longer in contact with anyone from before I moved here. And wouldn’t want to be.

  12. Mist 1

    My sister’s roommate’s brother put together enough clues to figure out that he had gone to high school with me. I told him who I was and we exchanged a few emails about the good old days when he was a nerd and I was a b*tch. Not much has changed.

  13. princess extraordinaire

    My best friend from high school e-mailed me after finding my blog – it was strange becasue I don’thave itunder my name but under my blog name…it was weird and wonderful as we’re speaking and getting toegther every about other week!

  14. Not Fainthearted

    I’m with Dagny. Chose this nickname so’s they wouldn’t find me. High-school BF did, but I don’t think he reads anymore. Too involved with his own divorce and affair(s.) (dodged that one, eh?)

    But the old friends? They show up in my dreams occasionally, when I’m super stressed about life or feeling really lost.

    I’d never heard the thing about the houses representing ourselves. That makes sense and also explains why it always feels ‘familiar’ even when it’s not.

  15. Finn

    Things like this just reaffirm for me the fact that there is something out there bigger than ourselves.

    And why wouldn’t you be looking for a safe place? Your usual one is a bit shaky right now.

    I reconnected with my first love through a blog (not mine) and discovered blogging at the same time. And it all started with a dream…

  16. sarah g

    yup, heard the house thing before, makes sense. makes sense that you’re aimming for safty, such as with old friends (carefree as a kid) and old safe tv shows. a wedding; well your life with sophia…etc etc.

    good luck with things!

  17. wendy

    About this subject..slippery slope, this delving into the past. Hold on to something sturdy. Sophia will do nicely.

    Next…another shout out on my blog..I should be your press sec….

  18. Sizzle

    i’ve had two people find me through my blog but then i went back in and cleaned up any references to my actual name so no one could find me. 🙂

    some blasts from the past can be fun- some, not so much. i’m glad this is a good one.

    funny man = sexy man

  19. Churlita

    Humor is the biggest turn-on for women. We’re easy that way.

  20. Bre

    I had an old high school friend discover my blog. She was confounded by it and wrote me a lengthy email. “You know, Bre, there are people out there that you don’t even know who could be reading this!”

    yeah, I think I get that…

  21. Joan

    If I was to interpret your dream, it would be…you watch “All My Children” way to much. I saw the episode with the guy under the bed .. in the mansion. Did Adam show up in your dream? heh.

  22. Eileen

    No doubt Tess is consumed with regret over “the one that got away.” And you are right- women love a guy who can make them laugh. Works pretty much every time. Unless they have hygene issues. There are limits.

  23. M.A.

    I don’t know if I would want anyone from my past reading my blog, but you are open and honest and funny and i think that Tess will appreciate that. You probably haven’t changed much in those aspects since you were 15.

  24. Danny

    Wow, your dream sounds as convoluted and full of symbolic imagery as a “Lost” flashback! I’ve had several friends from early childhood find me through my blog, including a few people I’d been searching for. Also a long-lost Swiss branch of my family who had emigrated there from Poland in 1910 at the same time my great-grandfather went to Canada. So it’s all been good. There are one or two dangerous sociopaths in my past but I’m hoping they don’t have Internet access.

    P.S. Potsie is of the devil. Did anyone think he could act? He even made Ralph Malph look good. But I hear Anson Williams is now a successful director.

  25. better safe than sorry

    no one has ever found me through my blog, but a big part of that has to do with my “name”.

  26. deannie

    Churlita is right, good humor ROCKS! Neil, I am reading the best book ever: “How to have a High Intimacy, Low Maintenance Marriage”. Run, don’t walk, and get a copy. What great thoughts are found here.

    Your friend finding you? Total coincidence. But be grateful for the good things you had and the renewed friendship you have found.

  27. melanie

    I have had some pretty intense dreams lately, even ones that reveal their symbolism in real life the following day! Night before last? I dreamt i lost my wallet, and my skin was peeling. Sure enough yesterday, left my wallet at the Kmart, and my legs look like a snake peeling its skin…

    I love that your “first crush” found you through your blog. I didn’t “admire” boys till I was about 18. (i was kinda smart at that earlier age – big boobs, i figured out what guys really wanted pretty quickly at 14. and it wasn’t my personality)

  28. Neil

    Deannie — I’ll check out that book!

    Danny — I didn’t even like Happy Days all that much.

  29. psychomom

    I love to experience and explore that mystical stuff. Dreams, premonition, karma, coincidence, there has to be something more to them. I find it fascinating.

    I found out my brother was stalking my blog (not commenting) and it kind of freaked out but then I figured what the hell and invited others to read. It has given me a sense of freedom to open up and express myself, but I admit there are lots of things shoved in the closet that I’m not ready to share.

  30. Jennifer

    I’ve just recently password protected my blog for reasons of my own stupidity and insecurity. Mores the bother.

    I hooked up – in a platonic sense ONLY – with my first love at my 20th high school reunion in 2001. It was hella cool, and scary. And all kinds of stuff.

  31. Jack

    Has anyone from your past ever found you through your blog?

    Several people have found me and I can’t say that I was pleased by it. For a long time my blog was a real refuge in which I could really share my thoughts.

    That changed when I was outed. I can’t say that I was completely surprised, but I do miss my anonymity.

  32. Tammy

    This is “Tess” and my real name is Tammy.You are an amazing writer and I am better expressing myself in person but I will try to express myself as eloquently as you…I am truly touched and honored to have had such an affect on you like that…What you wrote made me feel sooo good and when I was 14 and 15 I really thought that you were funny and I considered you a very good friend who I have great memories and some funny pictures of….I do remember being in the infirmary but I don’t remember if it was the night of a dance…I would have said yes to you if you had asked me because (although I “liked” someone else) I truly liked you too. You are a good person through and through with a great spirit and outlook on life. Our division was a very small one and we were very close. I am very glad we are back in touch….

  33. whoorl

    I hope my dream hair looked pretty.

  34. mrsatroxi

    If anybody has found me through my site, they have never told me. I don’t use my actual name anywhere either…

    My husband makes me laugh, always has. I also love to hear him laugh.

    Laughter is good.

  35. stepping over the junk

    THAT IS SO AWESOME! I havent had anyone find my blog except my Chef after we broke up and then him reading it kind of helped him know me better, as painful as some of it was for him to read, it brought us back together.

  36. Neil

    Holy Crap, Tammy wrote on my blog! That’s even more exciting than Dooce writing a comment.

    And if anyone ever suggests that I am making up a blog post, here’s the proof that I’m always telling the truth, sucker.

    Now, who else can I find from my past?

  37. Dana

    Yes. Unfortunately it was an old, old boyfriend I first met in high school, then who found me many states away 13 years later when I was nearly on my deathbed, then who stalked me even later. Three times was not a charm. Even less charming now; my husband threatened him with a lawsuit. Since the guy already has three ex-wives and six kids to support, it appears that just for now he has decided to weigh the financial and legal consequences.

  38. Non-Highlighted Heather

    We have no proof that she’s actually Tess/Tammy. I think to satisfy those of us who are a bit more skeptical, we need some evidence. I do believe some of them there funny pictures might do the trick.

  39. Neil

    Heather, but did you like me naming her “Tess,” which I thought was very literary?

  40. V-Grrrl

    i had a long-haired calico cat named Tess who disappeared years ago in November…

    If only she had Internet access and a thumb, I’m sure she’d find me.

  41. Kelly

    I love mystical stuff! Someone from my past DID contact me on my blog once, but that’s because I happened to mention his full name, and he’d Googled himself, and found me.

    Wouldn’t it be a perfect world if you could find people you love while googling yourself?

  42. Heather B.

    Well there was the girl who I hated (only because she hated me) from 3rd grade on, who I called the ‘c’ word. Then there were my coworkers at my old job (who thought it was funny/well written/blah blah blah/it was in Wonkette and Kos and the Express and that’s where they got their news anyway), then my new coworkers found it and read it obsessively (thank God for sitemeter) so I had to block the IP address so now I can’t even look at my blog at work, then ummm…oh there was that time my father discovered google.

    Yup, that about covers it.

  43. Non-Highlighted Heather

    Yes, dear, that was very Thomas Hardy of you.

  44. Marilyn

    I thought we were supposed to send cards and letters. I didn’t even know panties were an option.

  45. Mrs Mogul

    I tell no one here about my blog. The only person in my family that reads it is my brothers ex-wife. Anyway dreams are cool and this reunion is cool! I am trying to think about where PS154 is. Anyway, yesterday I met up with someone I went to ps 117 with!!! I havent’ seen her since we were in the 4th grade and she happens to live near me!

  46. Neil

    Mrs. Mogul — P.S. 154 is the Flushing/Jamaica area of Queens. A few years back a friend and I went back to check it out and reminisce, until we realized that two guys smiling and looking at the happy kids running around the playground made us look like pedophiles…

  47. sandra

    Only one person has, but a few guys I’ve gone on dates with have found my blog and read it very early on…

  48. teahouseblossom

    I don’t think anyone from my past has found me through my blog. I keep pretty anonymous…

    And I have never, and never would send you my panties! Ick! I like you, Neil, and your blog does make me laugh…but we have to draw the line somewhere!

  49. JanePoe (aka Deborah)

    The dreams do not surpise me considering what is going on right now … you are experiencing vicarious trauma (no! this is not some new sexual fetish!) … seriously my friend, you are vicariously experiencing what Sophia is going through. This triggers emotional and/or psychological responses to mortality. You are processing your own issues with mortality through these dreams and remembrances about your own life experience. Yeah, I know this is heavy, but hang in there my brother. xx, JP

  50. teebopop

    I can not help in the dream interpretation thing. But I can tell you what I have learned about dreams. I did a sleep study one time and I was told that when I remember my dreams so vividly it’s NOT because I’m sleeping so deeply. It’s because I’m not sleeping well at all. So I suspect that you are under a lot of stress and not sleeping as well as you should.

    As an aside, just how many panties have you collected so far?

  51. Nance

    Neil, Bill Maher once said, “Nobody wants to hear about your dreams. That’s why they play in exclusive engagements in your head.”

    Bill Maher was never stuck for a blogpost, apparently.

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