I entered my bedroom and instantly noticed a pop up on my laptop screen. Someone was trying to add me on MSN Messenger, the pre-Facebook internet platform where I spent most of my time during high school. The person had a name I didn’t recognize. I decided to add him and send him a message. I was a lot less shy online than in real life.
“Heyyyy!! What’s up??” I greeted him, with my typical MSN charm; double punctuation marks. I lay down on my bed with my laptop on my tummy.
“Not much, you?” The person replied a few minutes later, following typical MSN etiquette.
“Not much.” I responded. “So ummm, who is this??”
“Seth Grady,” he replied. That meant nothing to me at the time.
“Do we know each other??”
“I’m in your history class.” He informed me. “I sat next to Stewie Goode today.”
I thought hard for a moment, trying to put a name to the face. I remembered Stewie sitting across the aisle and one row ahead of me. I had sat at the back corner of the class with my bag protectively on the seat beside me, hoping nobody would sit there. To date, nobody had. We were two weeks into the semester, and I intended to keep it that way. I liked sitting alone. I was surprised this Seth Grady even knew who I was. I thought nobody knew who I was. “Oh!! Cool!! I guess we’ve never had any classes together before.”
“I was in your English class in grade 10.” Seth claimed. I frowned. He was definitely thinking of somebody else. I was sure of it. Probably an Alexa or an Alexandra. There were lots of girls with similar names in our grade. Much louder, more popular people than me. I was almost certain there was no Seth Grady in my English class. I’d remember a name like that. I liked the name Seth, it wasn’t very common.
“No, you weren’t.”
“Yeah, second period, Ms Gordon,” Seth said, spooking me a bit. That was my class. “You sat next to that Livvy girl. You wrote that story about cheerleaders stalking football players as your final project.”
What the hell. Had he not mentioned that, I wouldn’t even have remembered writing that story at all. I was pretty sure Olivia and I had lifted the whole plot from a Lizzie McGuire episode and just barely edited the details 10 minutes before that class. How could he remember that? It was two years ago. I asked curiously, “what was your story about??”
“The Purple People Eater,” he told me. “I wrote it with Lorenzo Dracoli.”
“I know Lorenzo!!” I exclaimed. Lorenzo had definitely been in that class. I was pretty good friends with Lorenzo, actually. We’d gone to elementary school together. “And I kind of remember hearing that story. It was really long and weird, right??”
“Yeah, kind of. I liked it.”
“But I don’t remember you.” I admitted. Now I felt kind of bad. I could almost picture Lorenzo standing at the front of the class telling this ridiculous story, but I had zero recollection of who had been standing beside him. I glanced across the room and considered looking him up in the yearbook on my bookshelf, but I didn’t feel like getting up.
“That’s okay,” replied Seth, “I’m not very memorable.”
“Me neither.” I agreed. For a second, I worried that would be the end of our conversation, but I didn’t care enough to keep it going. I navigated away from the page when his conversation lit up in orange again at the bottom of my screen. He wanted to keep talking.
“So where are you from?” Seth asked. He meant my background. Most people in Leafton and Bridgewood were only first or second generation Canadian. I was first generation. I’d answered this question a million times before. “My mom’s from Uruguay and my dad’s from Argentina.”
“You??” I asked, even though I knew he was Italian. Everyone in Bridgewood was Italian.
“My dad’s from Italy and my mom’s from Uruguay.”
I stared at my screen in utter confusion. That sounded too much like my answer. Was someone playing a prank on me? There was no way this guy was in my history class, had been in my English class, had a Uruguayan mom, and I had absolutely no idea who he was. How could that be? It couldn’t. I figured he was just teasing me about it, or something. That’d be weird. All I could think of to say was, “what!? Really!?”
“Yeah,” Seth typed as if everyone was half Uruguayan. No excitement on his end whatsoever. I’d never actually met another half Uruguayan person before. Most people I met didn’t even know where Uruguay was. “Do you speak Spanish?”
“Yeah, with my grandparents, do you??” I wondered. Was he seriously Uruguayan?
“Not much. I used to speak it a lot more when my great aunt lived here with us, but she moved back to Uruguay a few years ago.”
Wow. I was completely astounded. I felt an instant connection to a complete stranger, who happened to go to the same school as me. Someone else who knew things about Uruguay.
“If we had a baby, it would be half Uruguayan like us.” I typed before even thinking about the implications of my words. Right before I pressed send, I stopped and for a split second wondered if it was a weird thing to say. It definitely was. But for some reason, I didn’t care. I sent it.
“Ha. Yeah, that’s cool,” Seth replied, “a quarter from each of us.”
I smiled. He got it. He was really cool.
I had a good feeling about him. I had a feeling we would be friends for a really long time..