torstaina, joulukuuta 20, 2007

Parsippany High, Class of '73

The other day, something truly remarkable happened. Wandering around in the virtual, I stumbled upon a familiar name--or a slightly different version of it. After some Googling, however, I became assured I had found a friend with whom I had not been in contact for thirty-four years!

Jeffrey Jullich--or Geoffrey, as he was known to me at the time--and I went to the same high school in Parsippany, New Jersey. I was an exchange student, and we graduated together in the summer of 1973. During the passing years and decades, I thought about Jeffrey a lot. We weren't the best of friends at school, but many things bound us together. After all, Jeffrey had been an exchange student as well, spending his junior year in Sweden, of all places. He even knew some Swedish, and if my memory serves me, I think we even kidded around some på svenska. Jeffrey was also extremely talented in arts and languages, that much was evident, and I was just sure he would turn out to be something in that field.

So, years passed, and I kept thinking about this talented kid that I used to know in suburban New Jersey. A couple of years ago, I even Googled his name, but to no avail, since I had no idea he had, after leaving Jersey and becoming a New Yorker, changed the spelling of his first name.

Turns out, I was right in foreseeing his future. Jeffrey Jullich had indeed become a poet and an artist! I found his email address and right away sent him a short note. And, quite amazingly, in a couple of hours, there was a reply, a very friendly one at that. We started chatting and soon enough found out we even knew the same people. One of our mutual acquaintances was Kenneth Goldsmith, and he told me he had studied with Charles Bernstein, both of whom I met when they visited Finland a couple of years ago. Oh, and yes, his publisher, Jerrold Shiroma, is my "friend" in Facebook. In the seventies, in college, Jeffrey had even attended classes taught by Kenneth Koch and John Ashbery. Some company, huh?

It's a small world, isn't it.

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