Sometimes you find yourself doing odd things and today I spent some time cleaning up my email Contacts. Its something I would recommend that everyone do from time to time because email clients and OSes have a tendency to add all sorts of odd contacts to your address book that you might not expect them to. And if you do a lot of work online and with various hosting companies you soon have a contact book filled with “Support” and info@ addresses that are of limited value in retaining.
A lot of the contacts I have (had) in my email address book were from my days at TGN so we are talking about a series of email addresses from a period stretching back close to seven years now. Some are from companies that closed their doors well before the end of my tenure at TGN. Some are from companies that I mailed information to but never heard back.
Many of the contacts were people or groups that I had little contact with even when I was at TGN. Historical miniature manufacturers, oddball UK miniature manufacturers and several Spanish miniature developers that seemed oddly reticent to promote their products. Some were people that I had contact information for because they were advertisers or with whom I had a very clear business relationship. And some were people like Matt Wilson and Jervis Johnson who I had conversed with face-to-face but whom were clearly figures that spent a lot of time talking to “press” like me.
So from that list of contacts there were people that I was not surprised to have no further contact with. Why would I expect Matt Willson or some company that I dealt with professionally to contact me out of the blue? They didn’t while I was at TGN so they certainly wouldn’t do it now.
There was though, a small list of people that I talked with on a fairly regular basis with whom I was more than cordial and I would have thought that I was on friendly relations with. People who were in the business of creating games and miniatures because they were excited about the hobby and who had a desire to discuss their projects, their hobby and gaming. And it is those people that I miss and that I am somewhat surprised at the lack of communication from.
Clearly, or at least clear to me, the relationship that I thought I had with them wasn’t the same relationship that they thought they had with me. Perhaps the friendly banter I saw between two fans of the hobby was not that so much as one fan talking to someone who ran a somewhat popular website that profiled the hobby. I don’t mean to infer any malice in this or anything pejorative but there was a difference in appreciation of the relationships I had that I wasn’t aware of. This is an important lesson that I have to relearn again and again in my life.
I don’t know if this is a human condition in general or something that I am personally afflicted with but I have run into it quite a few times in my life. Perhaps the most troubling example of this was my Aunt Nena. I spent some very formative time with her when my mother was in the hospital soon after my birth and I suspect that the early childhood bonding I did was with her. I mean this as no disservice to my mother but I think that the timing of her hospital visit was, from the perspective of a young child bonding with a caregiver, at a terribly inopportune time.
My first memories are of being at her house in Giscome and most of my early childhood memories revolve around her. I spent weekends at her house and we stayed up late watching totally inappropriate horror movies. I read through her collection of Zane Grey novels and when she visited our house she spent time to sit with my and play gin rummy while my parents chatted with her husband.
She passed away a few years after I left Prince George to go to university and at her funeral the officiating priest spoke of how in her belongings there were letters for each of her children. And at the time I couldn’t fathom why there wasn’t one for me. The reason of course what that no matter what I felt about her. No matter what maternal comfort I got from her presence and her interactions with me, she didn’t share that relationship. I was her brother’s son and while she certainly had an affection for me it wasn’t the same relationship that I had with her. And because I assumed a reciprocity that didn’t exist I never felt the need to explain that to her when she was alive. It was only in her passing that I came to be aware of it and at that point it was too late to clarify it with her.
The fact that someone at Company X that I thought I was chummy with no longer emails me is certainly not as critical to me as that relationship was but they both demonstrate, to me at least, that there are always unspoken assumptions about how we relate to people.
Funny where cleaning out an address book can lead you.