Friday, March 02, 2007

Google Me Gently
Part 2: In Dreams

For the past twenty years, I have kept sporadic dream journals. This is a great aid in boosting dream recall, and by focusing on my dreams, I was even able to play with lucid dreaming for a while. (That’s way fun.) Throughout this time, I would occasionally have dreams about Nikki Phillips. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to get “ikky.” The dreams were never sexual in nature.

It tends to work in one of two ways. Sometimes I dream I’m back in High School and that Nikki and I are close friends. Then sometimes I dream that we meet again as adults, and “catch up” on old times (which didn’t really happen.) It’s never romantic or erotic. In fact, my wife Lea is often in the dream, too, and jealousy is never an issue. My relations with Nikki are always warm, friendly and casual. There is a sense of acceptance. At long last, acceptance.

To the extent that I analyze my dreams, I look at it in a couple different ways. Either the dream Nikki represents my “anima,” the feminine aspects of my being, or more simply she just represents my past. In either case, I think the dreams express a desire to find peace with some part of myself. Of course, I don’t claim to be an expert at dream interpretation (and generally distrust people who say they are experts,) but that’s what I came up with. I do know enough about dreaming to realize that it’s not “really” Nikki Phillips, just a dream character with her name and face. (And even her face is fading with time.)

About a week ago, I had one of these dreams. In it, Nikki came over to my family’s house for some function (reunion, birthday party, something.) We hung out and caught up, and afterwards I drove her home. That was it. Nothing much happened in the dream, but it left me with a sense of peace and happiness that lingered after I woke up. As I have several times over the years, I wondered where the real Nikki Phillips was now.

I’ve made half-hearted stabs at locating her before, but now I vowed to do everything I could, given an internet connection and a lot of time on my hands. Now I know this sounds all creepy-stalkerish, but believe me, I had no intention of contacting her or re-connecting. My wife is a wonderful, tolerant woman, but I think even she would draw the line at me sending e-mails to a woman I obsessively crushed on in high school. I wouldn’t know what to say to Nikki anyway. I was just curious where life had taken her.

I started with the obvious. Just Googling her name. Of course, there are several “Nikki Phillipses” out there, but none of the ones I found was the one I was looking for.

Then I went on those high school reunion sites. and Plus, Glenwood High School has an alumni page. These sites only have information on people who have registered on them, and Nikki has not. (I count this as further points in her favor. I felt kinda pathetic registering myself.)

Then I started searching those “People Search” pages. They’re pay sites, but they will give up some information for free. (As a tease, I suppose, for you to shell out the $40 for a background check.) Through one of these, I found a listing for Nicole Christene Phillips, age 35, with addresses in Chatham, Illinois (my hometown,) as well as the towns of Elizabeth, Jeffersonville and Memphis, Indiana, and Louisville, Kentucky.

Back in school, in a moment of stalker-boy detective inspiration, I stole a look at her Permit in Driver’s Ed class. That’s how I found out her middle name was “Christene.” I even remember the unusual spelling.

So the name was exactly the same. The age was right. It had a listing for the same dinky (pop 5000) Illinois town. Plus, I knew from talking to her that she was from Indiana, and had always thought that perhaps she’d moved back after graduation. So this was her, right? Had to be.

With this information, I searched her name along with the towns where she’d lived as key words. Maybe she’d made the local paper for some reason. Maybe she belonged to an organization with a web-site. Maybe she had an on-line profile through her job. Wedding or birth announcement. Maybe she blogged.

Well, I didn’t find any of those things. What I did find was an obituary.

No comments: