One Saturday night during my junior year, I stayed up until 1:40 in the morning on AIM with Chris Munekawa. I remember this distinctly because when I casually mentioned this to my mom the next day, she insinuated that I had done something inappropriate by typing words on a screen to a friend of four years. I know that I saved this conversation and I know that I stayed up so late that night because at one point Chris went off to take a shower and then our conversation resumed.
If I lived in the vicinity of my parents’ home and if they still had our Windows XP desktop, I would scan through the copious .txt transcripts of high school instant messaging conversations. My summer camp friends and crushes would dominate the archives, but the biggest files would be my conversations with Chris.
Chris and I lived one mile from each other’s houses our entire lives, yet many of the critical moments of friendship occurred over the internet. I assume that this was a function of being a teenager—where feelings transform into events in and of themselves—and where instant message chat rooms and upstart blogging platforms—immortalize them. (Unless your parents recycle your PC and buy a Mac, that is.) While writing this I began to wish that we’d spent more time in person given our proximity—but then I realized that we both had homeschooling Christian Asian parents and at least essay writing gave us a pretense to slouch for hours in front of a screen.
Out of everyone in our church clique, Chris and I probably spent the most amount of time on IM, and likely a disproportionate amount of our conversations involved positive reactions to the A’s—who nearly made it to the World Series during his sophomore year—the Giants—who missed the playoffs my entire high school career—and an analytical diatribe, likely prompted by me, about the vapidity of my faith. When we weren’t on AIM, Chris, Heather, I and our siblings took turns commenting on each other’s MySpace pages and photos. And then there was Xanga.
Some point during college, Chris deleted his Xanga account, which contained brief but beautiful sentiments and poetry. It also meant that all the insight he left on my Xanga posts also vanished. Several times I remember writing those numbered lists where you wrote anonymous messages to your readers (or not) and several weeks later I’d wish that I’d recorded who was who in my diary. I would totally love to divulge that information to Chris now because I remember him guessing where he was.
(This sentence exists to inform you that as of last night, all my Xanga musings can be found on this blog. Seriously, I imported them here two nights ago. Just remember that I was a baby when I wrote all that stuff.)
What I loved about my friendship with Chris was the gravity with which he engaged my attempts at being whimsical, intellectual, and passionate. He was a dude. He was a year older than me. His attention mattered in the way that those who spent their teenager years bland-looking, bereft of a fashion game, and firmly under the supervision of their parents intuitively understand. (Just the other night I asked Chris why we didn’t spend more time in person, given our physical proximity, and he reminded me that our parents regulated the time we spent with the opposite sex. Word.)
To this day, he treats all my manifestations seriously: the spoiled Giants fan; the football scorn; the socially-aware intellect; the eldest sibling; the questioning person of faith. He read me on the Internet before anyone ever paid me for it and I will get him published if it’s the last thing I do in my 20’s.
Christopher Munekawa. San Francisco businessman. Bay Area Asian-American. Senior year prom date. Public intellectual. Best baseball fan I know.