By Jill Breth
A woman recently sent me this email. I met her at the Long Beach Public Library in 2009 when I was promoting my first book, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Social Media... After the presentation, she sent me a lovely note and I asked her if I could post on my blog, www.HilaryTopper.com. She agreed. I haven't heard or spoken to her since then. Just this past week, I received this note from her. It's such a heartwarming story that I wanted to share with you. I laughed and cried when I read it... I hope you enjoy!
Tommy Koenig was my first serious boyfriend when we were at Far Rockaway High School, NY back in the ‘70’s. He was a senior (class of ’71) and I was a freshman (class of ’74) when we met.
We dated the summer of my sophomore year of high school when Tommy had already completed his freshman year in college. We would go on dates to various comedy clubs like Pips in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Tommy wanted to be a comedian/actor and he was a drama major at The State University at Buffalo where he starred in all of UB’s college plays.
Tommy came to my sweet sixteen on August 18th, 1972 and drew a wonderful collage poster as my birthday present. He was a great artist and the collage was a self-portrait surrounded by all my favorite things. It was very special. I had it for many years.
Tommy had to go back to UB at the end of that summer, so we parted. I wrote to him at college with the return address saying “from no one special” as a joke. Thirty eight years later, he still had one of those letters and we re-read it. It was like a time capsule of what we were doing back then…but I am getting ahead of our story.
Anyway, we lost touch with each other…me in high school…him in college…too hard to keep in touch…it’s too hard for a college student to date a high school student…it’s impossible to have anything in common.
But over the years, I would wonder about what Tommy was doing and if he was happy. I knew he had become a professional comedian/actor because occasionally I’d see him on a TV show or in a commercial or a film or movie trailer or catch his stand up act at a comedy club. I never went backstage to say “Hi”. I figured he wouldn’t remember me. It was so long ago.
In 1998, Tommy started The Comics Studio, a workshop for professional comics, which he runs in NYC and via Skype for professional comedians around the country. He coaches these comedians in creating and fine-tuning their acts, getting bookings and advancing their careers.
In November 2009, my bookkeeping clients wanted me to learn about social media marketing so I could help them prospect for new business since I had spent 20 years working for NYC advertising agencies as a commercial artist before switching careers.
So I went to hear a lecture on that topic at the Long Beach Public Library given by Hilary Topper, president and CEO of HJMT Public Relations Inc. Hilary had just written a book on Social Media. The lecture was wonderful and very informative. I bought Hilary’s book and spoke to her after the lecture.
I loved Hilary’s book so much that I sent an email to all my friends and clients who were small business owners recommending that they buy her book and I copied Hilary. Hilary asked me if she could use my email as a guest blog. I agreed and Hilary published my email recommending her book and mentioning that I lived in Long Beach, NY and that I was a self-employed QuickBooks Pro Certified Advisor bookkeeper working on Long Island and NYC.
Meanwhile, Tommy had been thinking about me and had tried to look me up on the internet a number of times over the years…but the email address for me on our high school’s web site had become out of date and his emails always bounced back. He was not able to contact me.
In June 2010, Tommy decided to try to contact me one last time…but first he would do some detective work by Googling my name and seeing what he could discover.
He found my guest blog recommending Hilary’s book!! It was one of the only things on the internet about me.
He loved what I wrote. He thought I sounded like the girl he remembered from high school and that I hadn’t changed too much. He wanted to definitely connect with me after reading what Hilary had posted.
He decided to try to email me one more time to see if that email would get through to me successfully this time around. If not, he thought it just wasn’t meant to be, that we would reunite and he’d give up trying to contact me forever.
At the same time, I showed a friend some photos of my sweet sixteen party. Tommy was in a lot of the photos. I wondered what had happened to him after all these years.
The thought came to me that if Tommy or anyone else from high school wanted to contact me that they couldn’t do it because I wasn’t on Facebook and the email address I had posted on Far Rockaway High School’s alumni website was an old one I had closed.
So, I updated my email address thinking Tommy or anyone else could reach me. I could get back in touch with old high school friends.
A week later, I received Tommy’s email after not being in touch for 38 years.
The subject of his email said “A blast from the past”. His short message said “I hope I’m not intruding but I was wondering how you have been?”
I immediately wrote back, amazed that I had just thought about him the week before, had updated my email address specifically so he could find me…and now there he was…one week later…without using Facebook!! Amazing!!
We emailed each other for a whole month catching up on 38 years before we decided to talk on the phone or meet face to face.
In July 2010, Tommy and I had afternoon coffee at the Long Beach Starbuck’s which led to a dinner date that same day…from that day on we have been seriously dating.
On August 18, 2012, Tommy proposed to me on my 56th birthday…40 years after attending my sweet sixteen as my high school boyfriend.
He made it the most romantic marriage proposal in the world!
A small wedding is planned for sometime in 2013 after Tommy finishes performing his new one-man rock and roll music comedy show at the Bellmore Movie Theater, Bellmore, Long Island, NY on November 11th, 2012 called “Baby Boom Baby”…a musical parody of rock and roll musicians from the 1950’s through today with standup comedy aimed at a baby boomer audience.Tickets on sale at: http://babyboombaby.eventbrite.com
If it wasn’t for Hilary Topper, asking me to be a guest blogger in November 2009 and me updating my email address one week before Tommy tried to contact me one last time, we never would have been reunited after 38 years apart and we would not be engaged now.
Hilary JM Topper, MPA is President & CEO of HJMT, a full-service public relations/social media agency. She is an author, speaker and blogtalk radio show host, blogtalkradio.com/hilarytopper.
Her social media book is available free for download by clicking here.
Also, here is a link to the original post she makes reference in this blog post: http://www.hilarytopper.com/?p=835.