"With the certitude of a true believer, Vellya Paapen had assured the twins that there was no such thing in the world as a black cat. He said that there were only black, cat-shaped holes in the universe."
-- Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Happy Reunion-- Meeting Amy Spear

I’m a sucker for a reunion.  A missing cat returns to its owner, the Brady Bunch gets back together, a lone sock reunites with its long lost mate—whatever it is, there is just something about a reunion that makes me smile.  So yesterday was a very special day for me because I got to be a part of the reunion between Amy Spear and the student ID she lost twenty-eight years ago.

If you’re just tuning in to this tale of strange coincidences and internet stalking, you may want to take a moment to catch up with Part 1 and Part 2 of the story.  The short version is that during my freshman year at UT, I found underneath my bed the ID card of a girl who lived in the room ten years before me.  Last week, I posted a picture of the card on my blog and asked my readers to help me find her.  Within twenty-four hours, we were Facebook friends.

So… this weekend I drove to Houston to meet Amy in person and finally reunite her with her long-lost ID.  It was awesome.

I saw this on my way to meet Amy.
It seemed appropriate for the occasion.

Meeting Amy Spear

I arrived at Starbucks (our designated meeting spot) first.  When Amy arrived, I recognized her at once.  She immediately gave me a big smile and a hug, which is when I noticed how much taller she is than I am.   Then we sat down at a table with our drinks (chai for me and an Americano with a few embellishments for her) and got to know each other.  I had worried that the meeting might be awkward, that she would be hesitant to share things with me, and long silences would punctuate our time together.  But my anxieties were unfounded because Amy was chatty and friendly from the moment she walked in.  During the hour we spent with one another, we talked about everything from middle school English classes to how glad we are that Facebook did not exist when we were in college.  Honestly, it really did feel more like a reunion of old friends than a first time meeting.  I dug the treasures from Jester room M645 out of my purse and spread them on the table.  We laughed over the relics dating back to 1977 and hypothesized about how fate had landed them beneath the dorm room bed.  Then I had a few questions for this woman who I had been curious about for so long.

What was her UT experience like?

Jester Dorm
Amy started out as an economics major, but ended up earning a degree in both economics and accounting.  She later graduated from UT Law School.  She said her friends were surprised to learn that she lived in Jester, the giant, prison-like dorm at UT.  Amy said, “I didn’t know any better!”  She came to UT from out of state and wasn’t familiar with the dorm options.  She roomed during her freshman year with a girl she had met during orientation.

Amy was a good student and hard worker, but she also knew how to have fun.  When she heard that her college ID had been found in her old dorm room, she asked, “Which one?  My real one or my fake one?”  The legal drinking age in Texas was nineteen in 1985 (it was raised to twenty-one in 1986) and Amy, a young freshman, had a little help getting into some of the downtown clubs.

What’s her life like today?

It is apparent upon meeting Amy that she is a happy person.  Her bubbly personality and big smile assure you of that.   And why shouldn’t she be?  It sounds like she has a great life.  Amy and her husband got married in 1993 while they were both attending law school at UT, so by the time I found her ID in 1996, she had already been going by her married name for three years.  She and her husband have three children, two boys and a girl.  (Her friends think her 1985 photo looks a lot like her daughter.)   Amy no longer practices law, but she still works part time.  She and her husband just celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary in—where else?—Austin.  In fact, she was only a few miles from my house the day I posted the story to my blog. 

How did she react when she heard that I was looking for her?

Amy was on her way back from Austin when her friend Julie called.  Julie had been contacted by her friend Missy who had been contacted by my friend Bruce.  (Only four degrees separated us.)  But at that point Julie wasn’t entirely sure what she was getting her friend into.  Her tone was careful and it put Amy on guard.  Julie asked slowly, “Did you live in Jester in 1985?”  When Amy said yes, Julie told her that someone had found something in her old dorm room and it was on the internet.  Amy asked, “Is it bad???”

Her trepidation was understandable—I mean, who doesn’t have a few skeletons in their college closet?  But after she went to my blog and saw the full story, she thought it was funny and sent me a friend request.  We connected, and from there on out she was happy to participate in my quest to reunite her with her ID card.

What’s the worst thing she's ever lost?

Her wedding ring.  About a year ago, Amy lost the ring in her office.  She and her coworkers have gone over and over the events of the day and have decided there is no other place it could be than in the office, but despite their searching, it has yet to turn up. 

When I asked if the loss was devastating to her, she said no, she dealt with it practically.  It was just a thing after all.  Although it was sad to lose the ring, it doesn’t do anything to diminish the twenty happy years she’s had with her husband—who, she noted, is on his third wedding band.  She has a new ring now and knows the other one still may turn up one day.  She did say, though, that since my friend Bruce is so good at finding things, she may need him to come look around her office.  There would be more cookies for him if he found her ring!

What’s the strangest thing she's ever found?

She had to think on this question and finally decided it was some letters that were tucked away in a piece of built-in furniture in a house she lived in. She contacted the previous owners and mailed the letters to them.  But she says she is the kind of person who is more likely to lose things than find them.

And last, but not least, I wanted to know… 

How many people told her that she shouldn’t meet me because I was probably a psychopath?

Amy laughed at this and shook her head as if it was a silly question, but then she went on to admit that her husband had joked that she should get to the coffee shop early to case the place and check me out, and a friend of hers did a little internet searching of her own and gave Amy the rundown on me—“married, no kids, she’s a writer.”  Apparently nothing too incriminating showed up, because she agreed to meet me.  I wasn’t the least offended by the caution, whether it was a joke or not.  That just goes to show she has good friends.  (I have good friends too.  I had to text two different people after I left Starbucks to assure them I had not been murdered or kidnapped by Amy Spear.)

The End of the Story

The hour I spent with Amy passed quickly and all too soon it was time for her to pick up her daughter from dance class.  Before we parted, however, Amy had a question for me.  When her friend Julie called with the news of her semi-stardom on my blog (and after she figured out that the found item was just her ID card and none of those skeletons in her closet), her first thought was, WHY?  “Why,” she asked me, “did you keep it all these years?”  And for just a moment, her question stumped me.

It’s true that I am intrigued by lost items, and it’s also worth noting that these little Jester treasures really didn’t take up any space in my life—they’ve spent the past eighteen years tucked snugly between the pages of my journal.  But there is more to it than just a fascination with the past and the fact that storage wasn’t a problem.  I’ve only called myself a writer for a little over a year now, but I’ve always wanted to be one.  I’ve always loved a good story.  I think I keep the strange things I find because deep down I think there might be a story behind them, and if I hold onto them long enough, someday I’ll find it.

I no longer have Amy Spear’s 1985 UT student ID card.  I gave it back.  But I finally found its story, and because of that, I’m glad that I kept it all those years. 


  1. Dear Carie,
    Your UT ID blog has provided many smiles for many people. I've known Amy since 1987. She was an accounting classmate and over the next 25+ years she has become a very dear friend. She has added to my life and others lives in untold ways...you clearly have the same extraordinary gift. Keep on writing! Blessings,

    1. Thank you, friend of Amy! This little adventure has been fun to write about (and to live). We never know how our lives will connect with people. I'm glad the story has brought some smiles. :)