"Is this your Bobby Hipp?" she asked and included a black and white picture.
I recognized him right away, although we probably haven't seen each other in 30 years.
My Bobby Hipp.
He moved up the street from me during middle school and he became my close friend in high school.
The story of his first day of school in Lebanon, Ohio, became a kind of legend that he retold to us.
Coming from Arkansas, he had a southern drawl as he introduced himself to his teacher. "Bobby Hipp - H-I-P-P." Imagine the extra southern accent on those Ps.
And that's how I told the story to my own kids about my friend Bobby.
We went to prom together as friends and he planted a shy kiss against my lips as he left my door and darted toward his car. Later that day, we went canoeing as the after-prom activity. Bobby and I were both awful at it and he rowed us toward the banks where a snake dangled from a tree.
I remember screaming at Bobby as we drew closer to that snake.
I'm not sure what prompted these roller skating photos. Maybe the Olympics had been on.
Not even rollerblades, awesome tennis shoe skates.
Look at the perfect symmetry of those leg lifts!
At one point, after I married a man from Columbus, Ohio, I heard that Bobby lived in Columbus. And when we moved here, I tried to find him.
My husband even looked him up on the database at work before those sorts of things became easily accessible on the internet. I called the phone number that my husband found and left a voice message, but never heard back from Bobby.
Once Facebook came around, I tried to find him too. I messaged several Bobby Hipps but never found my Bobby.
I knew, even in high school when we didn't talk about such things, that Bobby was probably gay. He had no idea if I, a small town girl, would be accepting of his life or not. Maybe it was easier for him not to connect with people from high school.
Still, this morning when Grace found him, it was for all the wrong reasons. One of her theater friends had posted that she was going to his memorial service.
I looked him up online and found out that he died unexpectedly last week while traveling in New Zealand. I can only guess at the cause since donations were directed toward a diabetes foundation.
Knowing he visited New Zealand, I was able to find him on Facebook. It turned out that he loved and visited New Zealand as often as I loved and visited France. Maybe we would have still had many things to share as adults.
A feeling of love and joy and laughter wells up whenever I think of him. I wish we could have shared some times as adults.