Archive for October, 2011
lucky thirteen, “alice,” is a woman from my quaker meeting. her laugh and smile always makes me think she is younger than she is, which is actually pretty common for me in my meeting and in san francisco in general.
she’s really really smart in a way that one could find intimidating if they wanted. she thinks hard and long about things, and her insights are always very rich. she’s also very kind and caring and that shows up hugely in her interactions with adults and kids.
one little crimp, though, in our relationship (and as i write this, i’m thinking about how it’s funny that i am about to discuss with her this crimp via an email in which i ask her permission to put it on the internet for all the world to see. oh, the times we live in!) has to do with what i think is our shynesses. early in both of our times coming to quaker meeting, we were attending some “worship sharing” sessions. (worship sharing is a quaker term for a specific form of conversation about spiritual matters. questions are posed and participants speak out of the silence, generally only speaking once to the question until all have spoken.) we were getting to know each other really well. one day, during quaker meeting, i came over and sat next to her. this was the first time i’d ever sat next to anyone. i’d had people sit next to me, but for some reason i viewed quaker meeting as something like a public bus (stephen colbert would understand) or a school cafeteria and that you shouldn’t sit next to people you didn’t arrive with until there were no other seats available. so, at the end of the meeting, we hugged, and i said, “don’t worry. i didn’t mean to sit next to you.” as soon as i said it, i realized the ridiculousness of the statement and my assumptions up until that point. and i saw it in her face, too. “i liked that you sat next to me,” she said, puzzled by why i was stating that it was accidental.
i am not sure i’ve ever completely recovered from that. she’s welcomed me and talked with me, and we’ve been on long car trips together, but i think i broke the burgeoning bond that day and have never known quite how to get it back. obviously, posting about it all over the internet will help things.
friend thirty-two, who i will refer to here as “amelia bird,” was part of what may have been the most perfect moment in my life. and fortunately for me, it was captured on videotape, and whenever i watch it, i still get misty-eyed.
at new college, there is this wonderful thing called “dance tutorial.” students choreograph dances, find other students willing to perform them, and at the end of every semester, there is an epic outpouring of love and support for these performances, which vary in range from amazingly talented to endearingly earnest to intentionally hilarious. one performance forever stands out for me. in it, three fabulous ladies danced to toto’s “africa” in a way that was definitely on the “intentionally hilarious” side of things, but there was something about it that was even more than that. i’m not sure what was so perfect about it, but to give you an idea, i will tell you that friend thirty-two wore ’80’s workout gear and a fannypack from which she later pulled out feathers, another of the performers rolled a tire across the stage, and eventually they all got the audience to sing along. when i showed the video to my girlfriend, worried she wouldn’t understand, she totally got it– it is perfect. “it’s everything that’s good about being in college.” it’s like an interpretive dance of the freedom, joy, acceptance and goofiness of that time in life. so good.
another thing about friend thirty-two is that she’s stunningly beautiful. in a lot of the traditional ways that beauty is defined in this society, but with this extra added boldness, sweetness, and intelligence that makes it more than the world expects. i’ve sat around naked with her and discussed a whole lot of things. i’ve fed her with my hands and she’s fed me with her hands at college parties. she gives fantastic hugs and is wonderful to talk to about the broad issues of the world or the things one’s heart is wrestling with.
i was about to say i saw her recently, and then realized that by that i mean 2 or 3 years ago. she was finishing up a revered writing mfa program in the midwest and was visiting one of the friends who was in that dance performance (and come to think of it, the third lady was there as well), and i got to hang out with them and help her make us all a giant amazing pot of tom kha soup. another great moment in my life. nothing will top that dance, but sharing amazing food comes pretty close.
friend thirty-three, “amy,” and i met in a car on the way to the portland zine symposium eight years ago. since then, we’ve read each other’s zines, discussed our love of pie and avocados, run into each other at a sleater-kinney concert, played animal crossing, thrift shopped, soothed each other’s broken hearts with pictures by stella marrs, and played supportive brief supporting roles in each others’ online lives. i like her a lot and have really enjoyed watching her blossom as a vegan chef and strong woman.
there’s also the way that social networking websites can be pretty crazy-making. for example, a few years ago, i found myself trying to contact my best friend from grades 2-4. i wanted to reach out to her but was terrified about all of the changes that had occurred for me, so found myself sending her a message on myspace with something cryptic like, “how would you feel if you found out your childhood best friend was now a boy?” sometimes i am unintentionally creepy. anyway, i didn’t hear anything back from her and decided our friendship was officially shot and she was officially skeeved out, etc., etc. i don’t know why i think it’s a good idea to send messages to long lost friends at two in the morning or why i think that my worked-up insecurities about those messages are based anywhere in reality.
finally, recently, i decided to brave it again. i was clearer this time, although the insecurity bred from the last lack of reciprocation was definitely clear in the message. i really really wanted to renew the friendship, but i knew that there were any number of reasons that that might not be possible or desirable for my childhood best friend, friend thirty-four, “amy b.”
but fortunately she responded, excitedly, agreeing that these reconnections are the whole purpose of facebook. currently we are politically very similar, we are both engaged, and we are both trying to focus on writing, so those are nice commonalities to have. and then there are the many many memories of the time in our life when the world was much more touched with magic than it is now. this is the girl i spent hours digging on the playground to try to unearth what we thought was a triceratops bone but what was really the cement that anchored part of the play structure. this is the girl who i cried over songs like “somewhere out there” and “the greatest love of all” with. this is the girl who told me all about the land of mordor while i told her about a red-haired orphan and we plotted running away and starting a bakery. this is the girl who convinced me there was an alien in my shower and who listened to me describe my theory that i was actually an alien dropped from my cradle at the same time an earth baby was dropped from its cradle. this is the girl who was convinced with me, that our substitute teacher who was reading us the witches by roald dahl was in fact a witch (but a good one), herself (to this day, i swear she must have at least put some sort of black substance in her mouth to help lead us to that conclusion). this is the girl who vied with me to get the new german student to kiss one of us under the play structure. this is the girl who sang with me on the swings. this is the girl that the yard attendant had to mediate many of my arguments with, due to our cockamamy theories, her creative tendencies, and my taurean stubbornness. she was the cece bloom to my hilary whitney.
in 5th grade, i moved away and she started going to the school for the gifted. when i came back, i wanted to apply to that school but it wasn’t in the cards. we had a few hangout sessions but adolescent awkwardness had set in, and her world was so much different from mine and i was a little intimidated. so after i stopped going to practices for the local youth choir, we lost touch. at some point in high school, i almost wrote a letter to the address that was still engrained in my memory. when i went to college, i met friend eighteen who had also gone to the school for the gifted, and i picked her brain about friend thirty-four. and after a few google searches, i finally braved contact the aforementioned awkward time. and then, finally, i did it in a slightly more socially competent and confident way, and now we are back in touch. hurray!
friend twenty-nine, who i will refer to here as “amber dipietra“, and i went to college together but didn’t really know each other well. she was in the group of people who in my head were the “older, cooler, poetry people.” one of the themes of this whole project is how misplaced intimidation has gotten in my way, and this is one of those cases.
recently, i was at the sfmoma and i ran into two new college students, friend twenty-nine being one of them. we became facebook friends, and from that i’ve learned that her poetry has really taken off and she’s doing some really awesome things with it. now that we’re relative neighbors, as far as the new college diaspora goes, maybe we’ll see more of each other and have actual conversations.
for about a year, i was the reluctant coordinator of the young adult group for my quaker meeting. one of the perks was that i got to meet cool young adults and try to get them involved with our meeting. one of the downfalls was that i wasn’t great at organizing events or keeping people motivated. one of the people that always wanted to be involved, despite a busy lawyer schedule was friend twenty-eight, who i will refer to here as “amanda shepard.” she’s super smart, has an excellent sense of humor and a great laugh, and now that she’s moved away i’m seeing how politically fabulous she is, posting things about all of the wacky political shenanigans in her new home, arizona.