she said, “you should meet friend fifty-three, barnaby. we call him the spine-ripper.”
so, i was surprised to meet a calm, friendly, somewhat geeky young man who was really fun to talk to. when i lived in the pacific northwest, we hung out in groups a few times in seattle, and we’ve become facebook friends. i always look forward to his posts about his life and political things, as well as events that he’s going to that sound fun. he also posts about things related to all this technology stuff we are all embroiled in and when my eyes don’t glaze over, i appreciate those things, too.
for the record, he has never actually ripped out a spine, but he says that when one does, it sounds like a giant zipper, only wetter.
i was watching the dvd commentary for the tv show, “parenthood,” and it talked about how every show is based on a fantasy. i think the fantasy of “parenthood” is being close to your brothers and sisters when you grow up.
the fantasy that hooks me every time is super-close friendship– particularly the kind that bonds a bunch of girls or women together– “the baby-sitters club,” “little women,” “sisterhood of the traveling pants,” “the fabulous five,” “sleepover friends,” “golden girls,” “designing women,” “the gilmore girls,” and of course, “sex and the city.” i think i could get into something similar about guys, but that rarely happens. “the broken hearts club?” “queer as folk?”… “how i met your mother”?… but anyway, the kind of “talk about anything over brunch, be there when you are sad, make each other laugh, know each other so well” friendship is my big tv fantasy.
with moving around so much, i haven’t had a lot of it. i definitely had it in college, but since then, it takes so long to get close to someone, and all that grownup busy-ness crap that keeps you from collapsing on each other’s couches at 2 in the morning and going out for brunch on a tuesday morning and just stopping by makes it hard.
part of it is that, although i am pretty good at reaching out when i am sad, i’m also bad about what to do with other people’s needs. my social awkwardness makes it difficult for me to reach out and plan things for fear of bothering people… there’s the quaker meeting which has been wonderful, and as a big, rich, thick safety net of wonderful people, it’s wonderful, but after 5 1/2 years, i’m still quaker bff-less. which is probably okay.
but anyway, things have been really hard for my girlfriend and me since 2012 started. not our relationship, that’s really amazing, but some crappy circumstances have hit us really hard. and so, i’ve been calling people. “can you come over? we are sad.” and the people i’ve called have been wonderful. it turns out i do have “sex and the city” friends. they’re my girlfriend’s friends too– in fact that is what has made me brave enough to call them. because i know she is wonderful and always trust that of course people will be there for her. maybe i’m a bit more like big at the end of the first movie when he calls her friends up to surprise her and they all eat together, but that’ll work, too.
(actually, we’ve decided we are charlotte and harry. “not all day every day. but every day.”)
another qwindered qwint, like friend thirty, friend fifty-four and i were pen pals all through my high school years. but we really bonded over our cats. in fact, most of the letters we sent back and forth were actually missives from our cats to each other. naming her cats after lucy maud montgomery characters, friend fifty-four, or “becky s.” as i will call her here, had the neat handwriting and wholesome life that i longed for in high school, as well as a wonderful sense of humor, which is simply another name for a sense of the fitness of things…
man, does this guy have a presence.
when i started at new college, friend fifty, who i will refer to here as “RKD,” was an older student who loved the work of augusto boal. he offered workshops on theater of the oppressed which was his passion. in high school, theater in general had been one of my passions, so i was excited to participate. the interactive participation of theater of the oppressed was a fun way to be introduced to new college, its freedom, and the ways its students were passionate and thoughtful. i didn’t pursue theater of the oppressed much after that workshop, but i always had a positive perception of friend fifty.
i first met friend one when we worked together in seattle’s pike place market. our little crew there were all young, good-natured, silly folks, with a wonderful store manager who was a little bit of a mother hen to us. or at least she was to me, bearing the full brunt of my “omg, i’m completely diagonally across the country from my entire support network, my dad died last year, and even though i’ve been going by cubbie since coming out here, i’m only half out about my gender and i keep getting nasty periods” dramas. there was something really special about that job and all the people i worked with there.
this fellow was doing sound work at venues, and when we’d talk, he’d frequently use terms that i didn’t understand about the technicalities of his work or who was hip at the time. he was way more punk rawk than me, and always wore a bandanna in a back pocket. one day, a man with a big bushy beard came in and hit on him. he was amused but not interested. “your pocket was telling him that you like anal fisting,” i told him, referring to the “hanky code” that all the hip queer zines were writing about at the time.
he’d been working at the store longer than me and was in the process of learning all the ropes of opening and closing the shop. he had keys to the shop and he would say the next step was “a wife and kids.” he was ambivalent about his responsibility to the shop. his favorite parts of our job seemed to be making the paper bags pop (like the guys did at the donut shop), giving people weird advice for how to use our spices, and telling funny stories to the rest of us. that was what we all liked to do best. oh, and WORK HARD, of course.
as i was transitioning out of working at the store because i was moving to olympia, he started a relationship with a girl who, i think, met him at the shop. according to facebook, they are married and have two little ones. he seems happy and punk rawk still, even if he’s that adult that he was worried about becoming.
creative. dynamic. a little intimidating. someone with a very strong presence who stirs up the positive energy when she enters a room, i wasn’t surprised to learn that after we went to new college together, friend forty-seven, who i will refer to here as “april danyluk,” went to clown school. a snazzy dresser and fantastic performer, at college, if friend forty-seven was there, i knew whatever event i was at was going to have a beautiful and fun level of unconventionality. we lived in the bay area for a little while at the same time, and ran into each other at an event out here, but we’re still in that “friendship potential” stage of things.
friend forty-nine, “april doner arts,” is not a person, but instead the facebook presence of the art of friend forty-eight. unblinkingly real and unabashedly imaginary, her art is a beautiful addition to the town i grew up in, the kind of town where much of the art is purple pottery created by middle-aged rich white women in kimonos (she’d like me to let you know she values their art as well).