Friday, August 27, 2010

Teen Angst

Guess what I was doing this morning, Mom? Besides trying to clean off the top of my desk (which I think is gray, if I'm not mistaken. It's been so long since I've seen it), while completing various tasks on my new computer (did I tell you I got a new computer? It's a 27" iMac. It's like having a hi-speed lo-drag computer AND a 27" plasma TV on my desk. If Wayne ever gets the EyeTV hooked up like I asked him to 6 months ago, I may never leave my office... but I digress), anyway, while I was doing that, I was listening to Sandy's CD that she made for you. Aside from it being an incredibly well written and performed show, two things about it made me sad.

1. You never got to hear it. You would have loved it. She is so talented. And even though she gives her Girl Scout leader credit for starting her off on her career by giving her the lead in Cinderella in the 3rd grade (She was Prince Charming [not Cinderella], and she tells a wonderful story about being permanently emotionally scarred by having to wear tights with her tunic in public), I suspect having you for a music teacher for those first 6 years gave her the love of music that led to the singing in the basement into a broom handle that lead to years of standing-room-only community theater performances and a blossoming career as a cabaret performer. But that's just my opinion. I only listened to Act I so far;

At Sandy's parents' house circa 1981.
Notice the Diet Pepsi can prominent in my hand.
and 2. that I regret all the years we lost because I was jealous and pig-headed, and yet I'm still so jealous of her. I know we were just kids back then. And kids do stupid things, and say stupid things, and hurt the people they can least afford to hurt. She was my best friend, the keeper of all my secrets, the yin to my yang, the Abbott to my Costello. Sometimes I wonder what my life might have been like if Sandy and I had stayed friends. Would I have dated some of the lunkheads I dated? Or would my best friend have knocked some sense into me before I got in too deep. And would I have been there for her when some guy broke her heart? Would we have sat on the couch together eating ice cream and crying like girlfriends ought to? Would I have stood up with her at her wedding, and would she have stood up with me at mine? Would she have sat at my bedside while we giggled over my newborn daughters? It's hard to say because had she been my best friend all those year I might not have made the choices to go to Lansing, and then to San Diego, and finally to Fort Hood, Texas, where I've made my life with my husband and where my daughters were born.

It's not that I regret my life. I don't. I have a wonderful husband who loves me unconditionally, even though that doesn't always include picking up after himself, putting his breakfast dishes in the dishwasher or completing a project in under a decade. I still love him and have never known anyone who loved me for me the way he does. I have two beautiful daughters. They exasperate me and drive me to lose my mind from time to time. But then I think about what life would be like without them, and I forget what it was they did that made me so mad in the first place. I have two parents who did the best they could to raise me right, and Daddy and I are closer than ever now. And I have a wonderful church family who have been so supportive over the last 11 years. They have prayed me through pregnancies and miscarriages, illnesses and loss. I know it was my adventurous spirit along with the consequences of choices (both good and bad) that led me to where I am today. But I still miss my best friend.

At my parents' house, July 2009.
Notice the Diet Coke bottle sitting prominently on the table.
See? People really can change!
I'm so glad I contacted her last summer. I was scared to death that she would reject me, but she didn't. It felt like old times being together and telling stories and getting caught up. It came crashing down on me just how much I missed her, and how deeply I had loved her all these years. I may have acted like it didn't matter when you would see her at the Mall and tell me that she didn't ask about me. But it hurt like hell. And as we sat at your kitchen table looking at wedding pictures, I would feel this empty place in my heart right about where I should have been standing in those pictures. And I think back to my own wedding and how empty it felt not having a best friend to throw me a shower or to go with you and I to all get our hair done for the wedding. There are so many moments I think would have been so much richer if my best friend had been there.

God's timing is infinitely wonderful, though, because had I not contacted her when I did and had lunch with her last summer when I was home, she and I wouldn't be friends now, and she wouldn't have been there for me when you passed away. Mom, you would have been so tickled. I know it blew me away. She came for the visitation and stayed for nearly the whole thing sitting with Wayne over to the side and just being supportive, even AFTER the power went out at the funeral home during a thunderstorm and it got unbearably hot and humid in there with the doors open. Then she went with Wayne and I to eat at West Point Lounge afterward and regaled him with stories of our misspent youths. (He told me later that meeting her and spending time with her gave him a much greater insight into me and what I was like before I met him, and he was so grateful for that.) She even came to the funeral the next day, sitting unobtrusively toward the back. And then she invited me over to her house one last time before I left. Dad was gracious enough to watch the girls while I went and had some girlfriend time over at Sandy's the night before the girls and I headed back home. We sat on the couch with our feet up just the way I imagined we would have for the last 25 years had we not been so stupid and pigheaded. And maybe I'm too full of myself (which I have been known to be in my 48 years here on earth) but I let myself believe that it was because even though we hadn't been together for those 25 years, she still loved me as much as I loved her.

Isn't it funny how we can love someone so much and yet be so green with envy. Listening to her CD I felt myself being so jealous of her.  I was jealous of her talent, but mostly of her confidence, her ability to put together a wonderfully entertaining evening, to surround herself with talented musicians, and to get up there and "WOW 'EM." I wanted to be her, to be up there on that stage still wowing them. But I didn't stick with the voice lessons like she did, and I ruined my voice with cigarettes for 20 years, and mostly I just never had the confidence that she has. She was always prettier, and smarter, and funnier, and skinnier... why do I suddenly feel 18 all over again? Is that a zit I feel forming on my forehead?? But I bet if I could ask her, she would probably say the same things about me and the things I have accomplished of which she was jealous. That's just how teenage girls are.

So I snap back to reality. Sandy lives in Michigan, and I live in Texas. We will never be those "best friends" I always imagined we would be when we were 19 and wondering what our lives would be like when we grew up. We are who we are, we are where we are, and it is what it is. She's not a part of my life here in Texas, and I will never be a part of her life there in Michigan (although as long as Dad stays in Jackson, I will have a reason to go up there and see her). But she is a remarkably talented woman, and I am so lucky to call her my friend, however we define that word from here forward.

I love you, Mom, and I miss you so much.

Love, Julie

1 comment:

  1. Julie, that rates a phone call from another jealous woman -- me! What a great, introspective piece. Keep writing!