There was a girl with whom I had a brief friendship in 1995. Her name was Jessy and she was taken in by the family who lived at the end of the lane. The only thing we really had in common on the surface was that we were both sixteen, but there was an easy comfort when I was with her, and a lot of the times I was sneaking out to go down to her house because I just couldn’t be around my parents anymore. I have vivid memories of dyeing Easter eggs in her kitchen and going to the mall to buy 2Pac’s “All Eyez on Me” and a pair of purple pants from Contempo that were dangerously close to being bell bottoms.I have no idea what I was thinking.
Then one day she was gone and I never knew why. She wasn’t in school anymore, wasn’t in the house at the end of the lane anymore.
I’m not sure what made me look for her on Facebook, but I found her a few months ago. I sent a friend request with a message that started with, “You probably don’t remember me, but…” I never think anyone remembers me; that’s my inferiority complex rearing it’s gnarly head, I guess.
But she did remember me, and so we started messaging each other. Then we started texting. It took a few months and a lot of rescheduling, but we finally met up last Sunday for lunch at Panera.
She was exactly as I remembered. There is something about her, something very nurturing and maternal, that makes my walls come down. I found that I could speak freely with her, and was admitting things about myself that I would never be so quick to share. Especially with someone I hadn’t seen in fourteen years! I wasn’t even speaking with a stutter, which I often do when hanging out with someone new. But then, I associated calmness with her, because she was sort of my refuge for awhile there when things were bad at home. I’ll never forget that.
“Are you still really clumsy?” she asked. I laughed, but inside, I was really happy that she remembered that about me.
She brought a present with her. She’s been reading my blog (which is the #1 most awesome thing someone can do to prove they give a shit about me!) and picked up on my obsession with my cat Marcy. She found a cutting board that has a Marcy-esque cat on it. It’s the cutest thing!
“Henry can use it,” she laughed, knowing that I don’t cook.
Before we knew it, our Panera lunch had crept into dinner territory.
I had hoped that this wouldn’t be one of those one-time deals, that we’d make empty promises to hang out again, only to gradually drift apart.
But then she invited me over on Saturday to swim with her and her friend Pixie. I have this phobia where I feel that my friends are embarrassed to have their other friends meet me (Alisha knows!) so right away I was like, “OMG I’m a cool kid now!”
I almost didn’t make it. I didn’t have a bathing suit, and was having the worst time finding a one-piece. The middle of July is a fantastic time to shop for swim wear. I was sending her all of these “I’M GOING TO KILL MYSELF FUCK MY LIFE TODAY SUCKS” texts but she kept coming back with words of reason, plan b’s and c’s and z’s, until finally I calmed down and found something that wasn’t meant for grandmas.
Henry dropped me off at her house, happy that I had a play date that didn’t involve him. And I ended up having a great afternoon in a pool with two cool girls who didn’t make me feel lame or left out. (That is, after I walked into Jessy’s house and promptly tripped going into the living room. And I also entered the pool by basically stumbling and falling off the ladder.) And it turns out her friend Pixie likes A LOT of the same bands as me, like Pierce the Veil, Emarosa and Chiodos. I almost drowned.
When Henry came back to get me, we all stood in the yard and talked while Jessy’s husband Tommy antagonized Chooch. Chooch LOVES IT when grown-ups play with him. LOVES IT.
“You’re family now, babe,” Jessy said, hugging me before I left.
The whole way home, I talked a mile a minute to Henry, like I had just come home from summer camp with eighteen new friends.
Sunday morning, Chooch was like, “I want to go to your friend’s house again and play with her dogs.” And so Henry, Chooch and I spent most of Sunday with Jessy and Tommy at their house and it was pretty much amazing. Henry and I don’t have couple friends! And now he and Tommy are talking about going FISHING together! I can only imagine how much fodder that will give me for Henry’s fake LiveJournal!
Best of all, it was nice to see my kid have so much fun. Tommy rode him around on his quad and set off firecrackers for him. And Jessy and I only nearly let him drown in the pool twice.
Tommy and Chooch, bonding over explosives. (I didn’t bring my camera, because I’m a dummy. iPhone pics for the loss.)
Tommy and Jessy are so fun and welcoming. Apparently, there are plans to put me in a CANOE. If you know me at all, right about now you’re like, “Oh, good luck.”