Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Old friends

Even though she is not smiling, I love her large soulful eyes. She is sitting on our new stepstool (note to Steve: this isn't high enough!) purchased so we can access the many things in the new house beyond our reach

Happier appearing here

I brought the Ziggle over to burn off some of her considerable energy. Lots of smooth concrete to travel on. Great for the grandkids
I look at a Facebook message in the middle of the night (very early this morning!!old frenemy insomnia again). My old friend Debby (I try to change all the names of everyone except my family members) asks me 'Who in the hell is this Elly who claims to know me?"  On Throwback Thursday, I had posted a photo of myself when I was 8 or so that I had unearthed during my packing. As said before, despite my father being a photographer of considerable reputation, there were few photos of me due to my 'homeliness'. And as I had met both Debby and Elly within 2 years of that photo, of course they commented and Elly included a comment about Debby. Although they never really hung out together, I played with them separately (Elly living just a few houses from me and Debby's house was a big hike for this lazy ass), I was incredulous that Debby would have forgotten her, she who remembers so much of our joint childhood. I instantly typed back (3 am)SHE WAS IN OUR TRIO!!!!So she does remember the trio, but not Elly. I told her to troll Elly's page as Elly has not aged one bit, even had her only child in her mid-forties (who doesn't look like her in the least but maybe it wasn't her egg tho my kids don't look me either...lucky for them I have a good looking husband)

The infamous trio. I had written about this in the past as it was a big deal in my little life. Debby's mom had been the music teacher for our school and was much beloved. This mom was a huge positive influence in my life too. How I wished my mom was like her!!!! Debby was the oldest of 6 but her tiny, pretty siblings didn't look a thing like her. Why did this obviously very fertile woman adopt? Her jerky husband had had an affair resulting in Debby. The biological mom was giving her up when Debby's mom heard about it and insisted on taking her in. She never, never treated Debby any differently. But in 6th grade, Debby's mom went on maternity leave (to have the medically fragile tiny baby that I ended up babysitting before he had some near SIDS experiences). Who had the best voice in our grade? Hand's down it was Debby but her mom, not to show favoritism, excluded her from major roles. Meanwhile Elly and I imagined ourselves as singers. Elly was a popular, pretty girl used to getting her way. We were friends mainly because we lived so close. We taught ourselves guitar singing The House of the Rising Sun befitting our deep alto voices over and over. She had commented on some pictures I posted of a coffee house concert I went to with the Moms last spring. I said that the singer sang The House of the Rising Sun just like we had. She said she wants to get together but so far things keep getting in the way so I broke a loose promise to her (and to another friend from high school that contacted me wanting to be my friend in person again too that has a rhyming name to Elly's real name, both live within 30 miles of me but really didn't know each other).
Elly and I approached the new music teacher requesting a major role in the upcoming Christmas concert. After some thought, she said we could sing in a trio but Debby, again the best voice, would sing melody. Since her mother was gone, no one could accuse the teacher of favoritism. We each would get  one line solo You could build a snowman... was mine. The song was Winter Wonderland. We practiced quite a bit. Singing harmony is very, very hard as I kept wanting to sing the melody. A week before the concert I had a cold. My mother had all sorts of stupid medically unsound rules, one was that if you get your hair wet when you have a cold, you will die of pneumonia. I didn't believe this any more than fine blond hair turns black and coarse as soon as it is touched with a razor. Meanwhile I was in the throes of puberty, growth spurt making me tower over everyone including Debby who now is taller than me, large breasts with no bra (this trait I shared with Elly; her older sister told us if we didn't do something about this STAT, our breasts would hit our knees before high school. This sister died this summer) and extremely active oil glands. My straight , fine hair was the perfect mop for all this oil leading to my hair laying in dank, greasy ropes. I went on stage with this filthy hair. I really at the time wished I had died of the pneumonia. Numerous comments especially from Elly You couldn't have washed your hair?!!!? I was mortified and the cold didn't help my voice either. But Debby's strong voice carried us. Another soloist wet his pants, obvious to the audience, while singing Little Drummer Boy. So at least I was continent. I had That. The upshot of this whole experience was that I no longer was going to follow any hare-brained notion of my mom's. She knows nothing!!!!! I was going to wash my hair daily whatever the consequences and shave my legs and a whole lot of other things. I was no longer cool. The greasy hair stopped that and Elly distanced herself from me. We would only occasionally talk from then on. Debby and I remained friends for many years afterwards until I lost touch  of her due to her many moves and name changes for about a 5 year period.

Debby has had to reinvent herself many times over. She is outgoing and very feisty. During  high school, her mom was very much against the Vietnam War and took in a soldier AWOL. This jerk, I never liked him as he was a jealous, controlling person, returned the favor by impregnating Debby. They married a few months before the baby came. I did go to this wedding and did not realize she was pregnant. I was away at school. I had run into her oldest sister while home for the summer who excitedly told me that Debby had her baby. What baby!?! And the impregnator after viewing his new son went out for cigarettes never to be seen again. Maybe the Army finally found him, who knows. He vanished without a trace. One of Debby's many, many careers was being a skip tracer. She almost always got her quarry but not the impregnator. The son, now an impossibly old 42, has his unusual last name which came in handy for me hunting Debby down when she vanished from my life. All her other husbands had very common last names as was her maiden name which she has since gone back to. I knew she was moving to be near this son and his sons and found his probable address on one of those sites. I wrote him and with some bumps in the road, we found each other. (she had immediately texted me but as I didn't text, I didn't notice the text for 4 months!!)

What is she doing with that wonderful voice? Aside from being a home decorator for a cute shop her friend owns, she is the entertainment director for an Alzheimer's facility. Lately she has been getting flak from her bible thumping co-workers for 'lying' to the patients. They told her that bible says she will go to hell. Remind me never to live in this Bible Belt. As my favorite book (The Poisonwood Bible) says: There are Christians and then there are christians.  She works among the small 'c' variety. She has music time for the patients and has a programmable organ. They request songs from their past and usually the organ can automatically play it though it appears that she is doing the playing. She sings along with her booming voice. The lie of course is that she is not really playing. She also lies to the patients routinely about when their husband is going to visit them. Soon, she says. She doesn't want to break their fragile hearts over and over again telling them their husbands are dead. The christians don't share this.

Some small world phenomena concerning Debby: My second roommate I had in the hospital after giving birth to Shanna (the first roommate's most interesting facet was that her biological virginity was destroyed during childbirth) and I spoke all night. She couldn't sleep as her premature son had been taken away from her and she was worried. Turns out we had gone to the same elementary school but she was 3 years younger, too big of a gap then for friendship. But it turns out that her best friend was Debby's oldest sister. Our paths must have crossed. I could name most of this sister's friends as I was over there so much. The roommate was bussed in from a trailer park, a model she says, for Eight Mile. She had an Oprah book worthy childhood that her inner strength and many reinventions has overcome. I can't really ever whine to her about my childhood as she would win hands down Queen for a Day (first reality show. The audience would vote via the Applause-O-Meter on whose story is the most pathetic.) She his now one of The Moms. Two years ago, I met Josh's second mother-in-law. Turns out, she went to my high school in the class ahead of me. It was a huge school and we definitely travelled in different circles though her best friend (when I met her) knew my best friend (the woman in Maryland I visited). She did know a boy on my former street right next door to the director of The Michigander.From her questions, it was obvious they had dated. Although he was a year older, we'd hang as kids together. Also after Debby's husband went AWOL, he became Debby's boyfriend. So Debby and Josh's MIL had the same boyfriend.

Inner nag is kicking in. I was going to drone on and on  about how two close friends from my freshman year were born 2 days apart (one being today).

I look at my phone this morning and it says: Call me ASAP!!! Josh asks: Are you busy? The truck is coming in 2 days and everything they take needs to be emptied, you tell me. Bottom line, after a very sad tale they are going to need some deep thinking about, they need Steve to watch Allie. Careful readers will note that Steve was fired from his Allie tending services or quit in disgust but the situation must be dire for someone to reconsider. His crime was not following Allie's dietary concerns to the letter. He honestly couldn't hear them as he never has his hearing aids in around children as their shrieking can be painful. Allie prefers Steve even over her own parents. He is the best baby sitter for young babies there is (not so much for older kids). I told desperate son a few things: one, you need to ask Steve himself, I am not his agent. Two: you owe us big time. You are coming here tonight and moving all sorts of heavy things for us. Three: patch things up with your sister Four: train the other grandfather who lives much closer, has much more time on his hands even though he is afraid of the fragility of babies and left almost all aspects of child rearing to the mom. Five: stop burning all these bridges.

So Steve is gone and I have a long list  of things I should be doing aside from being on the computer. I didn't even run for the past 2 days.


Elephant's Child said...

A really thought provoking post. I am going to mull over it for some time. Thank you.
Families can be difficult animals can't they?
And I love Barbara Kingsolver's work. I have an autographed copy of Flight Behaviour which I treasure.

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

I love most of Kingsolver's work too though Poisonwood Bible I still my favorite. I got another message from Debby (doesn't read my blog). She remembers my home as a place of refuge from the chaos at home even though she had a very strong mom, the drunken dad was hard to deal with along with the 5 siblings. Her mom had to work and the house was a mess. Our house was very quiet until my father, who although didn't drink, would go into rants and rages for no reason. He did behave himself more when there was company. It is strange to me that someone would find my house pleasant during those times because I certainly didn't.


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