Meris stood at the window, her fingers nervously twitching at the edge of the curtain. She dropped the curtain and clenched those fingers into a fist as she turned around to finally speak to Alison.
“That girl from West View, remember? We met her at Carissa’s bachelorette party. That’s who he’s run off with.”
Alison wrinkled her nose, trying to place a face with the description. Her jaw went slack with recognition. “Oh my God, I do remember. Her?? What was he thinking? She’s so–” She cut herself off, closing her mouth with a snap. But it was too late.
Meris’s gaze hardened. “Thanks. I guess next time my husband leaves me for some homewrecker I’ll be sure to call you for advice, since you’re so damned observant. I know she’s younger, and thinner, and prettier than I am. I think it’s time for you to go, Alison.”
Alison rose in defiance. “That sounds like something my mother would say, Meris, and you know it. And just shut up and think a minute. She may be some of those things, but none of them have anything to do with you. Robert’s the one who screwed up.”
“I’ll talk to you later.” Meris walked to her bedroom and closed the door.
Carrie’s car backfired, and she jumped, letting go of the clutch and causing it to stall out. She rubbed the tense muscles in the back of her neck and took a deep breath. Some life lessons are easier to learn than others, I guess, she thought.
“Yoo hoo!” Someone called from the garage door. “Anybody home?” It was Carrie’s main accomplice, Sky. Their annual Labor Day Weekend bash was the stuff of legend. Mostly because of that one year when the twins had one too many raspberry mojitos and tried to go home with each other’s boyfriend.
Carrie gratefully exited her vehicle, dropping the keys in the seat behind her. She welcomed Sky’s arrival because it meant tapas were near. “Just let me grab my shoes,” she called.
Sky nodded and bounced back to her own properly maintained car to wait. Carrie was horrible about being ready on time. Today Sky ran ten minutes late on purpose just to see if Carrie would notice. Her bet was on not.
Today, it only took Carrie eight minutes to find the most disgusting pair of sandals she owned. At least, that was Sky’s assumption. They might once have been Birkenstocks, but time and abuse and disfigurement caused them to look like some alien creature had attached itself to Carrie’s flesh. And the color was just gross.
Sky shrugged, and put the car in reverse. Tapas Thursday was a tradition that wasn’t worth losing over a pair of godawful ugly sandals. Besides, Carrie’s existing fashion sense wasn’t ever anything to write home about.
On the way to the restaurant, they passed the train station, which was decorated in a giant banner welcoming some gymnast to the local competition. Sky pointed a finger at it, and Carrie scoffed.
“I haven’t been interested in gymnastics since my mother stopped forcing me to go,” she said. “Not that I was interested before then, either.”
Sky laughed. “I know, silly. Just like me and piano lessons.”
They pulled up to the fine dining establishment where all the Thursday staff knew their names. Sky parked the car, and the pair walked up to the door. A moth flew down from the awning, flapping in Sky’s face, and she flailed her arms wildly at it, panicking.
“It’s just a bug, girl, you look like you’re directing a ship into port,” said Carrie.
Sky’s face was red, and she briefly tried to defend her actions, but quickly gave up and shrugged. “I know, I just don’t like them.”
They went to their usual table in the corner by the kitchen, not normally a popular table, but they liked it because the chance of the waiter dropping their tapas down someone’s back was pretty much nonexistent.
Natalio was their waiter tonight, and he was their definitive favorite. Even before they figured out the near-the-kitchen trick, he’d never dropped a single item from their order.
Sky picked up a dot of sauce with her finger and licked it off before continuing the conversation that had flagged due to their mutual admiration of Natalio.
“So, you don’t think that I’m being stupid about Fletcher, huh?”
Carrie quickly shook her head. “Of course not! He was absolutely faithless assuming that you were going to dump him for losing his job. He’s the one being stupid. I mean, a preemptive breakup over local employment? I know it sucks, but he’s being a jerk.”
“I know, but still…it just breaks my heart. I thought we were so good together. I didn’t know about the big streak of crazy he had until it was too late. But I guess it isn’t too late, since we’re broken up.” Sky shrugged. “What about you? How does your blood work look?”
“Oh, it’s fine, lately. My serum levels are down, which is good. Hopefully it’s just a waiting game now.”
Today I generated a list of twenty random words from this site. I wrote half at work this morning and finished the rest tonight. If you pay attention, you can tell where I started to struggle with the last few words!
The worst thing about Facebook is that you have to know someone’s name to find them. I’d love to look up so many people from my childhood, but I only remember a first name, if anything. and since I’m a girl, most of my childhood friends were girls, so even if I remembered their last names, they’d probably have changed a couple times by now.
I didn’t go to a school with a yearbook until sixth grade. I got that one, and all of them afterwards, but that still leaves six years of schooling and friends and neighbors that I can’t account for.
When I was three and four, and again when I was six through eight, we lived on a country road that, as far as I know, didn’t have a real name, just Route 2. I should ask my parents; my father still owned the land we’d lived on for several years after we moved away.
The first friend I remember was Aaron, a much older boy who lived across the street. I actually do remember his last name, because my mother said it often enough when talking about his mother, her friend. But there’s no finding him on Facebook. Too common a name.
Then there was Dionne. She lived down the street. I don’t know how we got so lucky as to be the only two girls for miles and the same age, but we did. I couldn’t even guess her last name.
And there was Amber from Girl Scouts. She had blonde hair and she was taller than I was when we were six. I didn’t make it past Brownie, so I’m not sure how long she was a Scout.
I can’t find them to reconnect after thirty years. And it seems crazy to me that people younger than I am can find friends they had when they were six years old. It brings back the feelings of being an outsider that I had in high school, when everyone else had known each other since kindergarten, and there I was starting towards the end of tenth grade.
But at least I’m friends with most of them.
And I did find my friend Sara Johnson. Do you know how many Sara Johnsons there are on Facebook? A lot. Fortunately her parents still had the same phone number that they did in 1987.
Chuck’s busted, bellicose banjo sat in the corner, the same spot he’d abandoned it before he left. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever see him again. If I’ll ever hear him croon some weird angry bluegrass song while sitting on my couch when we’re both high as shit. I doubt it. I heard he’s a tax attorney now.
It feels like I’ve been left behind a bajillion times. My friends are all broken, but none broken as badly as I am. They all find some way to heal and move on, or at least pretend to heal before they move on. Me, I’m just stuck in the same bad trip I call my life.
Sometimes I think I’m better off, though. They all change, they make sacrifices for society, taking white collar jobs or going back to school or making up with their parents who kicked them out when they found out who they really were.
I stay the same, through and through. I have what I need, and when I run out, it’s only a phone call away. People come and go, man, but who you are inside stays the same. Just have fun until you die, and screw everybody who ditches you along the way.
Dang, I meant to do some character sketches at jury selection this morning.
But I had a good time. You don’t ever hear anyone say that about jury duty, do you?
When I got in the police jury room, where we have to wait and watch our video and make our lame excuses and get our numbers assigned, an old friend of mine waved at me from her seat.
We Facebook on occasion, but we haven’t really hung out in a while, since we had lunch at the end of March.
So we sat and talked and laughed while we were supposed to be responsibly paying attention. Just like we were in high school again.
Both of our numbers were high enough that we were dismissed early today, with orders to call after five to see if we were needed tomorrow, but all jurors were dismissed.
It was nice catching up again. And she told me my gold glitter brows matched my personality. Isn’t that a lovely compliment?
Tonight I learned that a friend of mine passed away.
Not recently, no; it’s been nearly thirteen years.
When I was nineteen, I met a guy on the Internet. He was driving from Wisconsin to California. I talked him into detouring to Louisiana to pick me up and bring me with him. This was the 90s and we were teenagers; nothing bad could possibly happen. We were invincible.
Which makes what I read today all the more painful. He died in 2003 of sleep apnea, after falling and hitting his head.
We were invincible.
How many times has his spirit graced this blog?
I took a road trip to California with a guy I met on the internet days before. On the way home, his car died and we walked for miles in the middle of the night before a truck driver stopped to give us a ride. With a machete in my pants. Just in case, you know?
I walked three miles along I-10 an hour from El Paso with a machete in my pants at two in the morning because our car broke down (This was the one trip I didn’t make solo.). Who knows what could have happened instead of my first and only ride in an eighteen wheeler?
And dribs and drabs here and there in between.
Like when Mel at Stirrup Queens asked us who we’d like to call that we can’t just pick up the phone and call.
I would like to call the friend I met on mIRC about twelve years ago who took me on his road trip to California. It wasn’t until we were on our way back that I found out why I had to badger him so much to pick me up. He was planning on suicide, but changed his mind when I went. I received a wedding announcement from him almost a year after our trip with a picture of him and his wife, but that’s the last I’ve heard. I hope he’s doing well, and still beating his depression.
Mel and I had an email exchange about my comment, back then in 2011. I dug through my emails for twenty minutes tonight searching for it so I could tell her what I’d learned, with the context.
The whole reason I was determined to find him was my plan to write a memoir about our road trip. And now I have to write it. I have to do it right, and I have to do it well.
I’m sitting here on my brother-in-law’s couch writing this post, and Rammstein comes on: one of the bands in our massive CD playlist from the trip to California.
It’s just–I miss him so much more now that I know I can’t talk to him or send him a Facebook message. It’s so final. I cried for an hour. There’s a hole that I didn’t know was there before.
I’m missing the co-author of the machete in my pants story.