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09 October 2006 @ 07:46 pm
I started writing an account of this Saturday past. What was supposed to be an entry about my HS reunion turned into something else entirely. So... it's long, but it's what fell out of my fingertips.

Here’s the thing. I was a geek in high school. I was gawky and awkward, all angled limbs and sporadic acne, badly feathered hair and the wrong clothes and too much love for books and too little social ability. I loved fantasy. I read it and wrote it and breathed it in and out. I was sure - absolutely certain - that it was only a matter of time until I was plucked out of the everyday and into some great, epic adventure in a far land. I would be special. I would be important. I would matter.

That never happened.

Part of me is still on the lookout for that chance - some test, some challenge that must be met before one might step across that threshold - I don’t think I will ever quite give up that hope. There is a Ring still lost, and only a fellowship of the truest hearts might seek it out. Charles Wallace is a man grown, and returns to Gaudior’s land to find the fragile twilit beauty fractured, twisted, wrong... and only one person might help. Gwydion calls. Merriman whispers, “Not the last. There is one more...” Jareth waits at the end of the Labyrinth.

The other part is a grown-up patched-over version of the scrawny, hapless kid.

We drove up early to see Mom and Dad. They’re still in the house we moved to the summer I was twelve. I’d just left Wisconsin, a best friend who (conveniently) lived right across the street and a horse farm where I could accrue endless hours of riding time for equally endless hours of shoveling stalls. It was heartbreaking. I knew, deep down, the chance of any sort of fulfilling life was forever lost to me. At twelve, my life was over. I would have to endure the next five years of school with a bravado and stoicism unmatched in history and literature.

The very first day I was at the house on Sand Road, a girl walked down the block and up to my doorstep. She introduced herself as T... and that was pretty much all it took. She was my age, lived three houses away, and was the best of friends with another girl, I. Mondays and Tuesdays were 99 cent nights at the Bank Street Theatre and they always wore certain t-shirts when they attended. They were making collages and they had extra pictures cut out and did I want to come down to T’s house?

And for the next four years, it was the three of us. It was more than that, to be truthful. It was others, too, but at the core it was T. and I. and myself. Evenings, after visiting, T. and I would walk the other to the halfway point, between the Durdock’s and the Lambs’ mailboxes. If it was especially dark, we’d say goodnight, take a deep breath, and run for all we were worth back toward our respective homes. There were things waiting in the darkness -you know this at thirteen - and if you only run fast enough, don’t take more than three breaths, hit the patch of light by the fiftieth stride, all would be well. We three started a pseudo-religion, utterly on a giggly whim, based on our names. I recall that wearing tissues on our heads figured in somewhere. So, too, did punch-buggies. We went rock-walking down the stream (river, actually, though it was fairly unprepossessing where it slid past our soil) in mine and T’s backyards. We built dams and caught (and immediately released) minnows and crayfish, we argued and made up and shared books and started to find out who we were, who we might be. We passed notes and stared at boys, we played pooh-sticks and ran wild through soft summer nights, rode bikes without wearing helmets, made cookies and popcorn and slept over at one another’s houses. I covered T.’s paper route when she was on vacation. Took a header over the handlebars of my bike and got myself a very thorough concussion (no helmets, remember?), hospital stay and all, but damned if I didn’t finish the route first.

When we heard T. was moving the summer before senior year, we tried to pretend that that was okay. When her folks were away, house-hunting in her soon-to-be new home state, we stayed over. We cooked a meal - ever so grown up! - and were horrified when, as we tried to open a window, we cracked the glass. I can’t speak for I., but I know that for my part I was hoping that would somehow be enough to keep the house off of the market, to cancel the move, to force T.’s family to stay three houses away from me for oh-please-just-one-more-year.

Senior year it was I. and myself... only she was suddenly more self assured, ever so much cooler, than me. She’d found a way to embrace being on the outskirts, so much so that she really wasn’t on the outs any more. Yet she was still my best friend. She could have dumped me for the greener fields of popularity, but she really didn’t care about that. We started talking to A Boy. Sharing notes, chatting... she ended up dating him. She went to Prom. I was happy for her, a little sad for me. We kept in touch with T - she wrote long, chatty, multicolored letters. We sent earrings and bright colored pens and pictures back and forth. And, if correspondence started to slip, we three would have parted ways to go to college the next year, anyway...

And we did. T. was out west. I. went south. For my part, I attended local university: too timorous to leave home. And then it became a ‘help out at home’ situation when my Grams moved up to live with us. Not complaining; just made it easier to stay than to strike out as I might otherwise have done.

We all finished college. I., in love with her best male H.S. friend, found the feeling was mutual. They travelled together, got engaged, got married. T. and myself were in her wedding party. Even now, looking at the pictures, I smile. We are all rather gorgeous, young, happy. I. is absolutely beautiful; it brings tears to my eyes.

Then, T. met someone. I wasn’t there for the wedding (it was on the west coast, and I was most definitively NOT), but I. was.

Then, years after that, there was Don. T. and I. were in my party, along with my sister and Don’s. And... that was the last I saw of T., and almost the last of I.. Maybe twice after that, but our lives went different ways. I was heavily involved in Faire, more so every year. She and T. were on the other side of the country. They started having kids. I started jousting.

And let’s face it, folks... I suck at keeping in touch. If I get a letter, an email, a note, a card, and I don’t answer it at once? I start to feel odd. The longer I wait, the harder it is to respond. It feels - forced, I suppose. Wonky. And then I start in on the “they must hate, loathe and all ‘round despise me.”

Fast forward to the reunion. I decided to go, and not long after that saw their names on the guest list. I was terrified. I’d not been in touch with them forever... they must hate, loathe... yeah. You get the picture.

At the last minute I found I.’ s email address. Sent a quick, jovial “hey! I suck! see you tomorrow!” note. No reply, but then it was mere hours before the reunion. Drove up to CT the day of the reunion, stopped at my folks’ house. We were out helping Mom unload groceries from the car. We noticed another car on the road, driving by at a ridiculously slow speed.

It pulled into the driveway.

I peered at it.

Gasped. Leapt toward the passenger door...

It was I.. And, as it happened, T. was walking down the street with her husband, not far behind I. and her car.

It was as if no time had passed. We three were in my yard, near the stream. It all came rushing back: summer nights and the cool water and first days of school and awful clothes and 99¢ night at the Bank Street theatre and squabbles that never mattered, really, because we would always all be friends, no matter what.

Dear Reader, we were.
I feel: nostalgicnostalgic
The Only Sane One: [Awwwww!]ravenclawizard on October 10th, 2006 12:07 am (UTC)
I cried a little. Really I did. *hugs* That was an amazing story, and I can only hope that my friends and I one day have a bond like that.
moileaflette on October 10th, 2006 12:38 am (UTC)
That nearly made me cry, Kelly. So fantastic. I'm so happy you met up with your friends again. :)

I think the next few months are seriously obscenely busy for me but I'd like to maybe see you next semester, if that's alright and if we can figure that out?

Oh, and by the way: you're a phenomenal person, really you are.
Kel: sweet smile Roslinladyjoust on October 10th, 2006 10:32 pm (UTC)
And your response just made me cray a little. *hugs*

I would LOVE to meet up with you! I'm not going anywhere, dearling. Next semester is absolutely fine.
harpiegirl4harpiegirl4 on October 10th, 2006 01:18 am (UTC)
Oh, Kelly, what a lovely story. It's one of the most vivid and compelling portraits of a friendship I've ever read. Please, for the love of the gods, publish that somewhere!

Kel: Rose-heart-Nineladyjoust on October 10th, 2006 10:34 pm (UTC)
Wow... thank you! As to publishing the piece: that never even crossed my mind. I may rewrite a bit (already I'm wincing over certain repetitions and awkward phrases (perfectionist much?)) and look around to see who might be interested.
the_wild_bunny on October 10th, 2006 01:33 am (UTC)
That was beautiful.
Mairearanturas on October 10th, 2006 01:44 am (UTC)
What a great story....I love connecting with people who I haven't seen in many, many years and getting that just like yesterday feeling. Of coutse, you made it sound even better, wish I could write like you......
Sarahkachi113 on October 10th, 2006 02:00 am (UTC)
Friends forever, yay =)
Ratesjul: bubbleratesjul on October 10th, 2006 04:56 am (UTC)
Oh, what a story!! That was absolutely beautiful, my dear.

*hugs gently*

And, by the way, YOU DO NOT SUCK!
Kelladyjoust on October 10th, 2006 10:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, lovely. *hugs back*

And I do suck just a wee bit, from time to time. Can't be helped. This model must be flawed. :P
Ratesjul: brain spinningratesjul on October 10th, 2006 11:16 pm (UTC)
Not flawed, just Human!

Fjordhopperfjordhopper on October 10th, 2006 09:54 am (UTC)
Wow. Lovely story!

And btw, that writing thing? You have a gift, a wonderful way of engaging the reader....please, keep writing!!!
Jobs, baby, Jobs!: Bruce Campbellpicoland on October 10th, 2006 10:28 am (UTC)
yes, most definitely, a very engaging( literally) story....kind of Anne Tylerish sprinkled with some Alice Hoffman
(no subject) - trongersoll on October 10th, 2006 03:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)