Yearbooks

***Update on the ant bite: My bicep still rocks, but the bite swelled and split open this morning, only to close up, turn green in the middle again, and start swelling again… we’ll see how it looks in the morning, now! (And the coach’s bites did not turn green, he said, but one was hurting a lot.)***

We now return to regular programming.

There is a guy working with me who graduated high school with my youngest brother.

I pulled out the yearbook from their senior year today, and had a brief look through the senior photos.

I enjoyed how much hair this guy and my brother both had in their photos, and how they both have almost none now, and both keep their heads shaved (though my brother uses a razor, and the other guy only seems to buzz it as short as possible).

One thing I noted was that their service work locations seemed almost stereotypical for each of them…. interesting, perhaps.

Something bigger, however, was the other people I found in the yearbook.

I crossed names of people whose faces I knew not, but whose names I knew well from my brother – how fun to put faces to the names, even almost two decades after the fact.

And then I realized that I finally had the opportunity to look up and remember my brother’s best friend’s full name – I forgot his middle name a few years back, and haven’t recalled it since…. I just always thought it was fascinating, because he was the fourth with the name, so he had a “, IV” at the end of his legal name.

And I use the past tense here, because he died at the start of their sophomore year of college.

It was drinking and a bit of drugs at a party, and everyone thought he’d simply fallen asleep, but, of course, he hadn’t… I’ve always remembered most that my brother was invited to that same party, but chose to work on his absurd amount of homework, instead (thank you, UT Architecture program [not for the first time]).

And so J—– died at the party, and my brother spoke at the funeral, at the request of J—-‘s family, and he did a wonderful job.

My mom and I also attended the funeral, along with a lot of people.

After the funeral, since J—- had always said that he wanted to go out with pinwheels and fireworks, we (a handful of select people that happened to include my mom and me) went to an open land area across from a movie theatre, and set off a bunch of little rockets and a few big shebang fireworks (the pinwheels had decorated the casket) – it was a true party and celebration to send off J—- and to say goodbye together.

When I came across his name today, I was delighted – I finally have it(!).

And then I gave his photo a good look.

And it was almost terrifying as an experience, though terrifying just is not quite the right word…

It suddenly occurred to me that this was the first time I’d seen a photo of J— since around the time of the funeral – I’d only had mental visions of him since then.

It was weird to think that, u like my brother and that other guy, J— had not aged from this photo… maybe two years’ worth of aging, but that was little different from the boy who sat in the frame that is in front of me now.

These were posed senior portraits for the yearbook, and so they each are looking directly at the camera…, directly at the viewer of the photograph… J—- was no exception…

And it was spooky, knowing that those eyes, so true and almost penetrating in this photo, were no longer here, no longer existed.

And then, it had me wonder how many people in this book, this yearbook are no longer around?

And that was perhaps even spookier…

I had to move on to other things then, both in terms of productivity and in terms of an emotional desire to step away from the increasing discomfort and potential sadness of what sat before me, visually and mentally, at that moment, and so I closed the book, put it back in its place, and walked away.

I soon had tears in my eyes, and the feeling of hollowness just behind the bottom of my ribs was growing.

Now, hours later and many tasks and conversations later, I feel less afraid, and more aware of the fleeting aspect of life, the circumstances that allow us a promise of a chance at everything, and at a chance of it all going away at any moment, in a moment’s time…

On my way up to the house where I am housesitting tonight, I passed their church, where J—-‘s funeral had been… I think of him every time I pass it (though that doesn’t happen too often), because it’s the only thing I’ve ever attended there…

……

I don’t have anything insightful about this… I just wanted to share…

Post-a-day 2019

Best Friends

When my best friend and I talk, even about the most serious or important of things in life, we never fail to be utterly ridiculous somewhere in there, and crack ourselves up to the point of tears.

Today was no exception, as our planned important and serious conversation had a solid beginning that included my pushing the laptop camera quickly backward, as a means of expressing a digital version of tackling someone, and then we even somehow used the phrase “like a butt flapping in the wind”.

Best friends are great.

Thanks for that, God. 😉

Post-a-day 2018

College

He had stayed home that night, because his program was intense – he had a lot of work to do.  He had been invited, but he didn’t go, because he did work instead.  His best friend went, though.  He wasn’t in such an intense program, and could spare the night off easily enough.  Everyone there had thought that the best friend had fallen asleep.  Perhaps he had.  Eventually, though, the combination of this and that and ecstasy had stopped the best friend’s heart and life.  But everyone thought the best friend was asleep.

He had stayed home that night, but his best friend hadn’t.

Contemplating how things could have gone differently, if he had gone to the party that night, now that is one easy way to go crazy.

So, I don’t.

Post-a-day 2018

Teatime with the girls

A sort of short story about a girl’s casual, 30-second train of thought.

……………………………………………..

“…I go on a job interview there, and that’s how we finally meet up, and discover that we really do like one another in a dating capacity.  And so, I start working over there, and we start dating.  That’s easy enough, you see,” says Eliza.

“Okay…” replies Karen speculatively.  “And then?”

“Well, and then we realize that we totally love one another,” continues Eliza, “and we’re ready to get married.  But the question is whether we get married here or over there.  If we got married there, it would be totally classy and cool, but then all of my family and friends here likely would miss out.  But then, I think, what people here do I really care about having at my wedding?  Most of them would be invited only so I could show off my amazing husband and wedding to them, anyway.  And wouldn’t it be accomplishing the same thing by getting married in Europe instead, where my husband is from?  It shows how he’s exotic, and so am I, getting married over there.  Plus, then all the ladies could wear their fabulous hats and everything would be so chic and practically straight out of some fashion magazine.
“I would have a dress that is inspired from the princesses’ wedding dresses in London over the years, with a hint of French flare and loads of my own personality, all tied together beautifully and stunningly.”

Karen cuts her off, “You have the dress planned already?”

“Well, I’m not sure about the whole thing exactly, but I know how the sleeves would look, and they’re spectacular and classy.  And YES, they do exist, despite all this recent fashion of sleeveless wedding dresses.  So not my style.”

Karen shakes her head, and takes a sip of tea as Eliza continues.

“Anyway, so that could be cool.  And we’d have a super-fab old Church for the wedding, and that would be amazing and not cliché, because it’s actually just normal in Europe.  But then, we’d have to have some kind of something here in the US afterward.  I’m not sure what, exactly, but something to celebrate specifically with everyone here who couldn’t make the trip.  But nothing lame.  Too many people do a lame ‘Oh, we couldn’t invite all of you to the wedding, but we still want to celebrate with you’.  Aka ‘Give us presents, even though you weren’t good enough to be invited to the wedding.’  Not to be harsh, but you get the point…”

“Who’s she talking about?” whispers Lorena, who has just returned from flirting at the tea bar.

“The guy from the photo I showed you yesterday,” replies Karen, sighing.  Lorena accepts this, and begins to process what Eliza is saying.

“Then we’d continue living over there, and it’d be perfect, because it lines up with my wanting to live over there, and we’d be so close for an easy trip up to visit Christine and her husband whenever we wanted for a long weekend or whatever.  Or I could go alone super easily.”

Astounded, Lorena cuts in, “You mean you’ve already decided on wedding plans with this guy?!  You haven’t even gone on a date, yet!”

“He hasn’t even asked her out,” chuckles Karen.

Only slightly defensively, Eliza replies cooly, “Well, if we can’t agree on a wedding location and place to live, then it isn’t really worth bothering dating in the first place, now is it?  We’d be wasting our time if we knew so soon that it never would work out, yet went forward with it all, anyway.”

“She has a point,” allows Karen, raising her eyebrows.

After a pause, Lorena replies, “True…  I still hold that you’re nuts, Eliza.”

“I’ll second that,” throws in Karen.

“Third it!” laughs Eliza.  “Oh, I know I’m totally nuts.  That’s why it’s so important that a guy and I be compatible through and through before we bother starting anything.”

They erupt in giggles and laughter, enjoying the ridiculousness of the conversation, and knowing how true Eliza’s statement really is.

“Weirdo,” says Lorena, playfully.  “Okay, let’s have some lunch.  I’m hungry, and now all I can think about is smoked salmon…”

The other two frown questioningly at her.

“What?  You were talking about weddings.  Weddings always make me think of smoked salmon.”

“Weirdo.”

“Total weirdo.”

Lorena laughs, “Whatever.”

……………………………………………..

Post-a-day 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asian-English teatime with the bff sister

This evening, by a wonderful unfolding of events, I ended up having tea with my best friend’s little sister.  As my best friend’s little sister, she holds a sweet spot in my heart.  What’s more, the fact that she’s the first person I’ve seen go from little kid, singing nursery-rhyme-type songs, to a mature young adult (and soon full-blown adult), makes that spot even sweeter.

As we sat in the tapioca teahouse, drinking our warm (Taiwanese style, I think – at least, that’s what a friend of mine saw constantly while in Taiwan, and which we haven’t seen much elsewhere) bubble tea, our attention somehow turned to the menu on the wall.  Naturally, we hadn’t thought anything special of it when we actually were looking at the menu to order earlier on, but it was suddenly relevant to our conversation, so our attention turned to it.  She is studying Mandarin this year (since August), and I’ve just moved here from Japan.  So, we have some common ground on understanding Chinese characters.  (For those who don’t know, Japanese kind of stole the characters from Chinese, and adapted them a bit, so loads of them look exactly or almost exactly the same and have the same or very similar meanings.)

We joyfully pointed out that “ice” was on the end of each name in the ‘Snowy Drink’ category, and that “little” was next to one other character on the “Snacks” sections – likely ‘little meal’ or ‘little food’.  Something like that.  And then we discussed how we were scouring the menu, picking out little pieces that we understood.  It was like a fun little puzzle that we were putting together, piece by piece… one that we know will take months, even years, but the timing of which doesn’t seem to bother us in the slightest.  We’re just excited that we’re able to make the little sense of it all that we already can.  And we aren’t even using the same language to do it, technically, making it simultaneously that much sillier and that much more awesome.

So, we got to enjoy one another’s company and be nerdy language-lovers together, while sipping warm asian versions of English tea (Earl Grey) on a cold, cold night (for Houston, anyway).  Blessings abound when open our minds and schedules to them, it seems.  And I am grateful for this one in particular.  🙂

Post-a-day 2017

Singing, Showering, and liking you better…

Today, I sent a message to my best friend that read, “For some reason, I regularly think about messaging you when I go to the bathroom”

Her response was prompt and simple.  “Lol,” followed by, “You like me so much better when youre naked”

“Duh,” was my casual response.

You see, the whole thing started back in college.  Freshman year, I was Skype-ing with Christine one day, probably early morning.  I had gone into the common room to chat with her, but, since we were in an all-girls dormitory, and it was too early for visitors to be around, I wasn’t fully dressed (probably just a t-shirt and underwear).  When we started the call, she let me know that a friend of hers was with her, and that it was a guy (because it was already afternoon in Cambridge, England, so it was normal to be hanging out with people already there). So, I had to go put on some more clothing before we turned on the camera.  (At least, I think that was the case… she might have just checked to make sure I was properly clothed, because I regularly would be not fully clothed.  Either way, the next part did happen.)  When I commented about this, the guy friend of hers made a comment about liking someone so much better naked (I forget if it was about Christine liking me, or what, but it was totally silly, and seemed such an odd comment.)  We both were lacking in understanding at first, but he explained that there was an actual song (by Ida Maria), and that that was the line the girl used in it.  (See, it made sense and wasn’t actually weird at all.)

The chorus goes like this:

But I won’t mind
If you take me home
Come on, take me home
I won’t mind
if you take off all your clothes
Come on, take them off
‘Cause I like you so much better when you’re naked
I like me so much better when you’re naked
I like you so much better when you’re naked
I like me so much better when you’re naked

We found it hilarious.  We found the actual song and music video, and fell in a sort of this is silly and utterly ridiculous, but I still love it kind of love with the song.

I shared it with my hallway neighbor, who played guitar, and we tried playing it a bit on the guitar.  I eventually played it for Christine one day on Skype.  My greatest, proudest achievement with the song, however, was the time I snuck into the bathrooms (they were shared, and had loads of stalls and multiple showers) one day, just after Jessie, the neighbor, had gone in to shower.  Once I knew she was actually in the shower, showering, I walked into the showering area (mind you, not into her stall, just in the showering section of the bathroom), and began playing the song on guitar, and singing it to her.  I could hear her snorting, gurgling, guffawing laugher emitting from the shower stall as I sang and played.  It was spectacular for the both of us.  I shared the story with my best friend, too, and she loved it.*

So, the song has always held a special little place in our hearts, minds, and lives, all three of us.  Everyone else probably just thinks we’re crazy, whenever they overhear us mentioning or quoting or singing it.  😛

Here’s a link to the music video.

 

*This reminds me… I sang to a friend of mine in Japan while she showered one night.  We were chatting on the phone, just hanging out one night, after we’d both gotten internet, and so didn’t have to hang up after every five minutes anymore, and she really needed to shower, but we weren’t ready to end our conversation/hanging out.  So, she set the phone to the side on speakerphone, and I sang to her while she showered.  I had been humming and singing quietly already anyway, so what was the difference if I just did it a little louder, right?  It was spectacular, of course.  Then a night or few later, when I mentioned to another friend that this had happened, he complained that I didn’t sing for him and that that certainly wasn’t fair.  And so I sang to him over the phone… and he fell asleep.  😛  Spectacular in a different sort of way, I guess, but still spectacular.  🙂

Post-a-day 2017

 

my childhood bestie

I talked with my childhood best friend tonight.  It was wonderful.  We haven’t talked much in the past year, simply because she’s been busy as ever, and I’ve been over in Japan.  We still weren’t in the same place tonight (Facebook Messenger video chatting), but being in the same city really helps with the timing thing.

Talking with her always brings up loads of memories from my early childhood, most of them wonderful. There are only a handful of not-so-good ones, though they were all rather impactful.  Mostly, though, the good memories come to mind.,. Like the time she and I watched “Lake Placid”, shortly after seeing “Deep Blue Sea”, and we ended up jumping all around on her furniture after the film, somewhat joking, but also somewhat paranoid that a gator would pop out from under the sofas and eat our legs off… Or the time my mom was at work, and my friend invited me to come over, so I left my mom a message on her pager, telling her when and where I was going, and I very clearly stated the phone number of my friend’s house, and repeated it (even though she could look up the number in the school phone book once she was home, if needed), just as was desired if I were to go anywhere while she was gone…, even to be complimented on it later by my mom, but told that I unfortunately had given my mom my mom’s number, not my friend’s house.  Those might have even been from the same day…, though I really don’t remember for sure.

For my birthday one year, she and her mom decided to give me some money and a gift bag of macaroni and cheese boxes.  Almost every time I went to their house, I would end up eating mac ‘n’ cheese, so they decided it was a perfect present for me.  I loved it, of course, for the pure genius of it, as well as the love and attention that went into the present, despite its being quite simple.  I really did love mac ‘n’ cheese.

There are two sad memories that always come to mind regarding this best friend.  Though, one of them was actually kind of happy, because of what it meant to me.  The one memory, the more sad one, was when we were riding the bus for a field trip, and she and I were playing a hand game.  She was sitting by the window, back to the window/wall, and I the same for the aisle.  The game was this one:

That’s the way
Uh-huh, uh-huh
I like it.
Uh-huh, uh-huh
That’s the way
Uh-huh, uh-huh
I like it.
Uh-huh, uh-huh
I got the looks.
You got the books.
Splish, splash
In your face.
Brick wall, waterfall
Girl, you think you know it all.
You don’t.
I do.
So *poof* with the attitude.

On the *poof*, my friends and I usually made an effort to face palm the other person somewhat, pushing her head away as part of the “Talk to the hand” gesture.  However, not everyone did this, I discovered, so, shall we say, competitively as I did.  It wasn’t so much that I wanted to face palm someone else, as I wanted to do it first, so as to avoid having it done to me.  Well, when the *poof* came along, I was ready and prepared, and I pushed a little harder than necessary in my haste to be first, and my best friend’s head knocked backward against the window with a good noise.  I was instantly remorseful, and her immediate upset hurt like no physical pain can.  I still feel bad about that now, years and years later, though not in the same, sad way.

The other sad memory was the morning before school that she called me while I was showering. My mom came and brought me the phone while I was in the shower, telling me it was my best friend. I wondered why she was calling so early in the morning, it was even a little excited about the phone call. However, the news of the phone call was not good: angel, her dog, had died that morning. She was calling to let me know, because she knew that I loved Angel, too. Well I was incredibly sad about Angel, one of my favorite dogs, I was also incredibly grateful for the friendship I had – for that is a powerful friendship to make a call so early in the morning about something that could have waited until we got to school.  But she wanted me to know before the rest of the world.  I was and still am honored.

Gosh, now I have loads of memories piled up with this friend, and memories keep diving into the piles, turning them into something more like a mountain range.  I used that only makes sense, when we’re talking about a childhood best friend – there’s so much time and joy and learning spent together as kids.  Now she has kids of her own, and almost all I want to do is everything I can to help them have the best possible upbringing in the world.

Post-a-day 2017