Tuesday, November 3, 2009
True Blue Forever
Me and M met on the first day of first grade, standing in line for the water fountain. Our first conversation went something like this:
Me: Hi, I'm Laurie
M: I'm M
We stood there for a second, looking at the fairy tale poster hanging on the wall.
Me: I love Sleeping Beauty
M: I love Cinderella
A great friendship was born that day. We've had somewhere in the neighborhood of three fights in the twenty plus years since. The first one, I told a little boy that wore coveralls to school every day in the third grade that M wore a bra. Turned out she liked him and was humiliated. Fourth grade, I loved Micah. He was this adorable little tow headed boy with the prettiest blue eyes. I had worked hard to befriend him. One day, he tapped me on my shoulder in class and I turned around, smiling my prettiest smile when he asked me if I thought M liked him. I felt my heart go kerplunk into the pit of my stomach. When, in quite a huff, I told M about the conversation, I was in for a big surprise when I found out M liked him too. I eventually got over the betrayal. When I was in ninth grade, I rode with M and her mom to Texas for Christmas to see M's older sister, whom had the bad idea to marry a man she met out there while staying briefly with an aunt. After about four days, M and I were sick of each other and got into a screaming match over a game of pool. We got over it, and since then, and before, she's been the sister I never had.
I remember one time when we were probably around nine, ten years old, we were walking in the woods (we both grew up in the boonies, FOR REAL) behind her house. There had been some wild hogs tearing up peoples yards and Melissa was showing me some of their foot prints in a dry creek bed. Well, as luck would have it, I had to toot and when I did, it sounded JUST LIKE a growl. Melissa was being Ms. Tutor girl and was using a stick as a pointer. When she heard what she thought was a growl, she launched that stick up into the air and went running for her life, screaming at me to come on, "They're coming! They're coming!" at the top of her lungs. I about pissed myself I was laughing so hard. She was probably four football fields away before I could yell at her that it was okay, it was just me.
Another time, we were adults, we took a trip up to St. Augustine. Her boyfriend, my husband and us were riding around, when in a tone of great puzzlement, she asked, "I wonder why, in Florida of all places, there are so many lighthouses?" Now, let me tell you, the car went silent. Finally I said, "Maybe because we're on a peninsula. Geez, M." Of course, she's still never lived that one down.
She's had two little girls over the last few years, and watching her become a mommy has been awesome. She's a really good one, probably because she worries that she's going to do everything wrong. She still has her moments though. A few months ago, she called. This is how it went:
M: Hey, girl.
Me: How are you and the girls?
M: We've been a little under the rain.
Now, it took me a few beats to figure out she was trying to tell me they had been a little under the weather.
I have my moments, too, but mine tend to be with the pronunciation of certain words, words like chaos, island, rendevous, pavilion, adolescent...the list goes on and on. You shoulda heard me in fifth grade when I had to give an oral report on the philosopher Socrates. I thought my teacher was going to blow the vein out of her forehead trying to repress her laughter. I thought I must've done a horrible job until at the end she told me the correct pronunciation of his name and it wasn't "So-crates".
When I was eleven, M's daddy was struck by lightning and died. It was the first death that profoundly affected me. M and I grew up in each other's pockets, so her family was my family and vice versa. Her mom was the first I told about being pregnant when I was fifteen. In July of '03, she lost her fiancé in a car accident and then three years ago, we lost her mom to crohn's disease. Earlier this year, her sister was in a serious accident and was airlifted to the hospital. She had broken her pelvic bone in multiple places, so badly in fact, that they refused to body cast her because if she started bleeding internally from the breaks, they didn't think they would have enough time to cut her out of the cast before she bled to death. It was terrifying, thinking that we were going to lose her, too. She pulled through and is still healing even now. I tell you this, not so anyone can feel sorry for her, but because the strength a human heart has is absolutely amazing. M is still one of the happiest people I know. She can put a pretty smile on her face no matter what is going on in her life. I think she lives by the mantra, fake it until you make it. Smile, even when life sucks, even when you think there is no way you can possibly deal with the pain you are going through. If you can do this, you can overcome any grief, any hardship, any bad mood, all the money troubles you may have. And please, never, ever, ever, think that it can't get any worse, because I guarantee you, it always can get harder. Even if it does, fake it until you make it. Smiling makes everyone feel better.