Some very, very important people have been neglected, that is.
Real Life, Off-Line, Dirt-Side People. People that I’ve known since I was four years old (and that’s a lot of years, and a lot of memories, ladies and gentlemen).
A week ago, I got the yearly invitation that I dread getting. The invitation from The Girls. These are the girls that kept me from getting beaten up from grade school all the way up to high school. How I managed to become part of the “in” class of people is still beyond me, but even with all my lack of social grace, these girls were my girls from Kindergarten on, and stuck with me even when I didn’t deserve them.
We’ve drifted apart over and over and over – always because I backed away – being the gutless, anti-social little ass that I am, and they have always been there anyway, whenever I needed them, if ever I called.
The Indian Princess sat with me once on a bench on Main Street in Teeny-Tiny Town, the place I was born and raised, and where she still lives. She sat with me through a long cold night when I was drunk and stupid, even though we had drifted apart, and I was afraid to go home. She talked to me for hours, and listened to me ramble on idiotically about everything and nothing, and when she thought I was sober enough to get in the house quietly, she walked me to my driveway, and watched me until the door closed, and gossipy little Teeny-Tiny Town never heard about it.
The Lawyer listened to me cry on the phone when I left my first husband in 1987. Told me I could come live up here with her ’til I got back on my feet – bought my bus ticket and met me at the station – moved a depressed and frightened ghost of a woman into her home and got me my first job in a strange new city. This, after nearly five years of no communication whatsoever.
The Fly-Girl moved herself lock, stock and barrel from four towns down the line, in the space of two days when I told her I couldn’t do this on my own anymore – cleaned my house – cooked my meals – did my laundry – kept me sane for six months until I met Ky’s dad and she thought I’d be okay, finally, before she picked up a life of her own again.
Every year, they all get together, with a few new faces tossed in, at Christmas, and I always get the call. “Come over and visit. Let’s catch up. It’s Christmas. We miss you.” Every year, I find an excuse not to go – because there are too many people there. There are too many years gone by. Too much water under the bridge. Pick your cliche; I’m sure I’ve used it. I have just not ever quite felt comfortable among them. They have always seemed a little too good for me.
I have always felt a little like an interloper. They were the Beautiful People, even at nine years old; more so in high school, and they are still the Beautiful People now. They scare me a little. I have never felt I could be like them, and I’ve never quite understood why they let me in that inner circle. I have known them, and loved them, and admired them for 37 years now, and never quite understood why they let me be among them.
This year, my Year of Fearlessness, I decided it was time to not only go to the annual get-together, but to go and enjoy myself. I accepted the invitation.
And then I chickened out.
I called The Fly-Girl on Friday afternoon and begged off. She took it well, as she does every year, and that was that.
Today (yesterday?), The Lawyer called. “I want you to come.” I gave her every long drawn-out excuse I could come up with, and she over-rode each and every one of them. She’s a lawyer, after all, and a very good one.
The Fly-Girl picked me up (and let me drive! to The Lawyer’s house), and The Lawyer hugged me tight and gave me a beer. The Indian Princess hugged me tighter and told me I’d gained weight for a change (!!!!) and looked better than ever. The Two Little Sisters (Princesses in their own right) were there as well, looking fabulous and making me feel at home, and another old friend from school (The Angel) was also there to say hello. I decided this wasn’t so bad, after all.
Then the doorbell started ringing. Strangers started coming in. The party ended up about twelve strong (“twelve” is a terribly large crowd for me, especially when I only know four of them), and I started to wish I’d never answered the phone earlier. I snuck off to a bathroom and looked at a terrified me in the mirror and got angry.
This is not the person I want to be anymore. I want to be grateful that I still have people I love and trust after 37 years. It’s time to stop pushing them away. It’s not like they would actually go away, after all. If I’m going to get the call every year, I want to go and be happy to be among friends.
So, I smartened myself up and washed my face and left the bathroom determined to enjoy the company of people who have known me nearly as long as I have known myself.
And I did. I had a wonderful time. Had a few more beer. Drew a hairy penis on the ass of The Indian Princess – being a cartoonist, after all – so she could freak out a Little Sister who had just gotten a tattoo (The Indian Princess is not into tattoos). Did some trouble-shooting on The Angel’s digital camera. Discovered that I do have a place among them. Turns out, they are a little in awe of me, too.
I discovered that, all along, I have been The Answers Girl. I’m the “intelligent” one. I’m the “brain”. If you don’t know how to fix it, or you need an answer to a question… ask Les. Because – get this – “Les is The Writer. She’ll know.”
Not-So-Random Song for the Day: “God of the Sun” – America
(‘Cuz that was “Our Song” Waaaaaay Back When.)