Tag Archives: friends

Six Wedding Words

There cannot be enough Armenian dancing.

The Pee Church, or Sprinting in Red Heels

I wrote about a theatrical wardrobe malfunction and about getting stuck in Dave’s bathroom. Clothing and urination and my good-girl days. Then I remembered what happened when that girl grew up and was released into the wild.

(Seriously? Not much happened. I’m still a pretty good girl, and also? Hi Mom!)

Around the Millenium, I lived in near Boston, and two of my best girlfriends lived about a half mile away. Many were the nights of carousing, and if we were lucky catching the Red Line back as far as our stop. A cab from the T station, or better yet the bus, was always cheaper.

That night we caught the Red Line, and decided we’d use the mile walk from the station to their apartment to sober up. I would crash on their couch, and head home the half mile to my apartment in the morning.

Back in those days public restrooms on the T were rare and foul. After last call, the square buttoned up tight, so if a girl needed to pee, she was right out of luck.

“Just use the Pee Church,” my friend suggested, pointing to a gray stone church about a block away, ringed with hedges, thickly shadowed and inky green in the darkness.

“They don’t lock it?” I asked naïvely.

“No. Yes, they do. Just pee behind the hedge. My University friends used to do it all the time. It’s a long walk home if you don’t.”

“I can’t.”

“Suit yourself.”

I kept walking, bladder pressing on my thoughts. Halfway there the urge was desperate, and cover was scarce. I had given up the option to squat when I passed the Pee Church.

I soldiered on up the hill, my bladder insistent with the knowledge that we were getting incrementally closer to a toilet.

With a tenth of a mile left, I’d had it. I was still tipsy, I had to go, and I couldn’t wait anymore. I demanded the keys from my friends, and took off.

I ran, full tilt, in four-inch platform peeptoe sandals along the sidewalk until I got to their place, unlocked the door with shaking hands, and sprinted down the hallway to the bathroom.

I made it, but I didn’t close the front door.

There is a place called the Pee Church, despite my lack of reverence I can’t do that, and I can sprint in heels under the right circumstances. Lessons learned.

Write a post that either starts or ends with the words “Lesson learned.” Word limit: 400 words.

Dave’s Bathroom

My friend Dave grew up on the posh side of town. I love his parents’ house. A big, roomy colonial on a quiet, winding, tree-lined street. We were warmly welcomed there as geeky, awkward teenagers. We watched movies in the den, played pinball in the basement, ate ice-cream from their freezer, and I even once kissed a boy in their living room.

But I was terrified of the powder room.

New Year’s Eve. December 31, 1991, and a few of us were gathered at Dave’s house. I don’t think his parents were home–but that’s not a big deal. We were good kids, curfew obeyers, nerd girls and nice guys the lot of us.

I innocently went into the first floor half-bath to pee. And you know how, when you’re a teenager, everything is a huge deal? Peeing at a boy’s house, even just a boy who is a friend, is a huge deal. Because, you know, peeing. Near strangers. Some of whom are male.

I locked the door–one of those funny antique pin-style locks. I peed. I washed my hands. I went to unlock the door.

Shit.
Shit shit shit.
(Except I’m pretty sure I was fourteen, and didn’t say shit out loud yet.)

So, I panicked a little, and waited a few minutes, and tried again.

And then I called for help. Simultaneously wishing I could just flush myself down the toilet in embarrassment.

Dave came to the other side of the door and tried, increasingly less patiently and more mockingly, to explain to me how to jiggle the handle and press the pin and wiggle my nose and whisper the secret word to release the lock… but I couldn’t get it.

Until finally, he wasn’t outside the door anymore.

He was outside the window, hoisting himself up and inside. He did manage to finagle the lock once he was in there with me. And thank god we were a drama-free lot because hello? Locked in a bathroom with a boy. In high school.

I spent a lot more time at Dave’s house over the years, and I never once again locked the bathroom door.

Mama’s Losin’ It1.) Write about a time you had to crawl through a window. (inspired by Barb from Half Past Kissin’ Time)

Okay, so my friend crawled through a window, but it was to save me.

Deus In Machina

In middle school I had a typewriter. And a stack of pink paper. I wrote what amounts to my first romance novel in the eighth grade using that typewriter and that pink paper.

Loosely styled upon the novels of the late V.C. Andrews, both written and ghostwritten, it starred my then best friend, renamed Leigh and aged some ten years to protect the guilty. When you’re thirteen, twenty three seems very grown up and sophisticated.

I would feed in the ink ribbon, depress the carriage return with a ding!, and gleefully string events together into an All My Children meets Sweet Valley High drama, played out against flashy, urban backdrops born in my imagination.

The story was a serial adventure detailing her romantic triumphs and tribulations with a revolving circle of men–rather transparently modeled on the boys in our class and some of the male faculty members we had crushes on.

Lolita, anyone?

All the young women were brazen, buxom, and to the degree I understood the idea, fast. Long hair, tiny waists, towering heels. And the men? Mad with desire, addled by beauty, eager to please, eager to fight. I wrote myself in as a best friend. A supporting character. And occasionally a catalyst for the action. Deus in machina, if you will.

I would giggle and the plot with my friends, blooming under a blazing rush of pleasure. My friends liked it, and they wanted more.

Imagine you are meeting someone for the first time. You want to tell them about yourself. Instead of reciting a laundry list of what you do or where you’re from, please give us a scene from your life that best illustrates your true self.

He’d Totally Cheat at Car Bingo

If you could spend the afternoon with anyone who is no longer alive, who would it be and what would you do?

It would be fourteen years ago in Vermont (because if I could have him back? I could also bend time to my will), and I’d call Glenn. Wake him up. He loved his sleep. Are you ready to go? He’d answer me no all groggy and foolish. We’re leaving in half an hour. Get your ass downstairs.

It would be fall, right about this time of year. The Green Mountains wearing a skirt of painted foothill foliage, perhaps a sugar dusting of snow on Mount Mansfield. The air would be cool, the sun warm, the sky blue. Pulling up in front of his dorm, leaving the Subaru running, I’d run up and knock on his door. He wouldn’t be ready.

In the end, he’d sling a book bag and a sack of laundry into the wayback. Usually, we’d have another friend with us for the drive, but not this time. This time would just be us. We’d drive through town, around the funny corner by Steve’s diner and Neil & Otto’s Pizza, and we’d sigh over the home fries at the diner – so good! – and the crust at the pizza place – so bad!

Just south of town, out on Route 7, we’d stop for gas. I’d man the pump. He’d go in to pay, and come out with a convenience store cornucopia of treats masquerading as lunch.

And then, I’d slip the car through the gears, feeling the road south unfolding as I approached fifth. I’d tell him to pick a tape. Yeah, a cassette, from the compartment under the radio. He’d spend ten minutes mocking my music mercilessly before producing some obscure thing from his book bag and putting that in. Today? It would be the singer/songwriter/humorist whose name I can never remember*, or maybe his Chuck Berry tape.

Whenever we passed farms, and in rural Vermont we’d pass farms every few miles, he’d make me join him in a chorus of animal sounds, and threaten to make me play car bingo to pass the four hour drive. Of course, as I am driving, he’d be playing my bingo card, and he’d cheat.

We would talk, about stupid things. Life things. Big things. Mean things. Strange things. Small things. We would laugh. Oh, how we would laugh! And about the time we hit southern New Hampshire, he’d tell me he had to pee, but mostly so I’d stop at the McDonald’s in Keene. He’d eat a bag full of cheeseburgers and fries, and talk me into some, too.

I’d pick on him about the pit stop, since the Massachusetts state line is only a few minutes from Keene, and his parents house only a few minutes from the state line. He’d make some crack about there being no food at home, which would be a lie, because there always was. And then, we’d be there, on the side street in the Chair City where he grew up. I’d come in, maybe say hi to his parents, and then, quickly, hug him goodbye, and promise to call him about picking him up on the way back north in three days.

And then, I’d kick a few dry leaves under my shoes, slip back into my worn out Subaru, and back out of the skinny driveway, past the house, to continue on another forty five minutes to my parents home, with my own music playing, knowing I’d see him soon.

*His name is John Forster. I looked him up. His song, “Entering Marion” is forever linked to Glenn in my mind.


*

I Just Hate That

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a woman desperately wanting to be on time for a coffee date, must forget her son’s Beek at work, and drive halfway home before her employers call to let her know she doesn’t have it.

Upon receiving this terrible news, I pulled a u-turn in the middle of a parking lot and flew back to the C.’s house, restored Beek to his rightful place with Felix, and turned again for home.

Turns out, I wasn’t late at all.

I’m that good.

On our way back to the C.’s, I explained the reason for our u-turn to Felix, who as of yet hadn’t noticed that Beek was missing.

“I don’t want to sleep without my Beek,” he says, voice small.

“You don’t have to, baby,” I say. “We’re going back to get him.” (yes, people, Beek is a him, not an it.)

“I just hate it,” he says, voice still small.

“What, honey?”

At this point, I’ll admit I am a little concerned. Hate? Where did he pick that up? I’m pretty careful about words like that in front of the kids.

“I just hate leaving my Beek at Betty’s house.”

“Oh, sweetheart. I understand. But it’s nicer to say ‘I don’t like leaving my Beek at Betty’s house,” I remind him. “And we’re going to get it right now.”

He is quiet for the rest of the ride.

With Beek retrieved, we’re on the final leg of this epic drive home, and I remind Felix, “Now, Daddy’s going to be in charge of bedtime tonight.”

“Why?”

“Mama’s going out for a little while.”

“Why are you goin’ out?”

“I’m going to see a friend.”

He is quiet for a while.

“I just hate that you’re going out.”

Oh.

Damn.

The Myth of You and Me: Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop

This week’s post is a response to Prompt #2: I miss the friend you used to be. (The Myth Of You And Me) It’s certainly not the first time I’ve blogged about this friendship. I can’t imagine it will be the last.

Mama's Losin' It

Once upon a time, there was a tone-deaf jazz afficionado from the Big Easy, a Southern daughter of a Jewish lawyer, a young woman with a heart as big as the Gulf, with laughter and appetite enough to swallow up a New Englander like me.

That young woman took herself off into the heart of Vermont. I met her as Autumn snapped cool, and she shivered.

Wait ’til it snows, we said. She was undaunted.

She could roar, laugh, drink, dance, write, and love with reckless abandon. Her secret self? Tender and vulnerable. Loyal to the point of fierceness.

Once upon a time she was my friend. Once upon a time she was my college roommate.

She moved to Spain a few years after graduation, to study Spanish literature, theatre, and poetry. She taught English at night to pay the bills. She married one of her students, who picked up and relocated to the States with her when it was time for her to go (And yes, it was far more complicated than that, but the real process? Sounds less mythic and romantic.). She was that magnetic.

I hope she still is.

But I don’t know. Because she has shut me out of her life, away from her light. For a long while, I wondered about what I had–or had not–done to lose her. Now that I am more sure that I did nothing explicitly wrong, I actually worry more. Why have we all been cast adrift–those of us who all love her?

Ten years ago, I imagined us getting together with our families, introducing our children to one another. They were, I suppose, the naive daydreams of a 23 year old who can’t imagine that all of her friendships won’t survive.

Now? I dream of her, and the dreams always end with her warm embrace, unforgotten by my subconscious.

In the Manner of Dreaming

I had a dream two nights ago about being late to meet Mark at a theatre in Burlington, VT. That? Simple wishful thinking, on a number of levels. From there, it gets more complicated.

I was forced to park the car seven or eight blocks away from the theatre, and trot up the hill to the University, past a row of three-deckers, very similar to the ones I once passed walking to and from my old apartment, outside Davis Square, Somerville. Using the reasoning of dreams, I grabbed a tricycle from the back of my car to help me get there faster, but it didn’t work, which meant I was stuck carrying it.

As I approached one of the three-deckers, someone called to me from a third story to come up. It was a friend from college. We’ll call him Burnsie. As I trudged, carrying a tricycle, up his front steps, he burst out of the door to tell me he was finally in a film! I hugged him and said congratulations and how’ve you been-all the things you might say, hearing that news from someone you haven’t seen in years–never mind that he’s a lawyer in real life.

Suddenly, and I do mean suddenly, in the manner of dreaming, another friend from college was on the porch, inviting me to come to their party. We’ll call him Roo. I told them I was late for the theatre, but could I leave the tricycle on their porch and pick it up later? Just then, a few more college friends, Fibby, Petay, and the Burger, ran past me on the stairs laughing like hyenas. Again, Roo invited me to the party. This time, two of my old roommates, Beryl and Shepherdess Y, come barreling out of the apartment, and they run off up the street.

I find myself (love the lack of transitions in dreams) walking towards the University again, only to discover that Beryl is missing, but Shepherdess Y has found our friend Becs, and we are all on our way to the theatre.

We run into the theatre, which has a gift shop/book store at the top of the grand staircase, and while Y and I head for the entrance, Becs goes to buy something. There’s a bell ringing, and the performance has already started, but Y forces her way through the screen door (yes, screen door), and we discover that Mark is there waiting for me, and our seats are near Becs and Y’s seats.

We sit, and I see I’ve lost my purse. Just as I’m whispering that I’ll find it later, the alarm goes off and I wake.

What’s odd is that I was left with the sense that my friend Glenn, who died four years ago, has been talking to me. And he wasn’t directly in the dream. Just the sense that he might have been there, in the corner of my eye, cracking wise and laughing loud, always listening, quick to embrace, lingered with me while I was getting ready to go to work. It lingered throughout the day. I get those feelings pretty rarely, but when I get them, I try to pay attention.

I’m not religious, and I’m not sure about anything, but I can’t believe that the essence of what makes us so gorgeously human is lost entirely when we die. In which case, why not be open to the idea that my dear friend plays dream architect from time to time? The dream, and feeling of not being entirely alone with my thoughts, made what might have been a truly awful day more bearable.

If there’s a better way to keep a friend’s memory alive, I don’t know it.

Four Years Ago

Since I’m off actually being employed today–yikes!– I’m bringing back an old post. Enjoy!
The original post can be found at https://moveovermarypoppins.wordpress.com/2006/06/18/let-them-eat/

Let Them Eat
June 18, 2006


… CAKE!

My friend Alex and his fiancee, Kara, were married yesterday in gorgeous Waitsfield, VT. It was like a storybook – late afternoon ceremony by the pond, frogs gulping from the water, local, artisan food, a historic round barn on a mountain farm… ::sigh::

And a wedding cake by CDG’s Cakes! (the specimen above was a creative choice by the married couple: my Perisan Genoise sponge cake with chocolate creme patissiere and fresh strawberry filling and Italian mousseline buttercream. Special thanks to the folks at The Blue Toad for coming through with a last minute flower order!)

Mark and I stayed up the road “a fer piece” at the The Wilder Farm Inn which was cozy and charming, and had the largest pancakes I’ve ever seen (Bickford’s Big Apple excepted).

The Grass is Mine at Home

I spent the morning in Brookline today, free-sampling another life.

Friends of mine are relocating there while the husband is a medical intern at MGH/Brigham&Women’s. Today was the arrival of their moving truck, so I packed Felix up, and we went in to help them keep an eye on their five month old son.

Oh, the smell of a baby’s head! How I’ve missed it!

I have a love-hate relationship with Brookline. It’s lovely, has tons of parks and playgrounds, T access, gorgeous old homes, lots of little neighborhoods with shopping and dining. It’s also very expensive, some people there can be snobbish. A fair amount of the “hate” is really envy. It’s not likely I’ll ever live there, thus the grass is always going to look greener.

So, while my friends were directing their movers and starting the long and arduous process of unpacking, Felix and I bundled their gorgeous little guy into his stroller and took him on a long walk around the neighborhood. We scoped out the park and the playground, we chatted with a neighbor walking his dogs, we strolled up to Beacon Street, watched the T, got some nosh at Starbucks, explored a little more.

I could live like that. I could. I could be a stay-at-home-Mom in Brookline. In another life. I daydreamed it, while we walked, envisioning a life without constant renovations, without loud, obnoxious neighbors, a life with daily walks to the pictuesque playground, and a barista who knows my name and my silly coffee drink preferences. Then, the baby started to cry, and I was back in nanny mode, settling him down, and the fantasy faded.

Back in the VW, most of the way home again, I found myself straining homeward, impatient with the traffic and the red lights.

The truth? I love our house, flaws and all. It’s home. I need to work, in order for us to live the way we want to. I’m lucky. I can do my job and be a full-time Mom. The grass might look greener in Brookline, but the grass is mine at home.