So… Facebook. I have two accounts, like many in social media. One is for folks I meet through podcasting, Twitter, conventions and the like. The other is for family, and on extremely rare occasion, friends from waaaaaay back when.
I grew up in a small town in Texas, not Last Picture Show small, but not big either. Like many that run in my circles, I was somewhat of an outsider. Not completely, as I had friends in the different groups that ran the halls, but I kept my social circle pretty small. I’ve kept that tradition, unwittingly, by only allowing a few people into my FB page. My thought is that if we barely spoke back then, why on Earth do we need to know what is going on with each other now? Maybe that’s small-minded, but I just don’t feel the need to share my private world with everyone I ever walked past. I probably have less than 60 in the fam account, and I’d guess 95% to family.
I recently got a friend request from someone that was extremely important in my life, from 14 to 17-ish. We were the very best of friends and totally committed to each other. We joked about moving off to England together when we both graduated (he was a grade above me), because THAT was where the great music was being made and we were sick of the Bruce Springsteen/Whitney Houston crap. We also decided we didn’t want to grow old, so had a “pact” to kill each other when we turned 35. That was obviously made in jest, and it still amuses me now at the age of (almost) 42.
My family didn’t have a lot of money, and while he didn’t buy me stacks of gifts, he always somehow found a way to gift the most coveted items in my heart, nearly all import vinyls of my favorite artists. For those born in the CD-only era, the term “vinyls” denotes albums, either conventional release or EP’s – extended play versions of songs. My favorites were the multi-colored or transparent that added another level of magnificence to the experience of dropping the needle, ever so gently, on the record.
His parents were older than any of my other friends’ parents. Because of this, we pretty much got to do what we wanted and understandably spent a lot of time at his place. His father was extremely kind and always made sure to store my favorite soda (Pepsi or Grape) and snacks. Otherwise, he stayed to himself. His mother was extraordinary. She had been a teacher, and after retirement continued educating children in the church they attended. She was generous, loving, kind-hearted and always seemed to be on the go. Because she seemed so much older than my Mom, and because my last grandparent had died when I was 6, she had a special Grandmom-ish role in my life. I doubt that I ever told … let’s call him ‘Kick Ass’ … that for fear of insulting him over her age. But I loved her very much.
Over what in hindsight seems like an extremely short period of time, she had multiple strokes. At one point, she had lost the ability to read. It broke my heart, for this woman who taught countless children to read, to see her struggle with the newspaper. So I sat with her while she read the headlines, over and over. The headlines changed nearly every time she read it. But she was beyond re-learning, and I just re-assured her that she was doing a great job. She would smile and start over again. What else could I do? The woman that we loved was mostly vacant, child-like, sweet and loving. I couldn’t break her heart and tell her she couldn’t read. She finally succumbed shortly thereafter, and it was a devastating blow to all who knew her.
I’ve thought of her many times over the years, with both love and sadness. To know that an exuberant and brilliant woman could be brought down so quickly, in mere moments, absolutely haunted me. I think it contributed to my “worst case scenario” planning needs. More than a dozen times a month you can hear me say “Lookit, if I get hit by a truck tomorrow, you need to know where this paperwork is” or something along those lines. Yes, that tendency was exaggerated by LT’s sudden illness at six, and NB’s car accident at 12, and my Mom’s recurrence of breast cancer that stole her health, her mind, and finally her life.
Life is short, and I intend to waste as little of it as possible and hope that I leave things in good enough order that my family can move on with grieving rather than chasing down details. I’m watching a new friend go through that, and it has getting our will written as a huge priority.
Kick Ass and I had some stupid falling out, something about a Depeche Mode concert or some foolishness. I honestly don’t remember, but our friendship fizzled after that. We went our separate ways, and I eventually moved to Virginia. We had one phone call that I can remember, shortly before or right after I married my now ex-husband. It was a weird passage through time, but it was cool to catch up.
I’ve looked for him a few times, and then had a friend request from him. After I accepted it, I got this message:
“hey there Miss Kitten. Facebook has connected me with so many folks from the past (honestly, some i don’t even remember). but the first person i hunted for was YOU.
you and i had some brilliant times and discovered alot of fantastic music-inspired a mini-revolution of black clad mascaraed followers at (redacted). i still dearly love you, an…d when i stumble across pictures of us together, i suspect that i would not be the no-bullshit, take-no-prisoners, f*ck-right-off man i am today without you. if you ever need me-i will come for you.
I was speechless. The thought that someone I hadn’t spoken to in 20 years could still feel that way about me really confused and flattered me. In the emails back and forth, learning about each other and our lives as they now exist, it became clear he really felt that way. It’s brought back crazy memories from our fun and melodramatic high school days. You remember those, right? When every little thing was a huge drama? Looking back at what we’ve been through in the intervening years, it’s really hard not to giggle at those things we once thought were so big.
I feel blessed to have him back in my life, even if this was just a burst and we drop out of touch again. His message sort of removed the mist that surrounded my memory of myself. I used to be pretty bad ass, and not many people used to mess with me because I was quick to bring it right back to them. Motherhood has softened me, as well as maturity, certainly. I guess I’m a pretty easy target these days as I don’t typically fight back publicly. I still keep my friends in large number, but my besties in low number. How many times can you get hurt before you remember to wear your armor, after all? I keep my private business private, and try to find joy where I can.
Ironically, that seems to be where he’s at. And he’s still so balls-to-the-wall bold, knowing exactly what he wants and going for it, taking crap from no one. It seems I have more to learn from him, and I hope for more time with him. I don’t know how to make it happen as he lives quite far, but I feel a need to reach out and hug him and to see for myself that he’s okay.
We’ll be talking again soon. He warned me of a new video game arriving, and he expected to be spending every waking, non-working moment on it, so great is his excitement. The gamer in me adores that.
You know, when I was trying to think of a pseudonym to use for him (his initials being K.A.), Kick Ass immediately came to mind. I think if I’d spent hours reflecting on it, that’s exactly what I’d have settled on. <3