Let’s start at the very beginning, Jr. High. You were fairly new to the Creek. I was a flatlander, yes Billy Muha a flatlander, from the Club or the Verde you decide! But, I had spent a large part of my childhood running the streets of Happy Jack so I understand your confusion. You and I socialized in the same circle, but I couldn’t say we were friends. You were the new girl with an impressive wardrobe.
Then came the Annual Disney Trip. The event that let you know in no uncertain terms where you stood on the social ladder, if you were at all even on the ladder. This was about everything, what it should have been about, hours and hours of parent free fun at The Happiest Place on Earth. It was about who you were seen “going” with. The most popular were picked off almost immediately staying close to their rank. For the rest it was an opportunity to ascend the social hierarchy on step at a time. Promises were made and broken in minutes, friendships abandoned at a whiff of hope. And there we stood mere days before we were to board those yellow school buses with green vinyl seats and no one to go with. My shy strategy, yes I was once shy, was to just wait to be either picked or see who was left so I could pick them. This strategy wasn’t always successful and had landed me on the bus alone and unfriended before. Social politicking just wasn’t in my nature. And when I look back I find it ironic that it was never about which boy you went with, but with what girl. Strange creatures, adolescent girls. As we both stood there with not a lot of option, Courtenay suggested you and I go together. I think we sort of looked at each other with not much of an opinion either way and decided why not.
That is where it all started. We had a great time at Disneyland running from ride to ride, finding ourselves asleep like a pile of kittens at the back of the bus on the way home. We spent the wee, wee hours of the night once we got to your house whispering about anything and everything until ours eyes wouldn’t stay open. This was a life changing event for me, a revelation. For the first time ever I didn’t feel alone or as awkward and misunderstood. Here was this person with the same crazy fears, hopes, thoughts, and musings and she was sharing it with me openly and without hidden judgment. I just never imagined I would ever find anyone who I could trust with all this supposed oddness. That is how it began and what led to a life-long friendship with extensive periods of inseparability. You became my surrogate family.
This photo came many years later when we shared an apartment together in Roseville, our worn out little apartment with almost forest green furniture, uneven brown marbled carpet and canary gold appliances. We had a narcoleptic cat that we often found asleep in his food bowl, an additional bird catching cat, a suicidal fighting fish, two tailless lizards-STONEY! and a tree frog. Oh and crickets. We were on top of the world.
I could hardly contain myself when you and your furniture finally arrived. As your mom peered at me with uncertainty I unpacked it all, chatting away incessantly. I was sharing my first real apartment with my best friend. Just like the movies. We worked together, lived together and went on adventure together. It was a good time. We had our difficulties too of course. We drank Asti Spumanti to Carly Simon, dropped Patty on her head a couple of times and we made this picture among other things.
I was taking my first photography class and per usual had procrastinated a little too long. I had completed the singular portrait in traditional style, my dad in his ten gallon hat who my teacher initially thought could be my boyfriend. Oh please don’t ask me if you can date him now. All I needed was the group photo three or more. I wanted to do something creative, none of that Olan Mills crap, divine inspiration is what I was waiting for.
This was the result. A black sheet tacked to the ceiling. An easel, I don’t know why we even had an easel. An old matboard, stole this idea from a girl in my class. A Santa Fe tea table block thing we inherited from my dad and a barrette. You, me and the Japanese fighting fish in the glass bowl makes three.
A for effort. I did actually get an A. My teacher also said, this isn’t really what I had imagined. Interesting take on the assignment. She also said to all of us at one point that after being used to University level students she had to lower her standards a bit. Can you believe there are other versions including Grant and a can of tuna.
Today would have been your 43rd birthday. There were so many more adventures I was waiting for us to have that included, among other things, an upgrade in champagne. Happy Birthday my darling Regina, we all miss you so incredibly.