20 as 20

To start, I am 38 years old, in case you were unaware. 

I have very little problem with aging.  In fact, I embrace it.  I felt very awkward and weird until I was about 30, and I am loving this stage of my life far more than I did the previous few decades, likely because I have found a well of confidence in myself, due to things like feeling secure in my writing.  I have grown as a person more in the past 8 years than I did in the previous 20, and I am, frankly, very proud of myself.  So, aging does not scare me.

Terrifies the crap out of my husband, though.  He threw his back out not long ago and couldn’t wrap his head around the idea that he just cant lift 150 pounds anymore.  Kevin also has an aging issue, hoping that he is long gone before he ends up in a nursing home or something.  I personally think nursing homes are going to be rocking when were older.  I mean, it’s not like you turn 65 and have to take up knitting and backgammon.  Were gone have Xbox tournaments in our nursing homes, guys.  But I digress.

So, being 38 and aware of my health and such, I am usually comfortable with my limitations.  However, this weekend, there was no time for limits.

Let me tell you briefly about Nick.  Nick and I went to school together since PreK, and he was Kevin’s other best friend when we were kids.  We grew up together through Kev, and by high school, we had become very good friends.  Nick’s greatest talent is music, specifically the drums.  He has been playing since he was a kid, and sometime around the turn of the century he started his first band, Lurid.  I was a fan, though their music was a little heavy for me, but I went to dozens of shows.  Later, they disbanded and he formed Mad Yellow Sun, a band I liked much more, so I attended most of their shows.  After a while, Nick needed to progress, so he packed up his things and moved to Hollywood.  Ever since, he has been teaching music and performing with various groups and touring the world playing his favorite instrument.  I could not be prouder of my friend.

Anyway, a few months ago, Nick sent out a Facebook invite to a show he was doing near Buffalo.  He was going on tour with one of his bands, and I was of course excited to see him.  Thing is, it fell on Friday night…the night before the suicide walk, which was at 8am.  “I can do it,” I tell myself.  “I’ve done it before!”

Yeah, at 20, you idiot.

First of all, I woke up Friday morning and immediately made myself throw up.  Why, you ask?  Think of it as a preventative measure.  I wasn’t about to have some crap sitting in my stomach all morning only to flare up and make me sick on this, the day of days.  I took some Zofran and some Xanax and drank some coffee and was fine.  It was a good sign.

Around 530pm, Kevin and Johnny came over to pregame.  I went and got ready, taking a shower and getting dressed and putting on actual makeup.  I learned who my true friends are when I applied new foundation and Mark and John said I looked great, but Kevin told me “I cannot let you leave the house like that.”  Always got my back, that one.  As I reapplied, I thought of all the nights spent on someone’s kitchen floor getting ready for a “Nick show” back in the day.  I was momentarily grateful that it no longer took me two hours to get ready, though, even with the makeup reapplication. 

Eventually I was on the road, but, as it is when you are trying to be 20, it was one damn thing after another.  First, my sister, who was supposed to come, lost her ID.  Then my cousin decided to stay home.  Then Bern found ID, but didn’t go because Erin stayed.  Then my lighter died, so I had to get a new one.  Then, I had to go to the bank.  Then, I had to drive to flippin Tonawanda, which is a good 30 minutes from my house in South Buffalo.  By the time I got there and found parking I was terrified I was late.  Alas, no.

I saw him standing there talking to a group of people I don’t know. I waited for a lull in the conversation, and then said “Hi, Nicki.”

Nick’s reactions to seeing someone he misses are intense.  He is a hugger extraordinaire, and has the ability to make you feel as though you are the most important person in the room.  Which, I suppose is a good quality for a performer, but when you’re his friend, it truly is a genuine moment.  He tells me his mother is inside the bar.  Now, let me tell you about Joanne.

As there has always been me, Kevin, and Nick, there has also always been my mother, Sharon, and Joanne.  Sharon is Kev’s mother and I have always thought of her as my aunt, and another maternal presence in my life, as she helped raise me up as much as my mother helped raise up Kev.  Then Joanne, whom I because close to during my very tumultuous teen years, and a time when I felt like I couldn’t express things to my own mother.  She stepped in and filled that role whenever I needed her to.  She always was there for me, and for Kevin as well should he need her.  She still calls us her “babies.”  A while back, Jo got sick.  She has been battling some vicious cancer for a couple years now, and I haven’t been able to see her because she lives in North Carolina.  So, to hear she was mere feet away at the bar was incredible news, just as good as seeing Nick play again.

After greeting everyone and freaking out over Joanne being there, I ordered a drink and posted up by the window to take in the scene.  I need moments like this in crowded places, so as to keep myself grounded and not panicky.  An older gentleman sidled up beside me and started chatting me up.  After a little conversation he tells me that he hopes I’m not “weirded out by the old guy hitting on you.”  I tell him I’m not, and I’m flattered, but taken.  He smiles and tells me to have a good night and is on his way, and it makes me realize that this never would have happened if I were 20.

First of all, I didn’t have the confidence then that I do now and probably wouldn’t even have registered that the guy was interested.  Secondly, he never would have spoken to me because that would mean breaking me away from the pack I traveled in once upon a time.  If I’d had half a brain back then, I would have got a drink and stood alone for five minutes.  Could have met a guy instantly!  Again, I digress…

Eventually Nick goes on and plays better than I’ve heard, because it’s been like ten years since I saw him perform last.  I started to feel woozy mid-set, however, and went out for some air.  Jo was also outside feeling icky, and I told her I had to go.  I felt bad leaving early, particularly because I would have liked to spend some more time with Nick and her, but I couldn’t risk illness.  My attempt to relive my 20s wasn’t over yet.  I drove home and took my meds and went to bed…eventually.  I was weirdly amped up and tossed and turned all night.

I don’t know how I woke up at 7am feeling well, but I did, and it was a miracle.  8am found us out the door and headed downtown, and I thought of things like how I used to go party all night and then work a shift the next day.  How crazy!  I was so tired, and a little hungover.  Two beers might not be much for most people, but I am a lightweight who barely drinks, and I was feeling those Blue Moon’s from the bar that morning.

The walk was lovely.  It was bigger than last year’s experience which was significantly downgraded due to the pandemic, but it was still fairly small.  They spaced everything out nicely, and staggered arrival times for participants, so it wasn’t too crowded.  I raised 710$ this year, and was congratulated by the registration lady.  They gave me a t-shirt, they took our picture, and we walked around and looked at the info tables and basket raffle and such.  Then, we took a little walk, not as much as I would have liked to but as previously stated I was hungover and also my leg was killing me for some unknown reasons; probably the boots I chose to wear the night before.

Then, back to the car and home again and change of clothes and pack a bag and time for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  What’s that you say?  Its’ September?  Well, that means we are halfway there, so let’s do it up right!

Except they didn’t.  I’d like to say it was fun, and I guess it was to see people out and to be out myself, but the parade itself was lame.  Usually the best one (when held on actual St. Paddy’s Day,) this was just kind of sad.  It was a handful of families, a couple of bars with floats, a single pipe and drum band, and 4 politicians (and not even the one I’m voting for.)  Add in three fire trucks and a weird procession of Jeeps, and you have the entire parade.  No real music, no dancers, nothing.  Yawn.

Speaking of yawns, by the time I got home it was around 2pm and I was exhausted, I watched a little tv and then passed out on the couch.  I spent 20 hours acting like I was 20-drinking and partying and not sleeping and overexerting. 

And it was a blast, but, as I stated in the beginning…I like my 30s.  I like the pace I’ve got going here, and I hope it continues into the next decade.  As much fun as I had in that 20 hours is also as much exhaustion as I faced.  I have to face it-I am a one event per 24-hour period person now.

Still, it is joyous to grab those little moments where you can remember yourself in your youth, and I felt that this weekend, particularly on Friday night.  For a moment while I listed to Nick play, I’m sure, that in the right light, you could have sworn I was only 20 years old.

On Books and Tummy-Aches.

It is midafternoon on a Monday, usually a time when I am far done with my blog, but today was a holiday, and this week has been strange.

I was sick, unfortunately, pretty much all week.  It was terrible and I have no desire to rehash it so let’s just call last week a wash and move on.

I came across a photo the other day, below.  Me and Kevin, maybe four-years-old.  I am sick and lying on the sofa, and he is sitting beside me, reading a book.

I don’t read much anymore because it is difficult for me, what with my eyes.  I do more now than before I got new glasses, but without bifocals it’s still tricky.  I have had two Stephen King’s sitting beside my bed for months that are unfinished.

And then today, Kevin gave me about fifteen more. 

While downsizing his life, he decided to get rid of his King collection and gave it to me, which is awesome, but now means that A. I need more bookshelves, and B. My reading list has just expanded greatly.  They’re all books I have yet to read, or have read once and didn’t have a copy of. 

Anyway, this special delivery reminded me of that little picture of a sad and sick Briggy being soothed by the fake-reading of a four-year-old Kevvie.  I was really sick this week, and I had a few plans with my bud that ended up having to be postponed because of it.  If there is anything worse than the physical pain that comes with gastroparesis, there is the mental anguish of always feeling like you’re ruining something by getting sick.  Every plan I have to cancel or rearrange haunts me.  I hate it.

Today, I hate the whole damn thing.

But tomorrow, who knows…maybe I will make a space on my bookshelf.  Maybe I will choose a new King novel to devour, hoping that it will get me back to the other two languishing on my nightstand.  Maybe I will read something, and the words will seep into my eyeballs and though my pores and wind their way though my body, and I will be healed by a story or tale or poem…little healings, that keep me going.

Always gotta keep going.

The Love Remains

I’ve only really personally known one person that killed themselves.

(That’s a harsh way to start a post, huh?)

I’m not going to share his name, because we were only friends for a short time and because of that I somehow feel that his death is not really mine to mourn.  Still, when I logged onto Facebook one day and saw all our mutuals posting tributes on his wall, I cried.  I thought, as I’m sure everyone did, that if he had just reached out…maybe I could have done something.  But we weren’t close.  We worked together for a while, and I was his Secret Santa one year.  Hung out a couple times.  What could I have possibly done, except point him to a suicide hotline?  But maybe that would have been enough.  Who knows? 

(That was, completely coincidentally, the year I started doing the AFSP Out of Darkness Walk.  They read a list of names, and his was on it…I felt my heart drop to my shoe.) 

Last summer, I saw a guy in a crowd that looked like him.  For a second, I thought it was a ghost, that’s how close the resemblance was.  I remembered how I felt when he died…that I lost someone I once called “friend,” and felt powerless.  I don’t feel as powerless now.  I do the walk every year and raise funds to save lives, lives like his.  Lives like mine. 

That helps.

Anyway, after I saw this ghost it got me thinking of people in my life that I have lost contact with.  It’s a lot.  Like…a hell of a lot.  And it is all depression’s fault.  It went and convinced me these people didn’t really care about me in the way I cared about them and kept me from reaching out to maintain friendships that were important to me.  I thought to myself, that if one of these people committed suicide, I would be heartbroken.  I wanted people to know that despite my mental health keeping me from being present, the people I love will always be with me, and can always call on me when they need to.  So, I started sending messages.  About one a month, to people I loved and missed.  When I would see a meme or something that reminded me of someone, instead of just thinking “Gee, I miss so-and-so,” I would send it to them with a message. 

And so, I talked to my college buddies.  I had coffee with a friend I hadn’t seen for three years.  I reconnected with one of my besties from high school.  At Christmas, I sent messages to people I did Xmas shows with when I was in my teens.  I just so happened to message my middle school best friend the night before she got engaged.  Yesterday, I messaged a friend I haven’t seen in at least a decade AND my former therapist.  My point is that I tried to reach out, and good things came of it.

And…

I hope these people know.  I hope all the people I have ever met in my life know…that I am here.  If I loved you before, I have not stopped.  I wrote a play once, and the premise was that love, in all its forms, does not dissipate.  Take a relationship…you may break up, it may be awful, but you loved them once, and that love lives on in your subconscious whether you acknowledge it or not.  Or, someone you’ve had a falling out with…for instance, there is a woman that I’m pretty sure doesn’t like me.  And that’s fine.  She doesn’t have to.  We had a falling out many years ago, and I personally don’t think she’s ever forgiven me.  Again, that’s fine, it’s her prerogative.  Still, if she called me in a panic, I’d summon the part of me that used to be friends with her and run to her aid.  It’s just the kind of person I am, and why I believe that the love remains.

I do not give up on people.  It may seem that way at times, because I fall into depressive episodes that can last anywhere from an hour to five years.  I hate losing my people, be it to distance, time, or circumstance.  I will always, always be here.  Do not hesitate.  I don’t want to hear them read your name at the suicide walk, guys.

And also…maybe I just miss you.

My point is to reconnect.  To try to do something to maintain the relationships that mattered to you, even though the world seems to have gotten in the way.  And if you’re in a really dark place, all the more reason to reach out.  And if you need me, I’m here.

Ode to a Theater

The way I see it, we go through life collecting people and places we love like a mental scrapbook.  Today I shall write about a place and a person.

When I was fifteen, I saw a flyer on a bulletin board at school, advertising an Explorer post.  Explorers are a group run through the Boy Scouts that specifically concentrates on a field of study.  It was also the only co-ed program the Scouts had at the time.  This particular post was for the study of theater.

I had been bitten by the theater bug when I was seven and sat in the balcony of the Kavinoky Theater all by my little lonesome, watching a production of Noises Off, while my father ran sound from the booth.  I did all the plays in grade school, and auditioned for everything in high school (no roles had come my way at that point, though that was soon to change.)  I was in the school’s drama club, but if you weren’t in the productions it was kind of useless, so I was happy to see that there was a hands-on program in my area. 

The meetings were held downtown at the New Phoenix Theater on the Park, which at the time also housed the Buffalo Ensemble Theater, the latter of which sponsored the post.

I went to the first few meetings and was elected Treasurer.  Every week I learned something new.  I met a woman named Rose who ran the group and encouraged me to follow my theatrical dreams-she was the first person outside my family to see a spark of talent. 

Anyway, about a year into it, Rose’s sister Angela came to us with a play she wrote.  We held auditions, and I didn’t think I would get a part…I just wasn’t quite right for any of the roles, and I knew that when we first read the script.  I was only dejected for a second, because Rose pulled me aside and told me she wanted me to direct the piece.  And so, at sixteen, I began directing my first show.

It was a couple days later that Rose told me I would be getting a stage manager.  Two girls were doing internships at the theater for their school, and would be joining us in the production.  My sixteen-year-old snap judgement was that they were going to be a problem.  We had a very cohesive group by this point, and two cliquey chicks from the suburb were going to come in here and mess up our vibe?  No, thank you.

At first, they kind of kept to themselves, as I suppose I would have if I was in a new situation and only knew one other person.  One girl, Ashley, would be acting in the show.  The other, Sahar, would be my stage manager.  The stage manager/director relationship is vital, because you really can’t do either job without the other, unless you’re trying to have a nervous breakdown.  I was learning this as I was directing for the first time, and as such, Sahar and I ended up spending the most time together. 

After the show opened, and her internship ended, I hoped she would stay in the post, but she couldn’t.  Sahar was unique in my friend circle in that she was probably the first Muslim person I ever met, having been raised in a strictly Catholic setting myself.  Her parents were immigrants, and very protective of their eldest daughter…which was probably a good idea, because I can’t tell you the number of times I tried to get her to sneak out to a club with me on a Friday night.  The thing was, because of the expectations and responsibilities she lived with, we didn’t get to see each other much after the show closed.  Somehow, though, we stayed friends.

Sahar lives in Kentucky now, which I complain about regularly.  Her husband is hoping to land a job in Cleveland, so I am crossing my fingers for that little miracle.  However, she is in town right now, so when I heard a friend was having a reading of her play at the New Phoenix, I immediately asked Sahar if she wanted to go.

I sat in the audience before the show and looked around the room.  After the show with Sahar, I did three Christmas shows there, finally flexing my acting muscles.  My fourth show with the post, which I wrote, was rejected in the eleventh hour, and the Explorer’s pulled my funding because they didn’t care for the subject matter…fortunately Richard, the owner of the New Phoenix, stepped in and saved the day.  The show opened on time.

The post dissolved not much longer after that, as there was no one available to run it anymore. At this point, I was 21.  I had learned invaluable lessons and made a dozen new friends.

Later in my 20’s, Richard would get in touch with me about stage managing, something I had only recently become interested in.  This led to me stage managing two shows there.  Which led to me stage managing at another company for four years.

The reading began, and I found myself instantly captivated as I usually am when presented with live theater.  It was a heartbreaking play, about the struggles of a nurse who witnessed the agony of loss firsthand during the early days of the AIDS crisis.  Beautifully written by the talented Kerrykate Able-Smith and masterfully performed by powerhouse Marie Costa.  I mean, I could be biased…I’ve worked with both of them before.

Which never would have happened if I hadn’t seen that flyer when I was fifteen.

You know what else wouldn’t have happened?  The woman who sat to my left, who stood up in my wedding, who has never let distance come between us, and who will always be the stage manager of my life. 

I don’t work in theater anymore.  It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t, it would just have to be the right project with the right people.  But the New Phoenix will always hold a special spot in my heart, right next to the one where Sahar lives.

Me and Sahar, in the place it all began,

Of Grief and Friendship

Hubs asked me a question that knocked me on my butt the other day.  “What were you doing at 23?”  I had literally no idea.  I couldn’t come up with one single thing that happened in 2006.  He knew where he was: “jumping.”  Jobs, women, substances, etc.  My sister Bernie is 23 today, and I wonder if 13 years from now she too will wonder what the hell she was up to.  Probably not.  She has a nice healthy brain that hasn’t been controlled for years by anti-depressants.

There’s some time I have lost.  I can’t pinpoint much of my twenties, not just 23.  I also have no recollection of third grade, which occurred right after my grandmother died. It’s not like the drugs I was using were recreational, aside from some occasional marijuana, and I was never a big drinker, so really I think I have to blame that old cocktail of trauma and psych meds.  I asked my mother what I was doing in 2006.

She told me that’s the year my aunt Ka died, and then the floodgates opened.

I handle death very well and very poorly at the same time.  Poorly in that when it’s someone very close to me, I will block out a lot of the time surrounding their passing.  I honestly don’t remember most funerals I have been to.  I also hate going to wakes, as they cause instant panic attacks.  On the other hand, someone will pass away and I will grieve quickly, which is nice. I unfortunately do this by picturing them on a sunny island somewhere for an extended period of time. 

Ka has been in the Philippines for 13 years.

I vividly remember the night she died.  It was Christmas day, and I had cooked dinner for my family.  She was in the hospital and it would be the first year she wasn’t with us, but I was going to go see her after dinner.  My parents called and said they wouldn’t be home in time and to eat without them.  It was strange.  Then after dinner, as I was serving dessert, Dad called and said to come to the hospital right away.  When we got there and he told me she was unresponsive and unlikely to make it through the night, I ran to the bathroom and threw up Christmas dinner.

That night Jaime and Molly and I went out for milkshakes.  They had a vigil the following day at the convent, as Ka was a Sister of Mercy (a nun, in laymen’s terms.)  My friend Katy sat next to me and held my hand.  The next night there was a wake.  I remember many of my friends coming and that got me through it, but I had a big panic attack beforehand.  Afterwards my friend Tom took me out to a party.  The following day was the funeral, and I sobbed over her coffin, then ran crying from the church.  I remember Christina, my best friend from youth, coming and sitting with me in the reception area during the Mass.  I had other friends around me as well.

The point is that my friends are the ones who got me though that, who made it so I could let go to the best of my abilities and send Ka off to the Philippines of my mind.  I went back into my LiveJournal to see what I was doing in 2006, and one thing is prevalent: friendship.  I was spending a lot of time with a lot of amazing people.

That was the year my aunt Mary and I went to New Jersey to meet Kevin Smith.  That was a year of many parties and Jackdaw concerts with Katy, Rick, and Tom.  The year me and Kev got acupuncture.  Endless Wednesday night get-together with Jaime, Andy, Molly, Chelsea, Steve, and Will.  Mad Yellow Sun concerts with Nick and Doug.  The list goes on.  The point is that I was at a low point and didn’t even realize it, and these people were there for me though it all.

Sadly, life, she moves on.  My friends are now scattered to the winds.  Andy and Christina live on different continents.  Katy, Will, Nick, and Doug live in different states.  The friends that I still have here have careers and families and lives to live, just like me, so it’s very hard to keep in touch, and eventually we all move on.

I put a meme on Facebook a while back about missing the bonds I used to have with people.  From that meme, I got an inside joke from my buddy Dennis, a message from Christina with plans to see each other when she’s next on this side of the planet, a coffee date with Chelsea, and plans to meet up with Lissa and Joe, my friends from college. 

Sometimes you just need to say “Hey-I miss your face.”

This is a weird post, as we went from death to friendship.  But what really gets us though death?  Our friends.  Sometimes our family can’t be there for us because they are grieving too, but our friends pick up that slack.  I blocked 2006 because of death, but I reopened that door while reading about my friends.  You, my random reader, don’t know these people, so you’re unaware, but trust me when I tell you that I have been very lucky in the good friend’s department.  They had the power to heal what was hurting in me when I didn’t even realize I needed to be healed.

I have been making a conscious effort to keep up with the people I love for the past few months.  Between my mother’s injury and my father’s radiation, I have been holding the people that matter a little closer, thinking of them a little more often, and trying to reconnect.  So, if you’re reading this and you’re an old friend of mine, please know I love you, and I miss you, and I will always be grateful for your place in my life. 

Call me.  Seriously.  Whenever.

To my lovely ladies…

Yesterday I was starved for topics, but today one came to me over my morning coffee and daily social media scan.  It’s International Women’s Day!

As previously mentioned, I am a huge fan of women’s rights, being that I am one.  Now, I personally think that if you are also a woman, you should be as outraged as I am.  I do, however, understand if you are not.

No.  That’s a damn lie.  I do not understand that at all.

You know what?  Let’s not go here.  Let’s detour. Let’s stop screaming about injustice for a few minutes and celebrate instead.

I’ve never had many female friends, with the exception of a 4 year period when I was surrounded by females in high school.  Even then, I had a group of boys at the public school that I hung out with. I’ll be honest and say that I never really felt comfortable around the girls at school.  I was kind of a tomboy, and my best friend was Kevin, with whom I had spent literally my entire childhood. I’d always been more comfortable playing Ghostbusters than Barbie dolls.  

Something happened in my 20s, however.  My female friends became more important to me, as the male ones sort of faded a bit.  When I got married, I had four of my favorite women beside me, and while Kevin stood mere feet away on Marks side, I realized that all my best friends were up there with me.  Mark, being the newest of them, and Kevin, being the oldest, but in between them…four amazing women.

If I can keep this blog going, I will likely mention them at some point, but I feel you should know them a little first.  Let’s go chronologically.

I met Beth when we were in Kindergarten.  She fell asleep on my shoulder during circle time, and somehow we were bonded for life.  Despite a falling out in 4th grade when she told her mom I broke her sisters toy, even though she did it.  Eventually she came clean and we’ve been good ever since. I have mostly forgiven her for the massive grounding my mother gave me over the incident.

When we were 18, Beth surprised me with the news that I was going to be a godmother.  This was deeply unexpected, but we spent the next 9 months planning and dreaming about what her baby would be like.  I was there the moment she was born, and it was truly a miracle. One little second of miracle, surrounded by like an hour and a half of gross.  But such is the circle of life. When Beth propped her up to take a look at me, and said “This is your Auntie Brig,” I obviously dissolved in tears.

I loved the crap out of that little baby girl, and still do.  D has grown into an amazing young woman whom I am proud to call my goddaughter.  Her sister came a few years later (and after Beth’s wedding to a great guy, which I missed because I was trapped in a subway car that was stuck under CIty Hall in NYC…you know what?  Another story for another day.)

We don’t see each other how we used to.  It used to be a five minute walk to her house, but now it’s a 25 minute drive.  Still, we get our kiddos together on occasion, and try to catch Shakespeare in the Park every year.  She has been there for me through everything, and has never stopped loving me, and has never made me doubt our friendship.  Her heart and compassion for others is truly astounding. I am so lucky to have travelled so long with such a great friend.

Next up we have Bernie.  Bernie burst on the scene on Halloween 1996 and totally screwed up the cushy only-child life that I’d had until then.  I will admit that at one point in my life, I resented a baby. Thing was, she was so small and fragile that I couldn’t help but also want to take care of her.  And I did. She was born with apnea and was hooked up to a monitor that beeped when she stopped breathing. When the alarm went off, my parents were supposed to go move her so she could breath better.  I don’t think those guys woke up ONCE. Almost every night I went into her room, adjusted her position until the alarm stopped, then went back to sleep. On her first Christmas, we fell down a flight of stairs.  She flew through the air as I hit every step on the way down, and I caught her at the bottom like a football. So really, I think my purpose on this planet is to continuously keep saving my sisters life. She dances with death a lot less now, but I hope she knows that I have always got her back.  Eventually my resent melted into fondness, which in turn became a love so fierce that I’m pretty sure it’s up there with how a mother feels about her child. I love my stepkids fiercely…I love Bernie even more than that. Perhaps it’s because I was a teenager when she was born, and was intrical in her upbringing.  Whatever it is, I’m so happy that it replaced that terribly jealousy that only a 13-year-old can muster. Bernie is my soft spot. She’s the chink in my armor where the arrow can pierce through. Try it. Say shit about my sister, I dare you.

She’s also the one who can calm me down best, and who loves me most, I think.  I love her most, too.

Jaime and I met in Sr. Donna’s freshman homeroom in 1997.  We both wore glasses and had an affinity for Aussie Ts. Because of this, Sr. Donna spent the next four years confusing us, which made for some hilarious situations.  I still remember the first time I called Jaime’s house. The anticipation of calling a new friend back then was almost as rough as the anticipation of calling your crush.  There was no texting, which would have been easier, just the fear of awkward silences and stalled conversations. Of course…that didn’t happen. We talked for two hours.  And again the next day. And then literally every day until texting was standard and we both had cell phones. We would sit on the phone watching Lifetime movies and rehashing our days, even though we just saw each other at school earlier.  Our conversation started in 1997, and hasn’t ended yet. Jaime is the friend that tells me like it is, but in a way that I appreciate. She’s also always been one to let me make my own mistakes. Take Mark. I know damn well she was concerned when we started dating again, but she stood by my decision and then ended up Maid of Honor at our wedding.  She always gives me good advice, and is always rooting for me, which is something I appreciate. Most of my memories of my teens and 20’s involve Jaime, and while we don’t hang out as much as we used to, I know I can text her any time and ask if she wants to go get ice cream and talk about things that annoy us. She is my rock, and I love her.

Lastly, Sahar.  Sahar and I met when we were 16.  We were both members of an Explorer Post that operated out of the New Phoenix Theater (someday I’ll write about my love of theater, and this place will feature prominently, but not today.)  She was different from most people I knew, mostly as she was the first Arab Muslim I had ever met. I had lived in a fairly white bread world, key word being white, and while I harbored no prejudices, I found her to be somewhat exotic as opposed to my other friends.  We were doing a play together, and she was the stage manager. I was the director. It was inevitable we would become joined at the hip, but it went farther than that. We developed a fast and strong friendship that is just as strong today as it was 17 years ago. She is the stage manager of my life.  She is my best sounding board and on top of that, my only real writer friend. We can talk about our lives as well as our writers block. We’ve stood together during all the dark times in our lives, and have remained friends during huge gaps of being out of touch, and now her being several states away and expecting her second baby.  Still, when she is here, I am 16 again, and we are laughing and dreaming how we always did. She’s like a human Xanax. She calms the storms and brings in the light, and I love her for it.

There are many other amazing women in my life.  Some I’m related to, like my aunts and cousins and of course, my mother, who will get her own blog entry sometime down the road.  Some I knew back in that school full of girls that made me uncomfortable-Chelsea, Molly, Jen, Christina…I may see them hardly ever, but I am always rooting for them.  My step daughters, E and K, who are women-in-training and make me proud all the time.

I think we need to cherish our female friends, and the women in our life that make it worth it.  I do, and I believe they do, too. So take a second today to remind the women in your life that they mean something.  

Sometimes, we forget that.

ladies