Thursday, December 01, 2005

I Love Lo, aka this is in no way designed to condone cigarette use

Through a comment left on an earlier blog entry, I was inspired to start a li'l series called "Friends: A Love Story." Or "Why-I-Love-My-Friends Stories." Or "Meet _____________ and Learn about Why They Kick Ass." Whatever. You get the idea. Because Lo's question about when I'd write about her inspired what will doubtless become a randomly-updated, formula-less series, she gets the spotlight first. I mean, as much as anyone other than me can get the spotlight in this li'l fiefdom called The Land of Starpower. With that:

Picture a 17 year old girl with auburn hair flowing down her back, mischievous auburn eyes, a smile for the world and forest green Birkenstocks on her dancing feet. She left her high school of 4,000+ people and was one of, mmm, 3 hippies. She was in college now, dammit, and was determined to meet more.

After a rad day at the student center buying posters for cheap, cheap, cheap; she and her roommate, L (not Lo), were hanging them up in their dorm. She was asking L if the poster of the giant tree in the middle of--nay, overtaking--a cityscape was properly centered when a girl walked in and was all "What's up, girls? Wanna go see a band at South Main Cafe?" This girl was a sophomore, also had on birkenstocks, also had long hair, some excitement in her eyes and was waving a flier in our face. We were all "Who are you??" and she was all "I'm Lo. Wanna go to the show?" We were all "Low? Show? Wha?" So she did a little jig and then immediately we got it. So we all did the little jig and hooked arms, singing and dancing in unison, all the way to South Main Cafe. The rest is history.

Not really. I have no idea how Lo and I originally met. Though it did involve our residence hall. The first memory I have of knowing her is her sitting on her bed and saying "killer" a lot in response to the killer things I was saying. We only chatted for a few minutes and I remember thinking, I hope we get to be friends. Not just because we both wore birkenstocks, but because she was really really nice. Shortly after that day she ran into my room to play me Sweet Pain by Blues Traveler. At 8 minutes long, it was the perfect cigarette song. She'd come to our room, we'd put on the song and lean our heads and cigarette-holding hands out the window to smoke. (It occurs to me now that those buildings are probably all non-smoking now (as they should be) but, then, it is Virginie, so who the hell knows, really.) Anyhoo, it's one of my favorite memories of freshman year, smoking out the window and singing Sweet Pain, which we did both loudly and badly.

Other favorite memories involve Sunday trips to McDonald's for cheeseburgers-without-the-meat meals with Lo, Anj, Hol, and my roommate, L. And more memories of Lo running into my room to play me Fast Enough for You when Rift came out. And Sparkle. And Silent in the Morning. And Phish shows like the one in Tennessee in that tiny club that was so shoddy they had to stop playing: there'd been no ventilation and there was so much condensation that it effectively started to rain on the equipment (at least I think that's what happened...). And I lost my little Guatemalan bag of a wallet. And our friend A left to take the freaking-out guy home only to learn that his car was stick-shift which she didn't know how to drive and they wouldn't let her back in the show so effectively left the show for nothing. And, in spite of it, it was a good time. Hmm, well, for Lo and I anyway.

Lo came home with me for Spring Break that year. Being that home was in clusterfuck generic Northern VA, she practically begged me if she could come along, you know, to witness the grandeur that was the massive sprawl outside our Nation's Capital. (Maybe it didn't go quite like that.) I was psyched that she was coming. For reasons unremembered, she took her car as well and followed me home. She was a very diligent follower, switching lanes whenever I did--almost hitting a semi one time, rolling her eyes at my lameness another when I pulled over to look at the mist on the Shenandoahs. This was before cell phones and Lo was all "uh, yeah, it's pretty" with an oh-my-gah-you-pulled-us-off-the-interstate-for-this-?-! look in her bewildered if slightly annoyed eyes. Sorry, girl. That was a little over the top. My birkenstocks made me do it.

So though NoVA in general was teeming with fast food, my little town had not yet been overtaken. We were still well-stocked with mom-and-pop Greek, Mexican, and Italian places. "Well-stocked" may be overstating the point: it was more like one of each, plus Pizza Hut, plus McDonald's. Interested in none of these options and nostalgic for a favorite high school activity, I took Lo on the 30-minute trek to Taco Bell. I loved the drive through the part of town I lived before I turned five, past the big church on the corner, down the big hill, past the elementary school where I went to Grade K (me telling my sister-the-2nd-grade-hot-shot, "it is too real school it's GRADE K!"), past approximately 27 strip malls, past my bff's bf's church, to just near the 12-Theatre Multiplex that was built when I was in 11th grade and cinemas with 12 theatres were seen as grossly over-consumptive (versus the norm it has become in suburban America today). After all that, we arrive and behold Taco Bell.

We get our food--as in good stuff like when they had tostadas--and sit down and chat away. We enjoy ourselves and take our time. What with the journey back, we may as well sit a spell, right? Well, the fella next to us seemed to be sitting a spell, too. He was an older man, late-fifties/early-sixties, I'd guess. After a time, it seemed like he was listening to our convo. Now when you're sitting in those tiny little two-people tables and you're next to each other a certain amount of eavesdropping is both unwitting and inevitable. But after a time, his eavesdropping seemed both quite witting and quite evitible (uh. yeah.). Lo and I continued our little chat but began to give each other the slight look-to-your-right-at-this-weirdo glances. It is beyond me how we'd been sitting next to him this long without noticing that he'd long been finished with his meal and was only sitting there drinking orange soda out of a little courtesy cup, which he'd judt gotten up to refill.

We were almost ready to go. We'd eaten slowly and were just about finished picking away at the rest of our lunch. Weirdo sat back down and did what appeared to be scratching his balls. I stifled a laugh because WOW he really got in there to scratch. Lo noticed, too, and was also stifling laughter. We talked for about 30 more seconds before I noticed that the balls he'd been scratching were only covered by tiny little blue cotton shorts. I also noticed that his penis was NOT AT ALL covered by tiny little blue cotton shorts. He was not ball-scratching after all. He was penis-liberating. Three cheers for the free old man penis! Thus making the drive that much more worth it!

Needless to say, we were outta there IMMEDIATELY. Driving home, we were half-horrified, half-doubled-over-with-laughter. I was proud to have shown Lo such a good time.

Maybe that trip was too perfect, too pure--she never came home with me for Spring Break again.

The next year brought even more interesting, more dramatic times. I remember this hot hippie with long blond hair who looked like Brad Pitt. We all talked about him as the "hot hippie" and hottie Lo began to date him that year. Sadly, they broke up. This happened just around the time my bf broke up with me. Lo and I would go to the Cellar to drink coffee and commiserate. Had we been of age, we would have been at the Cellar drinking lots of beers instead, so it's best we were too young. I don't know who had the harder break up but I do know that Lo's had a happy ending.

But not yet. As college went on, she met a new guy and they dated for a long while. He too was all hippie style, with long black hair and for some reason wearing sashes comes to mind (ugh). He was not hot. He was not nice. He was not good. After too long, they broke up. Praise be.

Lo and "hot hippie" maintained and on and off friendship throughout the rest of college, through the point that "hot hippie" was no longer a hippie but had short hair and became known as "Stephen." We had all been in the same group of friends so I can say that Stephen is top drawer. One of my favorites. A semester before me, they both graduated and moved away. And began to date! And moved in together! And a few years ago, got married! And, a few months ago, had a baby! The baby added to their family of Delilah, Email, and Stealth (bulldog, pug, and red-headed-step-child, er, I mean, cat). Yay, happy ending!!!

My college break up--well, the college break up referred to here--ended similarly. Those years ago, I ran into him as he was pulling out of town. He stopped at a bank that I happened to be in. No idea if he was a bank regular, but it was a bank that after four years of living there, I had never been to (that rascal-y Universe works in mysterious ways). In any case, he'd graduated college and was leaving town. Leaving-leaving. His crappy white Pontiac with the practice-random-acts-of-kindness-and-senseless-acts(?)-of-beauty bumper sticker was filled to its little gills with all of his clothes, journals, books, climbing gear and all his other portable earthly possessions. He was heading out to start his life in Alaska. The Great Unknown. The Last Frontier. Yeah, he was tragic like that. And that bumper sticker always struck me as ironic. I mean, maybe he was kind randomly, but on an interpersonal level, he was kind of a dick. So we greet each other at said bank and he tells me he's off to the big A. I was all, right now? He was all, yep, right now. So I was like, wow, good luck! He was like, thanks. It was a really nice exchange--an end of movie exchange. We didn't hug and everything. Then, with no tears in our eyes, he got into his car and drove off for the wild blue yonder. Aaaaaannnnd scene!

Clearly, the parallels of Lo's life and mine can be described as spooky at best.

Before we part, though, a run-down of things I love about Lo:

Her great big laugh
Her great big smile
Her great big heart (shucks)
Her ability to turn any song into a grating experience that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up--esp when accompanied by Anj
That she owns a mandolin and has taken mandolin lessons
Her determination to be the best person she can be and not in a grody-army-recruiter-way but in a take classes at night, work out at dawn, try new things, quit smoking and eat super healthy kinda way
Her goofy humor, which leads directly to:
Her fondness of Wayne's World
That she has a bulldog
That she named Delilah
That she married her best friend
Sweet Pain
Fast Enough for You
Sparkle
Silent in the Morning

All these memories and more. I'm so lucky we're still friends. What a treat it is to grow up with people--even if it only means checking in every couple of years. I'm glad I've seen Lo more often than that these last few. See you over the holidays, girl.

3 Comments:

Blogger Lo said...

Wow.
I feel I should comment on this little tale with something at least slightly as brilliant. But, alas, I am speechless.
Love ya girl (flicks away a tear).

1:15 PM  
Blogger Madelyn said...

aw! Love Lo!

6:43 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

Oh...my...god. Amidst all the code names and acronyms lies a world I am far too familiar with. And there is Lo's name right there. And your sista...(I think her name's...)

Stephen, that guy in the Pontiac, I fell like I should be in there somewhere. Boy, I could tell some stories. Remember that time you played me and my ex? HAHAHAHA, now THAT's a memory!

Love Matt

4:54 PM  

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