Old Friends

On top of spending the last few days with Nell, which would alone have made for an amazing weekend’s time travel, yesterday we saw a family I’ve known since before I can remember.

Monique, Sam, Lach, Annika, Naomi

I haven’t seen them since I was ten years old. I don’t have a photo of that last meeting handy, but here for your reference is a picture of Lach and myself shortly after our families first met:

Annika and Lach

Isn’t it amazing? (And wasn’t I cute?) This is the first time he’s ever been taller than me. As I told Sam yesterday, he was my first friend. It is so good to know them again.

Did I ever tell you about the time I spent $23,000 to get myself a husband?

In 1995, shortly after earning a high school diploma (GED), I applied to college. I had a very laissez-faire attitude about the whole thing, applying to only two schools. After several years as an autodidact, I simply did not care if I was accepted. And so I was not particularly concerned when Bard said “No, thank you” (nor was I surprised, as they’d made it pretty clear that they did not know what to do with a homeschooler’s application — no grades? Sacrebleu!). I was accepted at Antioch, which is no big surprise since they accepted something like 99% of applicants. I was intrigued by their co-op program, so I accepted their acceptance (if you know what I mean).

After I sent off my applications, I went off to the City to work for a film festival (warning: the linked post is LONG). It was pretty awesome, as Nell can attest. While I was doing that, I sent off a request to defer my enrollment at Antioch. I stayed in New York till I ran out of money and housing, at which point I moved back in with my mom for a few months; then I was a nanny for a while, and eventually I was 19 and decided that it was time to give college a try. (I felt that I was already a bit old and experienced to be a freshman, and that if I wanted that experience it was now or never. I never thought there was a time limit on education. Just so we’re clear.)

So I went to Antioch that fall, and if you read the post I linked to in the previous paragraph you know I hated it. I made a few truly marvelous friends, though — people who are important to me to this day. It was because of Antioch (sort of) that I met Nova. And of course I met Will there. Our romance was a strange one (read all about it here) and probably shouldn’t have lasted, but here we are and it’s going on ten years. So the cost of tuition was worth it, but I do not for one second regret leaving after a year. If not for Will (we met in the second half of that year) I’d regret not leaving sooner.

Antioch sounds like a great school. Small classes, passionate professors, design-your-own curriculum, and a co-op program that allows students to work in their field every other trimester. In actuality it is a claustrophobic campus of about 300 people where nearly everyone’s fucked everyone else and half the students are trust fund activists. The professors range from inexperienced to stoned to crazy with the occasional remarkable gem. The general education requirements are more stringent than at most academic schools. And the co-ops program is a joke, because a bunch of kids who’d never been on their own before fucked up on the job and got Antioch blacklisted by all the cool companies. So you have to find your own co-op, and I know more than one person who worked a shitty job “for credit” and stripped on the side to pay rent. Not that there is anything wrong with stripping, but I am fairly certain they weren’t allowed to count that as their cross-cultural experience (another joke of a requirement).

Some people loved Antioch, found exactly what they needed there. I am not knocking their experiences. I am delighted for them, in fact! Nova, for instance, discovered who she is while at Antioch, and met the love of her life there, too. But I felt, personally, that it was a tremendous waste of my time.

Except that I got a husband out of it. And he is worth all the crappy school experiences on earth.

I bring all of this up because today Yojo told me that Antioch is closing due to lack of funds/enrollment. And I laughed. And then I felt bad and wanted to explore why I felt so… not pleased, but maybe a little bit vindicated.

Slow down!

The other day I got a message on MySpace from my aunt Carla, who’d posted my cousin Leah’s senior pictures.

Senior. Pictures.

I met Leah when she was about two years old and I was fourteen. There is NO WAY she is old enough to be taking senior pictures. Let alone GRADUATING next year.

I submit the following evidence:

Annika and Leah Leah

Obviously, this is IMPOSSIBLE. It must be trick photography.

Help. I am entirely too old.

My second-favorite thing about being a Grown Up

(My first favorite can be found here.)

Will is downloading music like a fiend today. Good music. Really quality 80s hair metal*. And you know what? Now that I am an adult I can accept and revel in the fact that I FUCKING LOVE POWER BALLADS. He downloaded “High Enough” by Damn Yankees and after proving that I still remember every word after fifteen years I said, “Dude, how about some Firehouse?”

The best thing about “Love of a Lifetime” is the bridge, wherein they sing the chorus half a step higher. AWESOME.

I am taking suggestions for awesome music from my misspent youth. My memory, she isn’t what she used to be.

*1990 was so still the 80s.

On Friendship.

Seeing those old letters (I might post more and I might not) has me thinking a lot about friendship.

I can say with absolute certainty that the friends I made at Powell House (from ages 14 to 18) are the best friends I have ever made. With a few exceptions, of course, like Will. And Katherine. And — well, I’m not going to list all of the exceptions. I’d forget someone and the last thing I need to do in a post about friendship is hurt a friend’s feelings.

I wasn’t in touch with any of those Powell House people for years. Except Mark. And, well.

A few years ago Tem called (everyone else spells it Tim again but I didn’t get the memo) when work brought him out here and we’ve visited a couple times a year since. And now work is bringing him and Andrea and their kids out here to live, and I am over the moon about it.

Last summer I saw Nell and Riva at the reunion and it was nice but they have been in touch this whole time and I felt SO out of place. Awful. That reunion was so incredibly hard for me. I’m sure it didn’t help that I was still just barely functioning after Sam’s birth two months earlier. Next time I will take a pass on the crippling anemia, OK? Anyway — about a month ago I saw an incoming link to this here blog from a website I didn’t recognize and it turned out it was Nell’s blog. So we’ve been stalking each other ever since (go read her blog, it is excellent) and it is like no time went by. In a good way, not a creepy way. Rather than revert to our teenage selves, we’ve picked up the friendship at our new places in life and we still get along fantastically. I said to her the other day that I miss being 17 but it isn’t true. I wouldn’t give up my life now for anything, but I miss the people I was friends with when I was 17. Will is the person with whom I share my life, with whom I do the crazy fun stuff I used to do with them. But it is nice to know Nell again.

Riva’s next. I guess I should send her an email.

I didn’t know how badly I needed this reconnection. 2005-2006 was a rotten year for me — I lost so many friendships. One so-called friend told me to my face she didn’t respect me and didn’t see the problem with that. A lot of mutual friends sided with her. Our supposed best friend took advantage of us, lied a lot, and dumped us. And then there was the one that was my fault. That one still hurts. I’ve always considered myself a very good friend. The one you call at 4:00 in the morning. The one you can tell anything and I never judge, never hold it against the person you’re upset with, just listen. But I couldn’t be supportive of her, and I told her as much. And it sucked. It also sucked that she misrepresented why I was no longer her friend and I lost another dozen friends and acquaintances over it, but it was my choice to stay quiet on the matter just as it was my choice not to be her friend. Still, once you’ve failed like that you question your ability to be a true friend to anybody. And now I am finally remembering that I can be.

I’m not very good at the wrap-up. So, um — I’m going to change the subject!

Coming soon: The Noirbettie Awards Ceremony (finally), Book Review: The Dangerous Book For Boys, and much, much more!

Flashback: circa 1996

Andrea (whose blog has gone missing) might know when this photo was taken. I am guessing from my haircut (or lack thereof) that I was 18 going on 19. When I turned 18 I shaved my head, and this looks something like my hair did as it grew in.
Annika

It is possible that I was as young as 16, with the exact same hair explanation. I was kind of predictable, with the cutting of the hair and the painful growing out of the hair and all.

Still no scanned letters, but Andrea promises they are coming soon. I am getting a bit nervous.

Awesome things that happened today

  • I finished one of my socks. Here’s hoping I don’t suffer from Second Sock Syndrome.
  • I took a two and a half hour nap. Actually, we all napped.
  • When we started started telling Sam all the parts of him we love, he brought us his book I Love You Through And Through, which we were essentially quoting.
  • When we got to the page that goes, “I love you silent and talking,” he started talking on cue. (He still speaks his own language. Nanana.)
  • I beat the Mos Eisley level of Lego Star Wars without Will’s help (though I confess that Sam was instrumental to my success).

It doesn’t seem like much at all when I write it down, but truly, today was lovely.

Nell and Tem called to tell me they’ve unearthed all the letters I sent them fifteen years ago and are scanning them. You KNOW I’ll be following up on this with evidence of what an awesome/weird/pathetic (TBD) teenager I was. Stay tuned!

My college roommate is raising a fist in triumph

(She never was too bright, poor thing.)

—Did you hear the news, Mr. President? The students at the University of Pittsfield are walking out of their classes, in protest over the war.

(spits out coffee) Wha— What did you say?

—Apparently, students are standing up in the middle of lectures and walking right out of the building.

—But students love lectures. If they’re willing to give those up, they must really be serious about this peace thing! How did you hear about this protest?

—The White House hears about every protest, no matter how small.

—Oh, right, I remember.

—You haven’t heard the half of it, Mr. President. The leader of the group says that if you don’t stop the war today they’re going to . . . to . . . I’m sorry, I can’t say it out loud. It’s just too terrifying.

—Say it, damn it! I’m the President!

—All right! If you don’t stop the war . . . they’re going to stop going to school for the remainder of the week.

—Send the troops home.

—But, Mr. President! Shouldn’t we talk about this?

Send the troops home.

(An aside to Antiochians: I gave Sam his own keychain to play with. On it is my 11D2.)

From The New Yorker, via Dooce.

When Sam was very small

This must be Nostalgia Week — I just came across the greatest picture ever taken of me and Sam. Or I guess I should say it’s the greatest picture ever taken of me, Sam, and a port-o-potty.

me and Sam

Photo by Batinah, taken at Powell House on July 16, 2006.

(Scroll down if you’re itching for drama! I have the nerve to enjoy my child and think he should be a part of the world! Anonymous commenter thinks I should raise a Unibomber instead! Other commenters have thoughtful, interesting opinions! Exclamation mark!)