You're one of my best friends. I am always amazed at how different we are, and yet also still mutually respectful and very loving towards each other. I am so grateful for the relationship we have together.
Sitting down to write, though, it's hard to exactly put into words anything quite succinct enough... so I'm just going to list things I remember.
I remember life in Larchmont with you and dad. That was a time filled with ice cream and also sadness. You and dad, being both terriffic people, really tried to make it work. Ultimately, you didn't end up good for each other as husband and wife. Your friendship with Dad now is a testament to how mature, forgiving, and compassionate you are.
I remember moving to the apartment on Alexandria Street with the pool where I slipped through the floaty water tube and sat on the bottom of the pool until someone rescued me. It was so quiet under the water and it was so loud on the surface. Recently, you told me about the neighbors who played the loud music until finally YOU HAD IT and you put a hammer through their door. I mean, you were a single mom in a shitty apartment building trying to get some rest before having to go back to work, so OF COURSE you would have been mad. Now, of course, that behavior seems totally foreign to everything I know of you: gentle, thoughtful, caring, contemplative. But it does show that you will stand up and fight back if you feel disrespected. Go MOM!
After that, we moved to the house in Eagle Rock with the cinderblock basement and the deaf cat named Bombsite. I remember being out on the deck in the sun. In retrospect, it seems like that must have been a very difficult and lonely time for you. It was soon after your divorce and you and Dad were still fighting. And yet I didn't get a sense of that as I was growing up. It was a happy time filled with lizards and cake. It is so amazing that you were able to keep yourself together and be a great parent, even as things must have seemed quite dismal.
I don't really remember getting to the part where we moved to Boston. I remeber a realllly long car trip and at one point, the car broke down and Willie Nelson was singing "On The Road Again," so appropriately. You were awarded a very prestigious Post-Doc position in the speech therapy lab in MIT. Why? Because you're amazing and brilliant!
We moved to this tiny little garage apartment (it seemed massive to me, but I think I must have just been small). I remember listening to Ry Cooder's "Trouble, You Can't Fool Me" (which I called the "Fishstick Song") and, as it seems to me in retrospect, ate only goldfish crackers (fish bobbos) and fishsticks. One year, my 4H group had a bunch of chicks as a project and needed somewhere to keep them over the school break... we brought these tiny chicks into the apartment and for a couple weeks had chicks running all over the kitchen. That was an amazing lesson... not in how chicks hatch and grow, but in how much you participated in my school and life.
You have always valued the outdoors and took me on long walks in the forest. We had many outdoor adventures... everything from cross-country skiing in Wonalancet to walks through the Arboretum. You've helped me identify different types of plant (the skunk cabbage, the trillian, etc) and this has really taught me to respect nature.
One night in Boston, we decided to go for a walk in what seemed like a nice, light rain. By the time we had walked about a mile, we were in a full-on torrential downpour and had to sprint home soaked as lightening took cracks at the huge oaks lining the streets. We arrived home laughing and a little shaken.
After you finished your post-doc work at MIT, you got a job at Virginia Mason in Seattle, so we up and moved back to your childhood town. We rented a really cool house on Greenbrier and I had water fights with the kids across the street. This was when you first introduced me to what would ultimately become a lifestyle: orthodontia. You dumped thousands of dollars into my mouth so I didn't have buck teeth anymore. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THAT. Every time someone tells me I have a great smile, I thank you mentally. There's no way I could be the person I am today if I didn't have straight teeth.
You worked a lot in those days and wore a lab coat, which struck me as really cool. After a while, you found a great house at the edge of Blue Ridge and we moved in. You used to talk all the time about the "great view." Prior to that house, I really hadn't heard the word before, but I remember going absolutely crazy with how many times that word was suddenly and brutally invading my life.
In retrospect, I have no idea why it bugged me. The house does have a great view.
Those were awkward times for me and difficult times for you. I was in the neighborhood public school and was struggling with being a stranger in a strange land. Because you always valued education, you later enrolled me in Bush School. We got a nanny named Karen Barderson and she sang a song called "It's the Little Things" about toast crumbs on the counter. Though Bush was supposed to be a great school, it really seemed cliquish and you and I had many talks about how I should have more friends (I didn't think I needed friends... I had books). You stuck up for me and believed me when I told you about how mean kids were. I know a lot of parents would just let their kid suffer through an experience like that, but you went to the teachers and to the principle to try to remedy the situation. Ultimately, it was a lost cause. This is when I first learned that people can be truly cruel to each other for reasons I will never understand: power, vanity, and popularity. I also learned that you had my back and would advocate for me based on my word.
You lost your job at Virginia Mason and started at Boeing, which was a long commute. Boeing was a real commitment for you and seemed structured differently than any of your other jobs. You worked in a cube with some people who were great and some who were not great. It was the first time I saw you as a career woman. I know the jobs before that job were part of your career, but for whatever reason, this job seemed different.
You put me in St. Catherine's Catholic School and I made a pact with myself that I would be outgoing and would get friends. You wanted me to have friends so badly and even though I was painfully shy, I knew I had to be the first person to introduce myself. It worked and, though talking to other people is still difficult, I have learned that one takes you as seriously as you take yourself... no one cares if you introduce yourself or if you don't, so you might as well.
After 8th grade graduation, I entered Holy Names and I'd say we kind of entered a different phase of our relationship. You were always reasonable where other parents seemed kind of irrational. My friends marveled that you didn't have a curfew for me. I just had to be home whenever it was reasonable to be home after whatever it was I was doing. If I had a movie to see at 7, I should be home by 10.
... I am going to have to continue this post later because I realize I have to get ready for work and I'm not even halfway into the story.