123Valerie Strikes Again

Unprecedented Self-Indulgence.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

You Gotta Have Friends (Or the One In Which I Get Kind of Emotional)

My friend Hannah Banana is gearing up for brain surgery on Thursday. Yes. Surgery of the brain. Doctors are going into her wonderful little head and removing some pieces parts that are misbehaving, namely a tumor on her pituitary gland. An anatomical eviction, like a roommate gone awry.

"Tumor, sit down. We need to talk. I'm sorry, but I need you to move out by the 31st. It's just not working out. You're a mooch and a slob and you're starting to take up most of the apartment. The neighbors are complaining. Mrs. Pituitary downstairs says you're keeping her up all hours of the night with your hoodlum friends coming over, drinking beer and smoking the pot. You ain't got to go home, but you gotta get the hell outta here."

I won't pretend to understand the medical intricacies of how or why, but I do know one thing for certain: Hannah Banana is going to be just fine.

The surgery will help restore some of Hannah Banana's energy and light, which is boggling to me, because she already has a tremendous amount of energy and light. She's like a human fireworks display. I may have to purchase eclipse glasses just to hang out with her now.

Hannah Banana's challenges and the way she meets them with grace and faith really got me thinking that I'm so glad I have come to know her over the past months. And I started to express my gratitude to the universe that Megan Jane introduced me to her via the D.C. Sisterhood. Then I thanked the universe for Megan Jane. And then I began to send up my gratitude for all of my dear friends, which got me thinking about the ways you all have come into my life.

We moved around a lot when I was younger, and I kept up that pattern as I grew up. So, many of my best friends don't even know each other. I met all of you at different points and some of the stories are sad, most are funny. Some are just plain weird.

Adelka Ann, remember the first day I walked into Mr. Grossen's English class? I still had a trace of my Cakalaky accent and said, "Hey, ya'll." I give your plaid polyester pants all of the credit for our friendship. I thought your name was O'dell, and it was weeks before I realized that your parents were not a bunch of far-out hippies. Ha! I still remember a twirling Adelka Ann declaring, "Jack Daniels is my best friend!" Thank you for fixing my hair when my sister made me look like a Marine, and thank you for fixing my soul so many times over the years.

Allison Evans! The original D.C. Sisterhood Sista! Jewelry artist, astrology enthusiast and all-around phenomenal woman. Your welcoming words and virtual hugs were just what I needed when we met. I'm so glad to have someone else to star gaze with. I'd eat your melon balls any time, my dear.

Double A, you came to me via Brent when you needed a place to crash so you could commute to Canton. I gladly opened up my tiny basement apartment to the handsome pilots. You two sprawled out on the air mattress in the "dining room" and the couch, though I tried desperately to get one of you to cuddle with me in bed. Aw, Alex Adams, you were there when I first began my scary trek into performing my music.

Amber, we were two Cleveland girls stuck in Dayton, Ohio. Paired with two other nutso girls to live in a dorm room the size of a tortilla chip. Bunk beds a-go-go. You taught me that being myself is okay, even if I was slightly wack. You had Will's baby and then disappeared, but I'm sure you're doing fine.

April was Jesse's girl, that's how we met. I knew I liked you from the first moment we met because when I poured you a ridiculously large glass of chardonnay, you didn't protest, "Oh, no. No, I couldn't possibly." You just did. That's what I love about you--you're up for anything. Sometimes that means making mosaics and decopauging and sometimes that means killer margaritas and sexy school girl uniforms. Dickies and Nog 2006!

Autumn, I met you when your cat Ebony sneaked into our garage. I took one look at your permed poodle hair and homemade M.C. Hammer pants, and knew I HAD to be your friend or I would die. We spent a lot of time up in the trees and at the Dairy Mart buying your Mom's cigarettes and candy. I'm sorry that we've lost touch, but we're still connected. Fry Club Forever.

Bridget, you were the best roommate a girl could ask for! Your Mom was nuts, but she did buy us a lot of groceries. We worked endless shifts at Rock-Ola together, then spent countless hours talking about those endless shifts and the boys who populated them. You are a smart, smart cookie.

Bon Bons, for months, I got you confused with Brandy. I was afraid to talk to you because I couldn't figure out which one you were. My fraulein, I always wanted to see you in lederhosen because you reminded me of a Germanic princess, even while trying to shove chocolate chip cookies down the faces of Cantonians. Your art inspires me every day. God bless Joe's and the dirty things we wrote about ourselves on the bathroom walls.

Camie Chili Bowls, dear heart, we were so mean to you. So very, very mean. I don't know why you put up with us, but I'm glad you did because your Mom let us run around the dance studio topless to Paula Abdul. You were such a sweet, graceful girl, but goddamn, you could be really annoying. I hope that, wherever you are in this world, you are happy.

Cathy, oh honey, I hated you with a passion when our parents got married. As two little girls who were used to being the baby of the family, you and I had some fierce fights. I still have a bald spot from you. But, between knock-down drag-em outs, we managed to put on fashion shows to Milli Vanilli and log in endless hours of playing school--until both Ben Frese and Will Markley decided they loved you, not ME. You were the third-grade heart-breaker. I'm so glad we've grown up to love each other, because sweet pea, you were a raging brat back then.

Charles, we met as you were getting fired from Michael's Restaurant and I was getting hired. Had I known, better, I would have followed you out of the door. But, we were meant to be together anyway. You gave me some of the loveliest months of my life, and if I hadn't been such an idiot, you would have stayed under the Love heading and not Dear Friends category. But, such is life, and I'm glad to have you at all.

Corina, Corina. Little darling, where you been so long? You're not likely to ever read this, but you mean more to me than I ever let you know. We survived Theodopholous Kolomandos and his sauté-pan throwing rages. We survived boys and stupid jobs and that stinky little house on Belle Street. I hope we can survive Chip.

Goodness Glynnis, I have to admit that I was a little intimidated to meet you. Pause. But, while you have such an uncontained electricity that scared me a bit at first, I can't imagine not knowing your energy now. I am beyond grateful to know you and I recognize the positive presence you have on me and so many others. You know what I think of when you run across my mind, "All I wanna do is zoom-a-zoom-zoom-zoom and a boom-boom - JUST SHAKE YA RUMP." Memories.

Har Har Harwell, dear boy, when I first met you at Car Pool through James, I was impressed by your turtleneck sweater and your quiet confidence, but oddly for me, completely void of ANY sexual attraction despite your undeniable good looks. Now I know it's because you were meant for Megan Jane. Despite the ugly incident in the car, you have shown yourself to be an intuitive, honest and downright awesome man. I mean Awesome. I love your music, and I'm so glad you love mine.

Janeé. Oh, Janeé. A lovely bonus to my soured friendship with your sister. A delightful consolation price, you are. I'm sorry I'm such a fuckup sometimes.

Jessica Dutcher, I haven't seen you since I was five, but you were my first best friend, and you set the standard very high. You always let me play with the Peaches 'N Cream Barbie. You never laughed when I got too scared to climb the ladder to your tree house. I was very sad when you moved to Texas when your parents divorced.

Jerome, we became friends because of one of your girlfriends, we stayed friends because you had a lot of guys that became my boyfriends, and we stopped being friends because you got a new girlfriend. I'm glad, several years later, we picked up where we left off. You are the only dude friend I know who would willingly go to a Tori Amos concert with me. Granted, you got high as a flipping kite.

Kirstin. I'm sorry that I called you Kristen for the first two weeks we were friends. My little scrapper--I knew you were someone I wanted on my side at M&E. Little did I know that you carry the same loyalty and fierceness over to your friendships. We might have been a little sloppy at your bachelorette party, but you were still one of the most beautiful brides I've ever seen. You are an even more beautiful divorcee.

Kristina McKenzie Hot Pants Fried Mac 'n Cheese Bitch Ass Polumsky. You are the one thing I can sincerely thank Kent State University for. You are worth my entire $25,000 student loan debt. Lady, we got the Judge's Fuckin' Choice, okay? We won that flipping contest! Thank you Shaft. Thank you Kevin Sharp. No thank you, Stefinately. You were there when things were hardest with my Mamma, and I'm sorry that you know only all too well how I was feeling.

#1Laura! Oh! You are the sole reason I have survived work. You are a beacon of light and support and I love that you, too, can eat lunch at 9:30 in the morning. You're the One-Woman Welcome Wagon. Your optimism and drive motivate me to keep pursuing better things. Like hot boyfriends and glamorous jobs.

Lura Knight, we started out as neighbors and ended up as cousins. We had so much fun bopping around the neighborhood, having wrestling matches as Macho Man Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan and having Mummy Dinners. When my Dad married your Aunt Oretha, I was glad that we were cousins but sad we had to move away to Cambridge. But, then I met Autumn and Megan Jane and replaced wrestling with crotch-kicking, so it all works out, I suppose.

Mark, girl. You didn't like me when we first met at Coppers. Remember that? You said I was, "Too nice. Too perky. That girl is fake." Well, little did you know that I AM that nice. I AM that perky. And only the hair color is fake. God bless you for sharing the hooch in the back hallway and for always adding drama to every thing. And for you pork chops. Girl, they are to die for.

Matt Ellis, when I moved to North Carolina from Ohio, you made fun of me mercilessly. Now I know it's because you loved me, but back then, I just thought you were an ass. Well, you were, but a darling none the less. I'm sorry I was never quite in the same spot as you, but you always provided me with endless insight into the male psyche. It still hurts that you picked a girlfriend over our friendship, but she was pretty cute, so I understand.

Megan Jane, what can I say that I haven't already blathered on about here? Friends since the fourth-grade when Autumn and I developed girl crushes on you and Camie, you have more dirt on me than the FBI. You know that deep down, I'm not always really that nice. I'm not always really that perky, but you make me feel okay about it. Plus, you chose Danny Wood as your favorite New Kid, thus sparing the rest of us getting stuck with him by default. The Fry Club keeps expanding, and, if I had a dollar for every one of your friends that I have adopted as my own, I would have about $86.50.

Megan Pope! Oh my, we had some fun in two double ooohhhh. Thanks to Davey and Boys, we drank a lot of screwdrivers and made out! Such a bright heart you are. Superwoman and the first grown up hamster afficionado I knew. I miss you.

Scotty, it's so funny that as kids we were neighbors and now as adults we find ourselves, well, not exactly neighbors, but close enough. Who knew that after you spent years crushing on my sister Susie, I'd be the one you get stuck with? "Keep smiling. Keep shining, knowing you can always count on me. For sure. That's what friends are for."

Sean P.K. you get a spot here, too. Even though I met you years ago at Westminster when I visited Megan Jane, it took the second time around before I got the full effect. I appreciate your honesty, even though it often borders on saltiness. Swamp ass ain't nothing to be ashamed of—you've gotten more D.C. Sisterhood play than Nintendo, yo. Thanks for being my editor and for giving me a comfortable place to play my music.

Terri B! There's not much in my life that I thank the Catholic church for, but you are a true blessing. We made it through Mrs. Metzger's eighth-grade class. Do you remember when she dressed up as the Easter Bunny? What the hell was that about? You convinced nearly every one that you were bad ass, but not me. You helped teach me about all of the important things in life like sex, drinking, three-legged dogs and how cool it is for girls to play the guitar.

I told ya'll this blog was about self-indulgence, and today I indulged in my wonderful memories of each of you and so many more. I know there are a lot people I forgot. Maybe I'll just keep updating this as time goes on.

For now, keep Hannah Banana in your prayers for an easy surgery and a quick recovery. And send up a prayer of thanks for the friends in your life who know all of your secrets and haven't told anyone.

In the Comments section, tell me about a friend you've lost touch with. Maybe someone who reads this will know where to find them. That's how serendipity works, kids.


  • At 2:49 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    You started your period, didn't you??? Me too, yo. How's that for telling your secrets? (I've always been quite scaaaant-a-lous.) OMG I LOVE THIS BLOG, V. Thank you for writing on here. Seriously...It is pure joy to me. Love it almost as much as I love burnt peanuts.

  • At 4:52 PM , Blogger nolongermrsborell said...

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 1:42 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    ME TOOOOOO! haha. to clarify it is also pure joy for me and i also started my period. ha.


  • At 9:57 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


  • At 10:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I came across my name through Google and your blog sparked my interest- sure enough it is you! I have, at times wondered about you, where you were, how you were doing and I'm glad to see that you are well. As for me, I am well too, a great life and beautiful family- little to complain about. It is unfortunate that your memory of our friendship is that of a 'bitter' one because when your name or face drifted into my memory that was not the feeling I experienced. As for my dishonesty, I apologize for whatever it was that tainted our friendship. I hope this finds well.

  • At 1:21 AM , Anonymous Val said...

    Wow, B. It makes my heart sing to hear that you're doing well. And you're somebody's Mom? That's beautiful.

    Geez, I don't think we can get any more 21st century than reconnecting over comments on a blog. Not exactly the way I imagined, but we were both good at rolling with the punches, so onward and upward.

    I'm not surprised to hear from you--Mercury goes retrograde tomorrow. A classic occurrence of this planetary transit is that people from our past often come out of the word work, and it gives us a chance to revisit things. I hope you get a similar opportunity from the heavens.

    I think that's a wonderful theme, and everything for a reason, right? I always assume I'm relatively anonymous here, but everything is as it should be.

    I really value you for letting be myself and for letting me see the beauty of being honest. Well, as much of "myself" as I could've been back then. You were always so funny and warm and welcoming. I was so moved by how comfortable and at-home you were with yourself.

    But, good, bad or indifferent, I am remembering everything with a 16-year-old's heart, you know? And that 16-year-old remembers a friend who changed so much over the course of a couple years that I didn't recognize you.

    From my vantage point, I watched a woman who I saw as so beautiful being herself eventually morph in to someone that didn't even bear a trace resemblance to the B I originally met.

    Years later, I can objectively say, "Well, hell, Val. How much did you change in a couple of years back then? Even now? You're not the same person you were last year. Try to understand."

    So, your re-emergence has called my heart to do just that--to understand, rethink and revisit. And, rereading even the words I put down just a few months ago, it strikes me how silly my perceptions were. It's not even about forgiveness--you did nothing that needed forgiving, unless we count growing up as a transgression.

    But, as a background, that, to me, is where the "dishonesty" came in. Back then, I thought I saw it in a million tiny ways, such as your clothes and music and even your speech, but I also felt it manifested itself in big ways.

    I know the move was hard and awkward for a lot of reasons, but I remember a lot of unreturned phone calls and letters on your part. The times I came back to visit, you had no real inclination to talk, to catch up, to reconnect, and I was left feeling that all we had built up was a farce, when in reality it was probably just the natural turn of things.

    That, too, comprises the "bitter" part. Not the best phrasing on my part, but, in essence, I simply meant it was bitter having to confront the reality that it was over--that not all friendships are meant to last.

    As we're revisiting, I am all too happy to concede that I was a mess back then, honey. Oh, Lord, yes. I was a desperate girl, and we both know I took some twisty paths. It's taken me years to get over the whole Nikki ordeal, but I guess that was just one more negative thing I unfairly associate you with.

    I always had this idea that you or your family should have warned me, and thinking back, I'm sure you did. My head was a bit foggy back then, though, so unless someone hit me square in the face with something, I wasn't apt to get it. Not your fault at all, and, if I'm being honest, my heart knew she was lying the whole time.

    Ironically, I do have to thank her for solidifying what I always knew in my heart anyway--I love everybody, and I could care less about what's in someone's pants. That has remained true over the years, though I am far more aware of manipulative, devious people in general and haven't done so well on the love front, as I'm a bit skiddish. One lesbian who lies about having cancer and threatens suicide at least one a day can really mess a person up, ya know?

    I should also clarify that I often write when I'm a one end of the emotional spectrum, and back in late August when this was originally penned, I was smack dab in the middle of grieving for my Mom, so it's a bit tainted--that's a good word you used.

    I'm not out of the woods yet, and I still have wicked off days when I'm sad and angry and desperate, but most of the time, I'm really quite pleased with how I turned out. Minus the late-puberty baby fat that hit around age 21. What the eff?

    So, I've removed that passage, and I'm glad you found me and gave me a chance to revisit my perceptions based on adolescence and complicated grief and regret.

    If you're so inclined, B, you can always reach me at 123Valerie at gmail.com. And if you're not, I absolutely understand. I haven't exactly made a great case for my evolution as a stellar adult. In any case, look for an updated section near your name after I let this process a bit.

    I'm just so pleased that you have cultivated a love-filled life. That's what it's about. I try to highlight the light I've got in my life on here, but usually I just end up retelling stories of my dumbass antics, of which there are plenty.

    Whether we speak again or not, please know that you brought much to my life, and this is a good lesson that much can change quickly--for better or worse. Please give your family my best.


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