Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Gym Class

The tiniest of moments can change your life.

So there I was. Many years ago. The smallest of fifth graders. I tell you that not because it's of great importance, but because I like to set the stage. And also it's so truly rare that I think of myself with such great fondness as I do when I think of Fifth Grade Elizabeth and so I like to mention it. I had the cutest little bob with bangs and my skin was still all dewy and non broken out and I was so tiny that my uniform skirt had to be held on with suspenders because fourth graders wore jumpers so the skirts for the fifth graders didn't go as small as I was. I found it very humiliating but I also kind of liked it and secretly thought it made me special.

And so a few months into that year I forgot my gym clothes and I had to sit in the wooden bleachers of our old crazy catholic school gym and I truly believe someone reached down and did something in my universe that day almost 21 years ago and on that day some other girl in our class forgot her gym clothes too and here we are folks, 21 years later, best friends to this day.

And man have we seen each other through a lot. We have been left by our mothers together and let down by our fathers together. We have been selfish together and mean together and together we have pushed each other to rise above. SP has permed my hair, dyed my hair, ironed my hair, and cut my hair (although not all at once). She's been there through bad boyfriends and worse boyfriends and terrible girl friends. We've cried in each other's arms and we've cried long distance. We've gained weight together and lost weight together and we stood at each others sides as we both said I do to other loves in our lives and on the day I gave birth SP was right there holding my hand on one side as Mr. E stood on the other side and together all three of us welcomed our boy into this world and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I am sure our kids will hate each other with a fiery passion but I do have visions of waspy sleep away camps in their future and I hope we'll be standing there together in unintentionally matching outfits from J Crew as the bus to camp pulls away with our babies on it. I'd say I know we'd dry each other's tears but chances are we'll too busy gossiping about Lindsay Lohan to bother with crying.

Is it uncool now to say you have a best friend? I get that vibe from the world, but I'm not worried. The uncoolness factor is made up for by the fact itself. It's amazing and wonderful to have such a friend in your life and coolness just doesn't compare with that.

I think I mentioned that my dad has been emailing me and have I mentioned that one the things that I like least about him is his thinly veiled and bigoted strict moral code? Doesn't like profanity, doesn't like sex, really doesn't like gay people. And now unfortunately that's really going to have to just be his problem because I spent 22 years of my life censoring myself so that he wouldn't get all worked up and I'm done with that now and you know what? I laugh at the word rod, and I giggle whenever someone talks about beavers, and that's just who I am, and I can't not be that for anyone else. I'm not going to send my father a collage of the F word but I won't hide who I am when I am not ashamed of that person. I prefer laughing to yelling, regardless what it's about.

Anyway. Emailing my father. It's all been very nice and friendly so far and we haven't brought up any turds or punchbowls but he did ask me the other day about SP and if we were still friends and if she was married and I squared my jaw and wrote him back and told him that yeah she was married although since it was to a woman it wasn't technically legal but I know she considers it to be the same thing and I haven't heard back from him since then.

And as far as I'm concerned, that's really fine. I had hoped he had changed. I had hoped I wouldn't have to make a choice like this. I wish the world was a better place. But I insist on living in a world where love is always right, no matter what. And furthermore I think if there is anything I have learned in the past thirty years both from my father who abandoned me and from my best friend who did not it is that family is defined by much more and much less than blood relations and if I have to choose between my father and the person who's loved me and been there for me for the past twenty one years, I... Well. It is not a choice for me.



Chris H said...

Until you hear back from him on this, you won't know if he has changed or not.... unless of course you simply don't hear back from him..... whatever, you stick by your best freind, cos that's what best freinds are all about.AMEN.

Sarah said...

Is it uncool now to say you have a best friend?

Absolutely not. I have two that I met 20 years ago, on my first day of eighth grade as The New Kid in a school and town 3,000 miles away from everything and everyone I had known for my entire life until that point. Stephanie I met when we sat at the same table in Industrial Arts. Ellen I met because she sat behind me in English class. 20 years later and they are still my two best friends. I think it's so cool to be able to say I have known them for 20 years. I know everything there is to know about them and they about me. What's better than that?

PastaQueen said...

Nice to know that good things can happen in gym class :) I went to Catholic school until 2nd grade and there were days when I forgot my gym uniform too. It's also the school where I met my oldest friend who is sort of gay but married to a guy (kind of confusing, but it is what it is) so you were giving me flashbacks there. And, I have to see my dad this weekend for my brother's wedding and it will be 10 kinds of weird and I am thinking of taking up drinking even if it is all empty calories.

But yay for best buds!