It is funny how the mind works sometimes… what sticks, what doesn’t. Today, is one of my childhood friend’s birthday. I haven’t seen her in years nor even heard about her, and yes, I’ve tried Facebook but she’s not online or doesn’t use her birth name.
At the silliest times we were together, at the saddest times we were together. We were in junior high school, we liked the same band and from there on we were great friends.
The 1970s in Los Angeles was a crazy time in history. There are few publications or movies that come close to the craziness that was everyday life then, there.
Surrounded by the counter-culture of the boomer generation, were we the next large group to come on the scene. In number, we were larger than the baby-boom, called originally the Second Boom, then Generation X. There were schools built to hold us, then closed as we finished the grade. The building budgets boomed. The child-focused advertisements expanded.
Pushed to the ultimate in competition, we were expected to exceed or self-destruct. All the access to unquestionably un-reasonability was at our fingertips, if not in the laboratory than certainly on the street corner. Encouraged extremism was status quo giving societal birth to everything skewed: violence personified in serial killers to reactionary fanaticism and everything excessive in between. This was the generation of speed metal and surf-bums.
In the middle of the pandemonium found in junior high school, there were those friends that understood the tornado of chaos in which we lived. And there was Sue.
I don’t think I ever laughed as hard in my youth as I laughed with her over the silliest little things. I can't ever forget the first time I drove on the freeway and the particularly ear-piercing scream that came from the passenger seat when I took the curve for the first time. I remember when she showed me how her step-dad wanted the carpet vacuumed in two different directions and that the shag had to all end up leaning the same way or she’d have to vacuum again. I recall hanging upside down on the elementary jungle gym bars & laughing so hard we drooled. I'll always appreciate the emotional refuge of sleep-overs that didn’t include much sleep. And of course, I’ll never forget how badly I hurt her feelings believing my then-husband’s story over hers. After that, our friendship just wasn’t the same. We drifted further apart but I only ever wished her well and nearly immediately wished that I had chosen differently.
It occurred to me today that it’s been more than twenty years since we spoke and that every year, on January 31st, I say out loud, “Happy Birthday Sue, wherever you are.”