Tag Archives: Friendship

Idaho? Oh Balls.

7 Jun

The last time I started a new school I spent a good amount of time crying and begging my mom to let me be home schooled. This time I was out of tears. I had spent over 2 weeks crying. September came and I had resolved to attend school without protest, but also to make no effort whatsoever to make new friends. Which proved to be quite easy since all the girls seemed more interested in mocking my clothing, hair and make-up instead of getting to know me. I’ve never been a “blender” and decided to keep my identity. I wasn’t going to change myself for these vapid girls.

 

Just like every high school there were the obvious groups, except at Meridian High School they all kept to their own clique. There were the jocks, the nerds, the punks, the pot-heads, the emos, the pretty girls, the juvenile delinquents, the choir kids, and the band geeks and the drama freaks. I couldn’t find a place among any of those groups if I wanted to. I’m not athletic, I’m intelligent but not nerdy, I didn’t smoke pot, I didn’t wear black and listen to punk music, I wasn’t bound for prison, I was pretty but would rather pluck out my eyelashes than hang with those pretty girls, I wasn’t in choir, I didn’t play an instrument and I had no desire to make friends with the up-beat drama freaks. No, I was determined to mope about at home, stay depressed and just get through the school year. And I was sure about 1 thing. I would not make any friends, because in a year or 2 I would have to say goodbye. Because that’s how my life went. I’d settle in, make great friends, form a life I loved, and then I would be uprooted and have to start over. Well if I never started, I’d never have to start over. In my head, that made sense. (Yes, I would have emotionally fit in with the emo kids.)

 

I did pretty well when it came to not making friends. My health wasn’t exceptional so I missed school often, and if you don’t talk to a person they don’t become your friend. The only time I struggled was at lunch time. I used to have such a good time with all my girlfriends in Lake Stevens at lunch. We’d sit together, laugh, share food, gossip… Now I had 30 minutes of being alone with my food. For the first few days of school I ate in a hallway, sitting up against a locker, but people talked to me. Mostly outcast freshman, I didn’t want company. So I took my lunch elsewhere.

 

For 2 months I ate in a stall in the girls bathroom. I know what you’re thinking, I think that too. Sometimes I would cry and sometimes I would finish eating and start on homework. Again, I am well aware of how bizarre this was as I was the one in there.

Btw, do you have any idea how many bulimic teenage girls there are in this world? If I had to guess, at least 25% of the girls in my high school were. I would hear girl after girl throwing up while I tried to keep my lunch down. And if they weren’t throwing up, they were shooting up, snorting up or generally getting effed up. Those girls I reported, I had to do something. I couldn’t just be the weird girl eating her lunch in the bathroom while criminal activity was taking place. I gave myself a higher purpose. I was an undercover cop busting girls abusing substances. Except without the cop part. And my cover was a bathroom stall. And I would just tell the front office after I was done eating and they had left.

One time when I reported some girls for drug use in the bathroom, the office woman asked me, “How do you always happen to be in there when they are doing drugs?” I replied matter-of-factly, “I eat in a stall.” She cocked her head to one side and frowned, “Oh child, have you no friends?”  I sarcastically replied, “Oh yes I do, I just have a sensitive bowel.” She was not impressed and that response probably discredited furthering reports.

 

Time passed.

 

In December I accidentally made a friend. Our teacher changed the seating assignments and I was placed by this girl who always gave me dirty looks. I don’t know why she did, I had never said a word to her. For some reason, she decided to talk to me that day. Come to find out she was completely unaware of her facial expressions. That’s just what her face does when she’s not thinking. We ended up having a lot in common and after 3 full months of staying mum, it felt nice to talk to someone.  She asked me where I sat at lunch (I avoided that question) and said I was welcome to join her friends. And so I did from that day on. (Years later I told her where I had been eating lunch before she invited me to eat with her. Immediately she looked puzzled, nearly sad perhaps, then she couldn’t stop laughing at me.) I had made a friend!  And soon I started making more.

I created a good circle of friends in Meridian, Idaho. But unlike in Lake Stevens where most were girls, I only had 1 girlfriend. Kim. She meant the world to me. She saved me from loneliness, sadness and all the other negative-nesses I was inflicting on myself.

We had a mutual love, Brownie Batter. (Yes, I was blonde for a while…)

 

The rest of my friends consisted of 6 teen boys affectionately referred to as “The Guys”, they were like brothers to me. By January I was happy with life in Idaho.

But as my general happiness with my social life started to rise, my physical health declined. It was declining so fast that by the last quarter of my sophomore year I went to school once a week to get assignments and spent the rest of my time in bed doing homework, resting so I could see my friends on the weekend. This period of time was difficult for me. The decline was so rapid that I had little time to adjust to my new limits. I frequently over did it with activity and would experience extreme pain, fatigue and occasional paralysis in my legs as my body tried to recover from the physical damage I inflicted up on it. I’m not saying I went out running or mountain climbing. I would pay heavy consequences for walking around the mall for an hour. It was hard to adjust to this new lifestyle of limits, physically and especially mentally.

My brother would stay home from school to take care of me on my bad days, as my parents could not miss anymore work. During this time my brother and I grew even closer than we already had been. I depended on him for so much. He’d bring me my pills, make my breakfast and lunch, he’d watch endless movies with me and tolerate my afternoon habit of watching Star Trek. And when I would lose the use of my legs, he’d carry me around wherever I needed to go. Even to the bathroom. He was amazing. Seriously, a girl couldn’t ask for a more perfect brother, or best friend.

 

Soon my regular doctor was unable to help with my pain management and became very concerned as my quality of life declined, so he referred me to a Muscular Dystrophy Specialist in Boise.

Enter the best doctor ever! He was dry and sarcastic, a bit of a tool actually, and slightly intimidating but had a soft spot for people with MD, especially children. He was amazing at what he did. He also introduced me to the community of MDA, thank God for MDA!

 

 

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Why I’d Fail (or succeed) in Advertising

31 May

A few days ago a friend of mine, V we’ll call her, from MDA Camp came to me asking for some creative help in making a poster. She too is on the Help Susie Bandwagon and planned to share Susie’s Story with 20,000 nerds in an online community she’s active in. These awesome nerds have been very successful at helping raise funds and awareness for charities in the past. We both were hoping they would decide to aid in Susie’s quest for a new heart. Ultimately she designed this online poster and shared it with her nerdtastic peers!

 

 

As I was brainstorming a properly worded tag-line to go along with V’s Save Ferris idea, I got a bit side-tracked. V knows this is a hazard of working with me creatively and she welcomed my spin on things. Well, she welcomed the spins but she wasn’t going to use them, obviously. I came up with a number of mildly offensive yet wildly hilarious ideas. Most of which would have been upsetting to uptight people (probably the rich ones who could pay for the whole transplant). Some ideas I didn’t share with V because I knew I was completely out of line.

What I did come up with, I believe,  is nice balance of politically incorrectness and funny. I think it will work with the audience I am trying to reach. Ya know, the ones who can laugh? So here you have it! Do me a solid and spread it around please!

 

I was thinking to have V make a few more posters with varying world issues/crisis’ crossed out. And this my readers is why I would fail or succeed in advertising. You’d either love my work, or find it offensive. Either way though… You’d see it and you’d definitely remember it/talk about it (for good or bad reasons, it doesn’t matter in advertising). So I think that’s a win for myself and Team Susie!

Whether or not you choose to share either poster, please take a couple of minutes to read my Post About Susie, and Visit Her Site.

Thank you! And Happy Thursday Everyone!

 

PS – Suggestions for poster ideas are welcome! Please share in the comment box.

Help me, Help her.

25 May

I’ve been feeling a sense of urgency to write but honestly I have absolutely no idea as to how I should approach this cry for help. Every time I sit down to write I feel overwhelmed with emotions. So many memories race through my mind and all sorts of ways to reach out to you come into my head. I’ve been getting so wrapped up in the words I should use that I’ve actually delayed this post. And this post needs to get out there, like a week ago. I’ve decided to stop thinking and to start typing. This may not be my prettiest or my most cleverly worded post but it is the most heartfelt and sincere.

Here is a little back story before I get to the point of this whole post.

I attended MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) Camp through my teen years and had the opportunity to form amazing friendships which are actually more like a family unit. To break it down further, we’re pretty much an underground organization of super heroes, but I am bound by oath to not elaborate. These friends were (and are) a source of community as I struggled through all the crap MD brought me as a child, teen and young adult. They understood my pain, suffering, loss, and every day challenges. They understand the frailty of life, they appreciate each day as if it was their last. Because it could in fact, be their last. They are MY people. And I love them.

Joining this elite group of kids exposed me to many opportunities for growth. We taught each other how to live with pride and how to find happiness in the hand we were dealt. We built each other up throughout the year and looked forward to that one week out of the summer where we came together and didn’t feel handicapped. It was all about us, and having fun. Camp holds a very special place in my heart, as do all the people who attended or volunteered that week.

With all the reward that came with knowing other MD kids it wasn’t apparent to me that this group had a down side. Most MD diagnosis’s come with a life expectancy. At age 15 I was given the number 21. I never put it together that some of my friends, these close friends whom I loved and admired, also had a number placed on them. I was 18 and being healed from the pains of MD when I experienced the heartache and grief that comes with losing a friend. I also felt an extreme amount of guilt. Why was God healing me and not my friends? I felt so guilty that I was pain-free throughout my body, while my friends were getting worse.

The first friend I lost to this disease was a best friend, 7 years ago. Her name is Cassandra and we definitely were a dynamite team. Her wit matched mine, her passion for life was like nothing I had witnessed before and seriously, nothing phased her. She knew her limits and plowed through them whenever possible, she loved adventure just like me. Her and I connected from the day we met, which was my first day ever at MDA Camp. We were bunk mates through the years and inseparable at camp. We continued our friendship through telephone calls, sleepovers and fundraisers. We were a team to be reckoned with! OK, we actually were just sarcastic trouble makers who enjoyed eating all the free pizza…. but we did raise SOME money. I lost Cassandra in 2005 and not many days pass where I don’t think about her. Where I don’t wish that there was a cure for what she had or that God would have healed her too, that I don’t wish I could have made it to her funeral, that I don’t wish I would have returned her phone call sooner. I was two days too late and kept getting her voice mail for a few weeks. It wasn’t unlike her to not check her voice mail, so I didn’t think twice about it. A close friend had to tell me over the phone of her passing. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t breathe. I feel the same sorrow now as I type this. I miss her. I miss her so much.

Soon after I lost Cassandra, I lost another close friend, affectionately nicknamed “Homie”. Homie and I met on my first day of camp as well. He was a “wanna be thug”, as I always told him. He’d wear his bandana and listen to (far too loud) rap music like he knew what was up. But in reality he was the softest, sweetest, most loveable guy I had ever met. We’d hang out when he was in town and I spent the weekend at his house with his family a time or two. I miss him.

Three years ago I lost another close friend, Matt. He was a jokester. He was fun and slightly mischievous. He also loved, no, was obsessed with trucks and race cars. He asked me to my first “Big Boy Dinner” at camp. Every girl wanted to be on the arm of one of the Big Boys (they were the oldest boys at camp, the dinner was always fun and delicious, and we got to dress up!), it was a pretty big deal for us. Whenever I hear the song “Free Fallin” I think of our first dance together, and every dance after then to the same song. Our song. I miss him.

I shared these very personal experiences of loss with you so you can better understand why I am so passionate about the following person. This post isn’t intended to be about loss, it’s about saving a life.

The life of a friend of mine, the life of Susie.

Susie and I met at camp. Since she is 4 years younger than me and in a different cabin, we didn’t have tons of opportunities to hang out. But when we became cabin mates during my final year at camp, I was blessed with the chance to get to know her better. The thing about Susie that stood out to me was her heart. She is kind, compassionate, loving, tender, caring, sympathetic, and sweet. Susie’s heart is what makes her so special!

Last week Susie informed me and all of our friends that she needs a new heart. But in order to get on the transplant list she needs to come up with a huge sum of money to prove she is a worthy candidate. This down payment so to speak will show that she can afford all the costs that come along with receiving a donor heart. For example; relocating closer to the hospital, follow-up treatments, and medications. Currently she has a pacemaker/defibrillator that is keeping her heart from stopping, but this isn’t good enough for the long-term. She needs a new heart to save her life.

I refuse to do nothing when I can do something. I couldn’t save Cassandra, or Homie or Matt. And I know I can’t save Susie all by myself, I need you. I need the readers of my blog. I need the fellow bloggers who enjoy my ramblings and interact with me on a weekly basis. I need the world-wide-web and the people living in it to use all their Social Media Super Powers to get her story out there! I know we can do this together.

Susie’s page can be found here (updated): http://www.giveforward.com/susieslvad  (This is her most recent site, to help her with the expenses surrounding her LVAD while she await a transplant.)

I’m not going to beg for money, although I’m not above that in the least. Today all I am asking of you is that you please post the link above to your Facebook page and encourage others to do that same. Or Send it in a mass email to your friends/family/coworkers urging them to read it and forward it on to their friends/family/coworkers. Or Twitter it (Tweet it? Idk, I don’t do Twitter)…please get the word out there as best you can. If you feel moved to donate, then do so. I thank you from the bottom, top and all sides of my heart for whatever action you are able to take.

This world needs people like Susie, and I need Susie in this world. I nearly fall to pieces thinking about mourning the loss of another friend. Please. Help me, help her. Let’s get Susie on the transplant list!

Thank you.

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Leah

2 May

I’ve written this post several times over but I struggle each time because our history is ugly. Leah and I didn’t have much of a relationship growing up. We lived in the same house and for several years, the same room. We were sisters by blood but that’s as far as the connection went for most of my life. I don’t want this post to bash my sister, that’s not why I am writing it. As an adult I have been able to look back and reflect on Leah’s early years, and gain perspective as to why she hated me (turns out she didn’t really hate me, she didn’t like herself and had a lot of inner pain). And because of my ability to remove myself from the equation and focus on understanding the bigger picture, I’ve been able to release myself of all ill feelings and resentment towards Leah.

Leah experienced feelings of rejection as a little girl. My parents separated and our dad disappeared for a while. Leah was left with feelings of abandonment and although she was only 2 when it took place, she remembers it in detail. As a 2-year-old you perceive things quite differently. Those feelings never changed as Leah grew older. And although my parents had reconciled and to this day maintain a beautiful and healthy relationship, she held on to old feelings formed in an undeveloped mind  that belonged to a little girl. Those feelings had an unhealthy effect on her relationship with our dad, as well as with myself.

Soon after my parents reconciled and started working on their relationship, I was conceived. Leah was 4 when I was born and she took to the big sister role quite well. She did however struggle with sharing the attention of our parents. For a while it had been just Leah and our mom, and she had just got her dad back when I popped out. That was difficult for her, but the real issue came around when I was able to talk and assert myself.  Around the age of 4 or 5 I no longer took orders and had my own ideas and opinions. When I was 1 my brother Bryan was born and he became my BFF. I no longer needed Leah as a playmate and it appealed to me that I didn’t have to do whatever she told me, in order to have a friend in her. I had an equal now in Bryan, and Leah soon withdrew from my life.

Another factor was age. Leah is 4 years older than me and for developing children that’s huge. We didn’t relate much. We were always in different stages, with different interests. She was into modelling and performing, I was super shy and reserved (weird right?) I liked barbies, she hated them. In fact, she liked to shave their heads and shove them under my dresser leaving the feet sticking out, so I could see them but not get them out. Leah did some cruel things and never let me forget her dislike of me. Often she would pinch me hard and not fess up when I cried, or threaten me over telling on her for anything she had done that was mean or wrong.

Honestly, I just wanted her to like me and love me. I’m not saying I never did anything mean back, or annoyed her or even provoked her. We were kids after all. And I knew we would never be best friends, but I wanted a sister. I longed for a sister I could confide in and get advice from. That never happened. I remember a time when our arguing and Leah’s cruelty had reached an all time high. Our parents were fed up and handcuffed us together in a room. They had hoped we would resolve whatever the issue was and even though I tried to talk it out, Leah wouldn’t listen. She told me that she was going to hug me and pretend like everything was good so she could get away from me. And she did, and it worked.

When I was 7 I sang a song to her that I had worked really hard on. The song was “Love Can Build a Bridge” by The Judds and I am pretty sure I cried while singing it to her. I thought that by singing, which she loved to do, we could relate to each other and try to be nice to one another. I remember Leah hugged me and said how much she loved me and liked the song. That moment stuck with me and to this day brings tears to my eyes. I let her know how badly I wanted to be close to her, I let her know of how some kids were making fun of me for being so small. I thought we could find something to relate to as she struggled with her body image as well. And briefly we did connect and it felt nice. But all that disappeared once I got sick.

My health declined rather quickly soon there after and I was in and out of doctors offices and hospitals. I began taking of a lot of my parents time and attention due to the muscle disorder and Leah needed more from them. She resented me for this. She knew it was nothing I was in control of but instead of being supportive and sympathetic she retaliated by telling me ” You’re faking” “You’re a liar” and “I hate you”. I now know that at that time Leah was dealing with he rown emotional pain and adolescent challenges. She was being bullied at school, feeling a lot of insecurities over her body, struggling to keep friends and loathing being poor. I became the target for her anger with life. Of course then I didn’t know what was taking place in her life and internalized all the mean things she would say and do. I was in physically pain, struggling with my own losses and fears and all I wanted was a loving sister. This continued into our teen years.

When I was 15 I had become even more sick. Leah had been living away from home since she was 16 (early to college then a banking career) but returned home when she lost her job after 9/11. I begrudgingly shared a room with her and tried to forget she was there, as well as the mess she left in her wake (the mess will always travel behind Leah…). It had been 3 years since spending time with Leah and she didn’t know the magnitude of what my disordered had done to my body or my life. Soon after returning home, Leah witnessed one of the scariest experiences I’ve ever had with my muscle disorder.

I got into a bath to calm the spasms that were taking over my legs. The pain was excruciating and none of the meds I had taken were working. After a bit of a soak in the bath my breathing began to grow weak. I started struggling to keep conscious and it took all the air in my lungs to cry out for help. My memory of this experiences is shadowed with intermittent consciousness, but I know my mom pulled me out of the bath and wrapped a towel around me. They brought me to the living room and laid me on the floor. I remember gasping for air but it felt like none of the oxygen was getting in. I remember opening my eyes just slightly, seeing my father over top of me, and my mom and sister at my feet. I blacked out. I stopped breathing for several minutes and my dad began rescue breaths until the paramedics showed up. I regained consciousness shortly before they arrived, but I couldn’t move. My breathing was shallow and my legs were paralyzed. This episode ended in an ambulance ride to the emergency room, blood work, medication evaluation, and an extended stay in the hospital.

Now, I wasn’t searching for sympathy but I did think that by Leah witnessing that, she would show a bit more compassion toward me and maybe believe me about my disorder. She couldn’t still think after all these years that I was faking it? Nothing changed though. Everyone in my family came by to offer their best at cheering me up but it wasn’t until a couple of days later that Leah appeared. I was happy to see her but was soon disappointed when I realized she wasn’t there for me, she was there to talk to my mom about her job and something good that had happened for her. She left without saying anything more than hello to me. I discussed with my mom how hurt I was, and she was sympathetic. I said that I thought I needed therapy because this thing with Leah hurt so badly. I don’t want to always feel like this when she comes around.

After the hospital stay I sought counseling for a number of issues and gained a lot of knowledge and perspective. After a few weeks of talking it out, I was in a better place emotionally. My counselor urged me to write a letter to Leah about my feelings towards her, specific memories that pained me, and more importantly, letting go of what I longed to have with Leah, a friendship. Leah was unsafe for me. It was the unattainable dream and only brought me pain when I would seek it. I had to let her go, in order to heal and move forward. I never gave the letter to Leah because it wasn’t actually for her. It was for me. I started over with Leah like she was someone I just met. I treated her as an acquaintance. I was cordial and never talked about anything other than surface. She was unsafe for me at that time and for my heart and well-being I had to keep her at an arm’s length. We went on for several years like this and I began to feel better in regards to Leah. I had essentially mourned the loss of a close sisterly relationship, and replaced it with something different. We still had our spats but generally, this new approach to a relationship went well. I lowered my expectations of her so I wouldn’t be let down, therefore, rarely became angry or disappointed. I know that sounds terrible, but it’s true and it’s what I had to do to be in contact with Leah.

When I was 17 a shift happened. I don’t know exactly why it did, but I do know that as things got better in Leah and our dad’s relationship, things seemed to improve within our relationship. I’m not a psychologist but I believe that as she addressed old feelings of rejection from our dad, as well as her own insecurities as a child/teen, she was able to evaluate the driving force behind the cruelty she exhibited towards me. Leah began to make changes and apologized several times. I don’t know how many times, but I think she knew she would have to say it a lot. She was determined to make sure I knew how sincere she was each time she did so too.

The more effort Leah made, the more I would open up for her. I did however remain guarded but I kept an open mind and didn’t allow any hiccups to discourage me as we rebuilt. Over time, Leah and I established a new relationship. It took a lot of effort on her part to win me over again and through the course of a couple of years (and a lot of ups and downs) we’ve arrived at a good place.

Leah,

We didn’t have a great start as being sisters. We don’t have good childhood memories together to look back on with fondness. We missed out on a lot of years together. We built walls and burned bridges.

But made ourselves a second chance and we have a lot to be proud of. We worked through difficult feelings towards each other. We learned from the mistakes we made as children, teens and young adults in regards to one another. We tore down the walls and rebuilt the bridges to make new memories. In the process of rebuilding, we formed a healthy relationship and discovered appreciation for one another. We accept each other for the unique individuals that we both are. Instead of beating each other up, we offer words of encouragement. We support one another in life and give all we can to one another without any conditions.We are who we are, and we are beautiful sisters.

If I had to choose to have you as a  loving young sister or a loving adult sister, I choose the adult sister hands down. I used to mourn not having you near when we were kids. I used to think that I missed out on this huge thing, but ya know what? You can give me a heck of a lot more support and love now, than you ever could have been capable of then. And you do Leah. I no longer look back and feel pain or sadness over our relationship, but I use it as a marker to see how far we have come.

I know our relationship is not perfect, and we’ll always have to work harder to maintain it than we do with other family members. I know we’ll always need to err on the cautious side when confronting an issue and take extra care as to not wound one another. Because although we have moved forward, we still have scars, and our relationship will always need to be nurtured.

I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of your adult life. I am blessed to be your friend and happy to see you blossoming as you move into your 30’s. You are a wonderful mom and a great wife, you are simply outstanding! Besides being awesome moms and wives, we have few things in common. In fact, we couldn’t be more opposite but I think that makes things exciting. I am proud of you for everything you have accomplished in your life, as well as all the effort you have made to mend my heart and our relationship. I love you Leah. Thank you for being the sister I always wanted. And thanks for loving me for me.

Always,

Lace

Communal Living

2 Sep

I’ll be writing a “Player” post about Leah very soon but you do need to be brought up to speed a bit so you can understand why living with my sister was such an odd choice. Leah and I grew up without a relationship. Yes, we were sisters and we lived in the same house but that was as far as it went with us. I had longed to be loved by her since as far back as I can remember, but I never got that from her. I didn’t even have mutual respect from her or a casual but good relationship like you would have with a co-worker. No, she hated me and told me it often. That’s the gist of it. We had only just started addressing issues and patching up the pain between us when she offered me a room. Maybe that’s why she did it. To give me help now, since she wasn’t present when I needed her time and time before.

Whatever her reason, I was very grateful when my sister and brother in-law opened their home to me. I honestly didn’t expect Leah to do that and she was the last person on earth I would think to willing have as a housemate. I had several other choices of places to live when it came to moving on in my life. I could have stayed at my Aunt and Uncle’s house, got a job somewhere nearby and eventually moved out on my own. I could have gone back to my parents’ house in New Mexico, or have gone back to school and lived on campus… But for some reason, and I still don’t know why, I chose to move in with my sister and her husband on Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho.

Living there was easier than I thought it was going to be. Leah and her hubby were happy to have me and it felt nice to be around family. As long as we kept the conversation light and avoided “soft spots” concerning our relationship everything was smooth. I used this living arrangement as an opportunity to get to know Leah’s husband better and he really was meant for her. He’s a man who isn’t intimidated by Leah’s strength and appreciates her abundant uniqueness. Of course, every relationship has its challenges and theirs was no exception. I learned that they were both very passionate, stubborn and always right…. Leah had met her match in wills as well it seemed. Good for her. She needed that!

Overall though I was very happy living with the both of them, excepting that we differ greatly in our habits of cleaning. (Love you Leah, but you are one messy woman…you know this. I guess strangers do now as well. Sorry bout that.) It was a great time for Leah and I to make new memories and build on our new friendship as adult sisters. I was able to be by her side when her personal life hit a rough patch (details don’t matter) and I was glad for the opportunity. She was also there to witness my budding love for L and share those sisterly giggles about boys. Those never go away no matter how old you get…they just get dirtier in context!

Leah encouraged me to take my time in figuring out the direction I wanted to go in my life. I never felt like a freeloader while living there and I did my part to clean up after myself to ensure I didn’t leave cause for her to push me out the door. I did however decide that after I got back from Italy, I would find a job and get my life started.

Rainbows

31 Aug

I sat in our family’s van crying in protest. “Please don’t make me go, please Momma. I can’t make friends again. We’ll move soon anyways, please Momma. I can’t do this.”  My mom took my hand softly, trying to calm me. “We won’t be moving honey and you have to go to school. You have to try. We don’t have any other options Lace. It’s the first day for everyone and you won’t be the only new person, that should be comforting.” Comforting? Really mom? No, not feeling that emotion now. I sat in the van trying to dry my tears, prolonging the inevitable long walk to the office where I would get my class schedule and map of the campus. I didn’t want to start over. I didn’t even know if my body could handle going to school, it couldn’t 2 years ago…

It was drizzling misty rain as I walked ever-so-slowly to the main office. I gave the woman my name and she handed me my class schedule and the map. “Welcome to Lake Stevens High School, Lacey. Please let us know if you need anything today, we’re here to help!” Ugh, she was so chipper. I thanked her without making eye contact as I stared at my classes, walking toward door.

First up, Physical Education. GYM!? No, this wasn’t right. Oh great! I should have turned and told the plump, chipper lady that I can’t take gym but I didn’t think she’d believe me. No teen wants to take P.E. and I looked totally “normal”. I didn’t want to cause a stir while the office was full of other new students and bustling staff. The last thing I wanted was to draw attention to myself. So I left the office and headed to gym class. Lucky for me it was only the course orientation and nothing was expected from me physically that day. I was removed from P.E. the following week when they found a place for me elsewhere; the attendance office with the plump chipper lady.

The first day went by fine, lonely and long but fine nonetheless. It wasn’t until a week later that a girl in my English class noticed my last name and told me it sounded really familiar to her. I don’t know why it did, I’d never seen her before in my life until I came to this class. The next day she came to English class armed with a wealth of history, history her and I shared…and a picture of the two of us in adorable Rainbow outfits (kind of like girl scouts but in miniature form). As soon as I saw this picture I fully remembered who she was to me. Our families had attended the same church when we were little girls and their family happened to be the neighbors of my grandparents’ life-long friends. We had spent countless childhood hours together. I remembered playing dolls with her, being at rainbows together, eating popsicles on her Grandma’s porch…she was my first friend. Wow, miniscule word much!?

Upon catching up with her, she invited me to join her at lunch and meet some of her friends. I was excited! I really hoped I could reconnect with my first friend and make friends with these other girls. And I did.

It wasn’t long before I was accepted as one of the girls, there were 12 of us give or take a few. We were an awesome group, self-named “The Lake Posse”. Every girl was attractive, all of us had a unique quality to contribute and held a level of popularity around the school. Even I had gained some popularity at school soon after joining the group of girls, and it felt nice to be liked.

I know what you are thinking. Something along the lines of the female characters from that movie “Mean Girls”. No, we weren’t “plastic”, we weren’t mean or overly conceited. Well maybe 1 or 2 of them, but nothing cruel. We were fun girls, some of us a little more crazy than others but we were all nice girls; accepting of all types of people. Sure we had our “mean girl” moments when a fellow friend needed some backing-up, but that’s just friendship if you ask me.

I even got my first real boyfriend that year. He was an instant crush since the first day of school and the day he became my boyfriend, I thought I had one the life lottery. Oh how I loved him! I had never felt that way about a guy before, I truly did love him. Well, as much as a 14-year-old knows about love and what it is, I felt all that.

Everyone in my life was understanding of my muscle issues. No one ever questioned the validity of my illness, although they made it quite clear that they missed me when I’d be absent from school and I should “work on that”. Haha, they were wonderful. I did my best to manage my disorder but high school was very demanding on my body. I think the key reason I passed the 9th grade was because of my awesome group of girlfriends and that special guy. Knowing I had these people to meetup with really drove me to push on and find a way to operate through the pain. And I did more often than not.

I have countless memories from my freshman year, it was my favorite year of high school. In fact, it’s one of the favorite years of my life. When I think back I don’t remember pain or other physical struggles, although they were ever-present. All I can think of is how much I loved my life in Lake Stevens. I loved the family I had nearby (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins). I loved the friendships I made. I loved the rain and the smell it would leave in the air long after it had stopped. I loved Seattle and the diversity of people the city drew in. I loved the beauty of Washington, all the nature that surrounded me was breathtaking. Sure my family struggled financially but money is irrelevant to me when love is so abundant. I didn’t care that we were living in the projects, I would have been extremely happy living in Washington for the rest of my life. Washington is home to me, it always had been and it always will be. I truly hoped we would stay there. Of course, that wasn’t the case.

My dad took a job in Meridian, Idaho two weeks before I was to start the 10th grade. I was heartbroken. My girlfriends wanted to send me off in a happy way, so they threw me a surprise going away party. The boy my heart would always belong to as well as every friend I loved showed up. Each one of them gave me a special gift that represented a memory we had shared together. They even made me a scrapbook full of all the fun memories we had shared as a group. They truly were amazing friends…how would I ever replace them? I gave them all tearful hugs, hating that this would be the last one we’d share for a while. I lingered in the embrace of the guy who was no longer my boyfriend but that I would love for years to come…and said goodbye. I didn’t know when I would be back again, but I was determined to not let these relationships disappear.

We packed up everything once again and relocated our lives back to Idaho. This time I was not welcoming or understanding of the move. I was angry and more sad than I ever had been. I left my heart in Lake Stevens with everyone I loved. I was completely set against making friends or setting up a new life. I hated it. Idaho sucked, the people were weird and seemed to all look the same, and I didn’t like the smell. It smelled like dust and occasionally cow poop when the wind would blow in the wrong direction. Did it ever rain here? Come to find out it did rain once in a while, but that only made the air smell like dirt, not dust. I longed for home.

 

Whether I wanted to or not, there I was starting the 10th grade a week late. Apparently I walked into school looking like a freak to all those around me (or at least that’s how everyone stared at me). Idaho was a bit behind on the latest trends when it came to fashion, and I was basically wearing a bright neon sign that said “New in town, make fun of me.” And they did…