I met Leah in 7th grade at Buford Middle School. She sat next to me in Mrs. Evans "Language Arts" class. I don't exactly remember how it came up (except for the fact that it was ALL 12 year old girls talked about), but we shared a love for Duran Duran. Music, buttons, posters...it was a competition. Who had what D2 merchandise no one had ever seen before? Who had stuff no one else could get? I remember thinking Leah had won because she went to freakin' Ireland and scored some stuff. But she brought some back for me as well, which I treasured with all my heart and still have in my parents attic.
Her mom is Irish and I was so fascinated by her accent. I thought Leah was so lucky to have a connection to a foreign country. Her dad was part of the JAG School at UVA and I had no experience around anyone from the military (in other words, he scared me). I guess we had a typical middle school friendship, talking too much in class, disagreements where you'd hang up on each other (what could these fights have been about? I have no idea), sleepovers and movies. The strongest memory, besides her laugh, was the day in 8th grade homeroom when she said: "Well, Celeste isn't the only one moving this summer." I cried. I think some kids stared at me and Leah probably told me to stop crying. Her and Celeste disappeared and I went off to Charlottesville High School a very shy, buck-toothed girl (braces in 9th grade, thank God). Luckily I was in the band, so I wasn't completely isolated!
We wrote to each other through high school and some of college. Her life was way more fun than mine. I actually told her recently I still have her letters & threatened to show them to her teenage daughter (heh heh). At some point, we lost touch. Who knows exactly how that happens, it may have been when she was in the Air Force, in Germany, probably. She appeared in Charlottesville in the late 90s , divorced and with a sweet curly blonde named Deirdre, who was 4. I was working at Barnes & Noble, living with Ethan, unmarried, no kids. It was a strange visit -- she was about to move near Boston (hotel management?). She was a mom, and I couldn't relate. I didn't think I even liked kids, Deirdre watched Barney on our tv, which I could barely stomach. Recently Leah said she was in a bad place during that visit, and we talked about how weird it was. Different places, different people.
AHH, but the miracle of Facebook! And then to find Leah in Crozet, VA of all places when we moved back east in 2007. The funny thing is, I always said we'd get together, but we never did, just did the Facebook comment thing. How lame! I found all sorts of old friends and then never really even tried to see them. I just always have had this complex (since a 5th grade drama) about whether or not people really liked me. Mark Cornick, of all people (some of you know him) was the one who told me I needed to let it go, and I pretty much took his advice.
So, when this whole tumor thing happened, Leah was right there. I was so comforted by her, and I wanted to hear what her story was, after all these years. She was with me the morning of the embolization, holding my hand during a seizure at Hotcakes. She told me she had ordered me a plush brain for me to play with in the hospital (ewww, but it's actually kind of adorable). She waited through the NICU nurses shift change (nearly an hour of the leaving nurses updating the arriving nurses) and saw me, bringing a bunch of gauze for a "turban party". We never got to that, damn it -- but I had mine on! She brought me an Irish Claddagh, which I've always wanted. She came with her teenage daughter Deirdre a few times, who is such a bright spirit and has Leah's humor. They were crackin' me up and it really helped my spirits, so much. To be apart for so long, and to have someone just show up to take care of you and to make sure you are okay, that's what I've been experiencing through all of this. I love you Leah!
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Your memory is amazing..and mine is almost non-existent..so this was fun for me to read.ReplyDelete
I have no recall of us meeting. I DO have memories of:
+thinking how cool you were with the whole DD thing.
+calling you to get the words to DD songs. It was the only reason I could think of to call you.
+coveting the jazz shoes you had.
I have no memory of telling you I was leaving. But hearing it from your point of view...with Celeste and I both bailing on you...HOW HORRIBLE.
And (just for the record) I had (& still have) a passionate DISDAIN for the damn purple monster...but it was something that was familiar to her in a new environment and she freakin' LOVED the thing. uggh. I think she was only 2 or 3 at the time, not quite 4...so anything to keep her happy was fine with me. One of many failures I've had to face as a parent!! lol
I'm sooo glad we reconnected. It was like we didn't have decades between us! Amazing stuff really. All it took was a brain tumor to get together. Next time, just pick up the phone. I'm the drama queen between the two of us...so leave that to me!!
I love you heaps and bounds CAP.
I'll always be there for you.
This is making me cry, this is. What could be more endearing than two tweens bonding over Duran? I'm right there with ya, ladies. And the jazz shoes. Oh god I love it. What a special gift, the Claddagh--love, loyalty, and friendship. That says it all. The Irish are the best, aren't they?ReplyDelete