Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Michele, My Belle

My Michele.  Guns 'N' Roses wrote a song about you.  Ooops -- wrong Michelle! (Thank goodness.)  Michele & I didn't do a whole lot together during high school, but when we went off to Tech together we got to be real close.  She was on the tennis team and quite dedicated, I pretty much just smoked and wore my leather jacket, trying to look "different" (sigh).  How she could stand me, I have no idea.  She was the friend who loved music, and we connected and shared that.  I was bleaching my hair and into Metallica (my love for them ends with And Justice For All, I'm a purist, just sayin'), but also The Cure (Disintegration had just come out) and Depeche Mode's Violator (I had loved them since 8th grade).  Oh my gosh, Motley Crue's Dr. Feelgood!  I made her listen to that a lot.  She didn't mind (did you?).  Michele, wow -- she liked RAP and knew all the words! Old Skool style! Public Enemy, Kool Moe Dee, Big Daddy Kane, N.W.A. to name a few.  That band with MC Serch.  I may have wanted to be metal, but she was my idol! We went to see Aerosmith together for the "Pump" tour and all I remember was Sebastian Bach (alright ladies, big sigh, those lips!) of Skid Row being a much more energetic and charismatic front man that Steven Tyler.  Not that it matters.  Eventually she transferred to VCU for the graphic arts program and I felt the loss of her company.  I knew VCU was a much better fit.  Tech ain't artsy folks.

Then, not much of anything.  I knew she got married.  I'm not sure I even knew she had kids.  She disappeared and I was out west.  I had skipped the ten year reunion in 1999 which maybe would have been my chance, but there was no way I was going to that.  Too soon.  I didn't even try to find these people, I think I was intent on leaving high school behind.  And college too.

But the 20 year reunion...I was up for that.  Michele and I finally connected.  I can't remember if it was from the Reunion website, Facebook, or what.  But she was part of this early reunion of Kel, Laura, Michele, & I in Lynchburg.  Michele was still the athlete.  I had seen pictures of her snowboarding, biking in a 100 mile race (what the?), I saw pictures of her adorable sons and knew that she had gotten divorced.  She was very independent, hip, running her own design company -- all while working full time.  Superwoman!

When it came time for the CHS 20th Reunion, I could feel myself chickening out.  Ethan & I also didn't have anything extra to get the tickets with.  We have a rather slim existence in Lynchburg & I was quite embarrassed to tell her we could not get tickets when the time came.  She fixed that by arranging for us to have free admittance.  The organizers had tix set aside for cases just like us.  I was grateful, but now I had to go!  I was anxious! Michele had told me: "You don't understand CAP, I need you to be there."  It had been so long, I guess I wasn't prepared for Michele's dedication to me.  I love this girl!

The 20th Reunion ended up being a lot of fun for Ethan & I, I won't chronicle that here in the blog but Michele looked so beautiful (actually, super hot! Admit it people!) that night & I was so happy to be there as her old friend after so many years.  Out of all the people who contacted me about my diagnosis, she took it the hardest.  I reassured her I was doing okay, but she was really scared for me.  She was the most sentimental out of our peer group from high school.  We arranged for her to come by my parents house the night before I went into the hospital.  We left Lynchburg really late and I was so worried it would be too late for her to drive from Culpeper.  When we got to Ruckersville to my folks, she was already there.  I was so happy, content, and relieved!

We had a great dinner there (sill need those recipes mom!) with Michele and with Ethan's mom, Kathy (who left to stay with a friend), and then Grandma Lois, Grandpa Warren, & Ethan took care of the girls while Michele and I talked for a few hours.  The most important thing she explained to me was about visiting the hospital.  I wasn't sure I wanted anyone to visit.  I didn't know how I'd look, I didn't want to gross anyone out...but Michele set me straight.  She told me : "People who care about you just need reassurance that you are okay.  It has nothing to do with how you look, that has nothing to do with it.  We just want to see you."  That's why I love Michele.

Her and Nicole did visit, and it was a great one.  I remember feeling Michele's calm energy while she sat beside me.  Very still, but solid.  Her and Nicole combined made it whole.

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