Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Nicole (we did it like this, we did it like that)

Class of '89 just keeps on rockin' the hospital.  I had not been in touch with either of these gals (Michele came too, but she'll get her own entry because this one turned out so long) while I was in Montana.  Maybe Nicole once because I knew she was an avid scuba diver.  Again, I have to give props to Facebook.  I'll never knock it or complain about it again.  (If all your hundreds of friends vanished, would you even know where they actually live? Have you written down phone numbers or addresses? Do you even know the names of their kids or do you skip all that?)

It's funny how friends can be part of the same "peer" group in high school, but each is completely individual and the things you end up doing with one may be *quite* different than what you do with another.  Nicole was this for me.  I believe she was the first to tap into what tiny spark of rebellion was brewing in my awkward little soul.  I'll also say, peer groups are very malleable, people can come and go, and at this point I believe "our gang" had morphed into three couples.  It made perfect sense Nicole & I would band together.  Nicole was cool.  She went to college parties (for God's sake) up at UVA.  I thought only guys did that in high school.  She had a Pee-Wee Herman doll that talked and knew all the words to The Beastie Boys "Licensed to Ill".  What girl is this brilliant (besides Lex of course)? 

We even wrote a rap/rhyme for Mr. Strong, the English teach, who inspired me to write and who I still think about. **(Last I heard he was teaching in a local womens prison and had even come across some old students there.  Sorry to drift but on one of our family's visits back to VA we ended up sitting next to him outside at The Mudhouse.  I said "Mr. Strong!" He looked at me for a bit, and I had to say "It's Pitts!"  We had a good talk and it turns out his best friend lives in Missoula, MT.  I loved him, he taught me to love poetry and to try writing it.  He was a bit of a live wire though, & didn't make it through my senior year, which was unfortunate because he was the only reason I was even going to school, hence, let the skipping begin!)

One fateful night in Littlejohns Deli, Nicole lit up a cigarette and gave me some tips.  We were using a sodapop top as an ashtray & I'm positive I must have looked like a dork.  I didn't become a smoker until much later, so I don't blame Nicole at all.  It was a choice I made consciously.  BUT, the funny part is, remember how we used to listen to the radio? A day or so later my mom was driving me to school and they were doing the birthday announcements (probably on 3WV).  "Happy Birthday to Cathy Pitts! From the one who taught you how to smoke!" I think I laughed out loud out of shock.  My mom did not laugh.  At all.  Oh man, Nicole!

We may have caused some mischief around town, I was beginning to realize I liked leaving my shy self behind.  The most notorious activity (except for one I better not mention too specifically, having to do with a pumpkin, doughnuts, and Vaseline) I engaged in was hanging out of the sunroof of Nicole's sweet blue Honda Prelude holding a dozen eggs in my hand, firing them off like a machine gunner at our friends Chad & John, going down Emmet St past where JPJ is now.  One of them was trying to roll up his window & I think my last egg barely made it through -- Victory! Granted, this did have some repercussions later that night involving my parents house (eggs & toilet paper, anyone?), which I got mad about because -- it's my parents, get revenge on me! I guess we called it even & I have another story of "reconciliation" 20 years later in my hospital room about that.  Too funny.

When we met up so many years later, I was happy to know her again, she had married, had a daughter, and was very successful.  She really thought I should go back to school, and a few times was like, "Pitts, you back in school yet, what are you doing about that? I've always felt like she was one of my biggest fans.

Of course she was right there when I started to let people know about my tumor.  Checking in and then setting up a visit since she would be driving from northern VA.  (She still checks in every other day.)  Nicole showed up with a wonderful bag of goodies.  Michele was with her (entry forthcoming!).  After she left I opened up a bright red box with a white bow & it was a wine colored scarf with magical hot air balloons on it from Talbot's.  My goodness.  Of course I cried.  She later told me it had reminded her of UP, which I had watched the day after my diagnosis with my family and bawled at its emotion and beauty.  (Bad idea, should have waited until after my surgery for that movie! So weepy I was!)

I can't remember that much of the visit unfortunately, I don't know if I had just gotten a Dilantin injection, or if I was just beat.  Their company did make a difference and I was comforted by the fact they had made the trip into town.  I do remember they teased me about the guy, Dave, doing vitals.  "Of course Cathy would get the guy with the tattoos! Big surprise!"  He was cute, like a young Michael Madsen, but I definitely must have been out of it because I always ask people about their tattoos, the artist who did them, and I missed asking him.  I also remember Nicole's story of scuba diving in the Galapagos.  Hanging on to a huge mass of barnacles, peeking over a little ridge, watching as hundreds of hammerhead sharks appeared out of the darkness.  Nicole's cool like that -- and I love her for it! She has been so dedicated to whatever she's taken on, beginning with paying for college herself, working her way up, scuba diving around the globe, and now being a mother.  She's done things in her life I could only imagine.

Even though Nicole & Michele visited together, I don't want this to be too long for any readers, so I'll give Michele her own entry too.

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