Friday, June 29, 2012

The Space Between

In the summer, in Philadelphia, it tends to get pretty hot here. Hot enough, that summer weather actually starts mid-April, and by the end of May, you either have air conditioning or the number to the local mortician on hand. So it was a nice gift Mother Nature gave us last week where the highs were only 70-something degrees with lots of cool, de-humidified winds.

Days like those remind me of early spring. Not the fairy-tale ideas of floral breezes, chirping birds, and cute little rain showers. The true spring I know happens when the sun isn't the main focus.

When I was younger, I used to catch fireflies in an old Maxwell House coffee can. The lid was plastic, with a few holes punched in it from an ice pick, and the inside metal band was still a little sharp. I had my methods. Most of which, should I need to catch any now, would be much the same as it had been. Those fading green spots dancing in and out of pink and purple skies...twilight was certainly beautiful.

Memories are a strange thing. On one hand, it's all we'll ever have after a certain point. Memories of childhood, your teenage years, adulthood and beyond, all crammed into your own personal highlight reel. Sure, you might have pictures, or maybe even video of some of these things, but, it's never quite the same as it was actually being there. Colors aren't as vivid, sounds are muttered at best, and the emotion behind it lacks spark. On the other hand, memories can act like a personal time machine, taking you back to a moment in your life that had so much behind it that you could never forget it. True, some are good, and others are bad, but, you cant really have one without the other.

And we learn from all this. We learn that roller skates need a lot of balance. That dirt tastes bad. That Jimmy down the block likes us, so we should try to wear that dress more often. Or not.

In high school, I learned that I was weird. Very tall, kinda fat, and almost the opposite from who everyone else was. I didn't like a lot of pop music. I never had a boyfriend. I didn't care if my hair and nails ever got done, and I didn't like a lot of what I saw was getting done. I was in the orchestra. I drew comic books. I spent most of my time playing video games or wistfully writing about seamless nothings. All my friends were online. Well, most of them were. Despite it all, I still managed to make a couple of friends.

Aimee was my friend since 6th grade. We fought a lot, and she had once said that I looked like the fat-faced people from Green Day's "Basketcase" video. She was cool with a lot of other things though. I think because we were both outcasts then, that we had a mutual respect for one another. To this day, she is the only one who even bothered with a sympathy card after my brother died. So, it's kind of a shame that we eventually talked less and less, and are kind of just acquaintances now.

Christi was...loud. She talked a lot, and usually about nothing important. And even though she lacked the finer graces of subtlety, she did cheer me on when it came to me putting pencil to paper, in whatever format that may be. After she moved out of my house years ago, she never bothered to get in touch with me.

Michiru and Lexie were two girls who were a few years younger than me, so the only times I saw them at school was at lunch and music practice. Lexie was insanely talented. Almost frustratingly so. Give her any instrument and she instantly knew what to do with it. Michiru (Michelle...I "Sailor Moon'ed" her name) was quite possibly the sweetest person I had ever met. She even home-made me a coffee cake for my birthday senior year, because she knew it was my favorite. But, much like the others, time withered away for them, too.

Jackie. Jackie, oh Jackie. Jackie-call-me-backie. (She legit left that on my answering machine a few times.) I could fill a book with the amount of bizarre stuff that would come out of this girl's mouth. And by bizarre, I mean, "I talked to your dead mom and she hates you" kind, not the fun, quirky kind. I have so many mixed feelings for that name. On one hand, she started off as an odd person to pass notes to, and was kind of funny when we both would get stuck out in the hall for music class. She even did my homework half of the time. On the other hand, she was sleeping with my brother who is 10 years older than me, and apparently was getting drugs for him. Oh, and the -entire- school knew this before I did. That, is not an exaggeration. Needless to say, we don't talk.

Jessi was my absolute best friend. She was the only person who laughed at my jokes, thought the same things I thought were cool, and actually thought I was cool. Which is funny, because I met her through Jackie. I remember playing Yoshi's Story with her one night and making dumb noises when Yoshi would eat the peppers. She almost peed herself when I randomly shouted "PEPPER LOOPS!"...yeah, we were talking about cereal right before that. Unlike most of everyone else, we actually kept in touch after high school. But not for long, though. She found new friends, and I had just given birth to Ivy at the time. I kind of saw it coming. It all still feels a little sour though.

My sister is in touch with all of the social media these days. I gave in many moons ago to AIM and then eventually MySpace, but aside from what you're seeing now, I don't think I'll be doing much of that in the future. On Facebook though, a lot of people I knew decided to friend her. Which is odd, because I never thought any of them knew/cared about her. Cindy explained it to me though, that they're doing it to 'keep in touch' with me. Why not pick up the phone? I wondered. Why not send an email? Why go the vaguest and least connected way possible?

I let it go. I knew better. And part of me knew why, too.

Then there's today, just about 7 years since I've seen anyone. Cindy was lurking around Facebook and texts me that Jess was thinking about 'the old crew'. And that she's 13 weeks pregnant. There's ultrasound pictures and everything.

And then I tap into my memories again. I think about the fun we had, and the stuff we shared. I think about her weird cursive writing, her cat Sniffy, and how even when we had nothing to say in all of those notes we passed, I still looked forward to them, everyday. I think about us almost crying at graduation. I think about the Hello Kitty blanket she bought Ivy. I think about the space between.

I know I cant go back to where we were then. Things come and go in life, and holding on to the ghosts of people I once knew wont help either. I can only wish her well from where I sit on my couch.

Maybe I can make better memories in the future.
But for now, though, I still have my fireflies.

Until then.

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