Friday, March 31, 2006

59/365 Deborah

She was too light skinned, she thought. She wanted to be as black as her husband, black as her kids, even blacker—black as an African. She felt totally cheated by this dilution and how it had managed to manifest itself on her person.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

58/365 Another Lee

By age 11, Lee was an adult, dropping names like Marshall Tito and Chairman Mao in casual conversation. He wrote riveting stories à la Star Trek, starring himself and close personal friends. Adventures on those pages left us all breathless for our next installment.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

57/365 Tim

The bad boy I had to like, the Jordan Catalano to my Angela Chase. Sat behind me in biology when he showed up. Got me to not show up. Moved away. His friend said she’d heard he died. It hurt how pretty she was.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

56/365 Barbara

She was the first person to ask me if I was a Christian. I was confused, then embarrassed. Did she say Christian or Catholic? What was the difference? I said we went to church. Neither of us was 10 yet, but she was saved.

Monday, March 27, 2006

55/365 Jacki

closes her eyes. We put a single M&M into her mouth. Yellow, she says. Another: Blue. Red, brown, orange. She’s seldom wrong. I try to imagine putting just one in my mouth, the sheer determination of it. Jacki is gorgeous, athletic, successful. Now this.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

54/365 Another Chris

You know the cover of Sailin’ Shoes, that Little Feat album? The pink-iced chocolate cake with legs, slice gone between them, on a swing? Chris’s perfect papier-mâché duplicate was removed from the school’s art show. Censors. Equally dangerous was his smile flashed your direction.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

53/365 Ernesta

I was the new kid, and she glommed onto me, welcoming me wholeheartedly. It was months before she told me about the baby she’d had the year before and given up. No one else mentioned it. But almost no one else talked to me.

Friday, March 24, 2006

52/365 Another Barry

You loved him or hated him. He taught advanced grammar and comp classes, the stuff of myth and weltanschauung. He said in 5 years some of us would be married with children. He was right. When we acted up, he’d yell, People! Play school!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

51/365 Cheryl

It took Cheryl at least an hour to get ready for anything: blow dryer, curling iron, makeup. (I washed my hair and was good to go.) We spent many hours bonding during her beauty ritual, the mirror just another character in our teenage reflections.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

50/365 Another Jeff

Our banter spiraled to such staggering philosophical and humorous heights that of course we offered the waiter we met on our annual Adirondack lodge trip our pullout sofa as he searched for a job in DC. He failed to mention that pesky painkiller addiction.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

49/365 Amy

Now that she’s almost divorced, she seems happier, lighter. Perhaps she’s no longer—as she once accused her brother, who was slowly eating his M&Ms one by one in the backseat just to torture her on that long vacation drive—saving it on purpose.

Monday, March 20, 2006

48/365 Melanie

She was that kind of cute everyone wanted to be near, a squeezable, Teddy-bear, yet beautiful cute. When we were briefly best friends in fifth grade, I felt practically knighted by royalty. Ten years later, running into her and Alice, I recognized only Alice.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

47/365 Connie

Having a high-profile church job meant being quietly careful in public. So when we finally had a night out in a town far enough away, I felt honored that she ordered wine with me. With that shared meal, we participated in a surreptitious sacrament.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

46/365 Jeff

Jeff, who was not a volunteer, lived in the other house apartment with his own phone. He got invited over. We’d spend evenings in the kitchen blaring Prince and talking trash. I can still hear his standard parting admonishment, with slight tremolo: Be good!

Friday, March 17, 2006

45/365 Bruno

Bruno lived in one of the house’s adjoining apartments, the one without a phone. We tried not to be annoyed when he invaded our space to make a call. The night he arrived through the attic trapdoor stairs, like Herman Munster, we’d had enough.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

44/365 Mike

I should remember leather, but it was mostly t-shirt weather. I spent hours on the back of his bike in a still, meditative state, the world racing past. That summer, in a blur of windy warmth, we helped each other get to know ourselves.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

43/365 Evie

was the volunteer service mom. Every weekday morning, Evie’s car stopped in front of the volunteer house. We’d pile in: two, three, sometimes four of us. When I arrived, she’d just bought a brand-new Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. It was the very lap of luxury.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

42/365 Debbie

Another all-too-brief housemate, she was my almost-shortest friend with an adventurous spirit I looked up to. When Debbie’s long-distance boyfriend showed up, Janet and I took a downtown hike. We ended up at the convention center watching a women bodybuilders’ competition. And our watches.

Monday, March 13, 2006

41/365 Brian

Housemate Brian, a six-foot-something redhead, could make anyone laugh. He arrived just as I was leaving, and we were only a few weeks under the same roof. He married a hottie divorced pastor ten years his senior, the one who performed Kim’s first wedding.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

40/365 Liz

Housemate Liz was the instrument of my conversion. Phys-ed abused, I resisted organized activity, but this aerobics instructor successfully persuaded me. Finding exercise during those few celibate months assured the initial addiction. Now it’s a part of me. Liz may have saved my life.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

39/365 Janet

Housemate Janet grew up in the orchards of Wenatchee. Care packages contained Red Delicious the size of a human head. She was self-sufficient, strong, and funny. We could make each other laugh. But we both held too much back to know each other well.

Friday, March 10, 2006

38/365 Dave

Over beers, he and another son-of-a-pastor establish the Brethren Alternative Society to Alleviate Rather Dumb Standards (BASTARDs). They plan booth space at Annual Conference, so folks can point: “Look at those BASTARDs drinking/having premarital sex/being gay.” Now that BASTARD’s a pastor himself.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

37/365 Jim

We got to Jim’s house and he was “practicing,” which to him meant spinning a Chick Corea record and playing along, note for note. How could I see a kid in the hall every day and have no clue of a talent this big?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

36/365 Paul

When I was a poor volunteer, Paul kept me in nightlife at the O’Gay Corral, under the highway’s Marlboro man. In his last letter (1988ish?) he admitted responding to the AIDS epidemic with lots of anonymous sex. I recently heard that he’s still alive.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

35/365 Chaz

At 20, it seemed Chaz was a guy who wouldn’t soon find love. I’d always envisioned him with a much younger woman, maybe because I understood that role. Sho ’nuff, as a professor, he fell blissfully in love with a student, and married her.

Monday, March 06, 2006

34/365 smithorndorff

What fun it was, after having my ego shredded so many times in team sports and strength trials, to be in the midst of mandatory physical fitness tests and watch their jaws drop as they discovered that the fat kid could sprint. The fastest.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

33/365 Ned

Ned was among the most steadfast and loyal of her admirers, and a good friend besides. One night, he and another “borrowed a knocked-down road sign” to place in her yard. The whole family awoke to SOFT SHOULDERS. ’Twas a love never quite requited.

32/365 Another Lisa

A college senior when I was a freshman, I was honored that she bestowed attention on me at all. She had a lightning wit and a car, and allowed me entrance into the sacred Hog Patrol. Its motto: I am never full—merely uncomfortable.

Friday, March 03, 2006

31/365 Kendrick

The night I saw Kendrick dance at Cobi’s Place, everything else fell away, and there was only the movement in the moment. If I could do one thing, anything, as well as he can tap, I’d be alive enough to die happy. I think.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

30/365 Kathleen

Why doesn’t turning 44 feel different from turning 8 or 20 or 33? Is it because she never had children? Because she is still in love with the man she turned 21 with? Because from the moment she was born, she was already herself?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

29/365 Mary

My mother’s friend Mary, being the type who volunteers at birth-control clinics, is not the type to tell. Still, the night we both showed up, I dodged her, dashing nearly naked across halls until my best friend used her own exam as a diversion.