I have this weird thing about hanging on to people. I hate to let them go out of my life. Even the ones that I have consciously made a decision to let go (OK, ex-boyfriends, really)—I still find myself wondering about them. Where are they? Did they get married? Did they marry well? Do they still love me, a little, deep down? Are they successful?
I feel sadness about the people who used to be in my life but are no longer. Even just passing acquaintances, co-workers, old visiting teachers whose names I can’t remember. I have the world’s biggest Christmas card list because I can’t stand to let go of people.
Why? Why? Is it a shallow attempt at fame? Trying to prove that I have made a splash on the world, that people would miss me if I were gone? Don’t know, don’t know.
Part of all this is that I often re-live scenes from the past. Moments of triumph, sometimes, but often it is the really embarrassing things that haunt me. And just plain old tiny moments that seem fraught with nostalgia now. Walking to class at BYU, for example (it seems like I have the most in number and the most vibrant memories of my college life—why is that?). But all of this reminiscing has led me to sugar-coat some things in retrospect, I’m sure. Like my friendship with B.
B was a junior high and then high school friend. I don’t know what brought us together other than we had the same English class from 7th to 12th grades. By 12th grade, though, we had moved on, found other groups of friends. But in junior high, especially, we were both loners, I guess, and we clung to each other. We shared the same sense of humor. I spent more time picking out the right Christmas gift and card for her than for everyone else put together, because it was so IMPORTANT that I make her laugh. I’ve been thinking about her today because I’ve never forgotten one Christmas card she gave me that said: “Wee fish ewe a mare egrets moose panda hippo gnu year.” We did a project together about advertising. I remember trying to get our pink milky liquid to coat the inside of a beaker which represented a stomach, trying to imitate the animation in the pepto-bismol commercial (“coats, soothes, relieves”).
It’s weird to think of how much time I spent with her and how little I ever really knew her. For example, I’m still not sure if she was LDS or not. Seems a pretty bizarre thing not to know about someone considering we both grew up in Salt Lake. I can’t remember though—was she in seminary with me?
Anyway, I still send her a Christmas card. But I have no idea how she is. I’m sad about that. Wherever you are, B, thanks for putting up with me. I hope your life is good. (I suppose there is the tiniest chance you are reading this, since I put my blog address on my Christmas letters last year. If you are, I'm sorry I never really knew you. I regret that.)
P.S. I have a fantastic recording of New York Voices singing their own arrangement of the Paul Simon tune “Old Friends.” I highly recommend it. I love vocal jazz. When I discovered vocal jazz, it was really like running into an old friend. It was like I had always known and loved it without knowing it existed yet.