Thursday, July 1, 2010



I can't write about yesterday without writing about my friend, Dan.

Dan's mom was my first grade teacher.  I didn't meet Dan until high school.  He was younger than me, but we were in the same mixed group of skater-punk-DeadHead-anti-Top 40- it's- cool- to- think- different- and- be- open- minded crowd(everything in my high school was about music, what music you listened to defined you; well, in my mind anyway).  Dan was funny.  And sweet.  And charismatic.  He was friends with Brian.  And Brian dated my best friend Missy and decided that he liked me and broke up with Missy, but that was awkward.  And then she went out with Rich and it was all okay.  lol.  High School.  Was Dan in on our hallway Ramones singalongs?  I think so.  I definitely remember Dan coming to my Speedwriting class (which I abhorred, but figured would help me take notes in college) and waiting at the door, where I could see him but the nasty teacher (who I just saw at Costco a few weeks ago!) could not, until I came out.  We would wander the halls, looking for friends, getting them out of class.  We had hall passes.  Dan was with me the day I almost got cut caught cutting class to go to the bagel place.  It was the only time I had ever left school grounds in my entire high school career and three days before graduation, and Brian talked the shop teacher out of turning me in.  Brian and Dan did extra detention for me so it wouldn't go on my record (they both already had a history of  And parties.  Lots and lots of parties.  We grew up in what was a farm town (the farms have been replaced with McMansions); we partied in fields, bonfires and kegs, people entering a lit circle from the darkened edges.  We partied in houses, too, of course.  And behind barns.  This one kid built a stage behind the barn and ran power cords out of the barn and we would party in a pasture, with a band on the stage.  That's all gone now.  But it was a great way to grow up, to sow wild oats.

Somewhere along the way from college to real life, I lost track of Brian and Dan and even Melissa and Danielle and Jeff and a lot of those people.  But we all reconnected on facebook.  Some of us have met at the local bar in the town that we grew up in.  But not Dan.  Dan was diagnosed with MS in his twenties.  Some people with MS are lucky to find meds that work for them, but Dan was not so lucky.  He was in pain a lot of the time.  But he didn't complain.  There was something that worked better than other things, but after a while, insurance refused to pay for it and it was downhill.  Dan's sister, Deanna kept us all in the loop.  It wasn't a surprise to wake up yesterday morning and to find out that Dan was no longer with us.  It wasn't a surprise, and we knew it meant his suffering was over, but we still wish none of this had ever happened to him.  The hilariously funny, skinny kid who built an awesome halfpipe in his backyard and skated like the devil!

Yesterday morning, we all took turns posting things on Dan's wall, stories and memories. It was awesome to recall them, to remember Dan stories along with everyone.  I like to think that Dan was right there, no longer in pain, remembering along with us.

My neighbor homeschools and we have known each other for years, but our paths and schedules just never seem to cross.  She had come in to the library on Monday and we had made plans to meet at a park yesterday afternoon.  Just before I left, a friend of mine from third grade posted a grainy, bootleg video of The Jerry Garcia Band playing "My Sisters and Brothers".  Sunglasses on my head and purse in hand, I watched the video on facebook, crying silently and thinking how lucky I was to have grown up with these awesome people.  How lucky I was to count them as friends.  And I thought how it's only really people that knew you back then, that will ever really know what you were like back then.  You may never share that Dead Head punk rock side of yourself with the people you meet as a mom, when you want to seem competent and polished and reserved.  Or would you?

My Neighbor

This is what I knew about her: she lived around the corner and a few blocks down.  Her girls took gymnastics with my girls several years ago.  She was EXTREMELY patient with her girls.  Her daughter was reading when she was small.  She homeschooled.  And she had gone to Princeton.

I was impressed and to be honest, maybe just a little intimidated. But she has always been so very nice to us and I adore her girls, who were part of the American Girl Club that I ran at the library.

I had emailed her about homeschooling a few months ago, and she was very pleasant.  We made loose plans to get together over the summer.  Then when she came in on Monday and I told her what I had been up to, we made plans for Wednesday.

I had a great time talking to her at the park!  All of the girls got along wonderfully.  She was a wealth of information about homeschooling, but we talked about other things as well in a warm, candid, open way that I very much enjoyed.  She is smart, but easy to talk to and a lot of fun, she laughs easily and is very down to earth and open.  I felt comfortable with her: no judgement, no competition.  I felt like I could tell her things that other people might think I was crazy for saying.  We shared things about ourselves, who we were "before kids".  Talking to her, I almost felt like I was back in touch with the "Before Kids" part of myself!

As the girls and I drove home, with them in the backseat begging to be homeschooled so they can play with her girls more often, I thought how if she had gone to my high school, she may have been part of our mixed group of skater-punk-DeadHead-anti-Top 40- it's- cool- to- think- different- and- be- open- minded crowd.

I like people who do what is right for them without worrying about what everyone else is doing.

It felt right to spend the day with her yesterday and to make a new friend.