Last night we went to a surprise party. A successful surprise party. As in, “What are you doing here, Sarah?” As in, I’ve never been part of any group yelling “Surprise!” so loud and so enthusiastically.
Because my friend Melissa is incomparable, outrageous, unlike anyone else. She is the most copied person I know; I’ve seen girls change their entire style after meeting her only once. She is an inspiration. When I was applying to colleges, St. John’s (a fancy, hippie-dippie private school in Santa Fe) wanted me to write an essay on someone who’d inspired me. I wrote it about Melissa. I got in, thanks to Melissa, who never went to college because she was too busy defying people’s expectations and raising 3.5 kids better than any young mother I’ve known. And did I mention that she can dead-lift over twice her body weight? Bad. Ass.
So of course every single person from her gym would show up. Of course her friends would drive down from Salt Lake. Of course. And it was one of the best parties I’ve been to in a long time, everyone friendly and wild and kind. Everyone happy to be celebrating Melissa, because that’s what she deserves.
I’m not even sure if she knows how strongly I feel about her, because we don’t really talk like that. We’re very different, always have been–she was a bright red, dyed-hair, driving to Salt Lake, going to shows and drinking punk-ish type of teen, and I was an orchestra geek who smoked pot and listened to Pink Floyd and Modeste Mousorgsky with a series of steady high school boyfriends. But we’ve always just…gotten along. Enjoyed each others’ company. Understood each other, and hung out. You know, what friends are for.
Anyways, this is a vignette I wrote about her when I was 17 or so. It got published in our high school’s annual literary magazine, The Literary Harvest. I don’t know that she’s ever read it.
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We are green and purple together. The numbers 5 and 8, respectively, and we are brilliant. We’re freaks, or middle children. We come from tribes and synagogues, and the goddamned, blessed tabernacle. The holy trinity, and we have crazy mothers, angry families. We flee. Kidnapped, but mostly runaways. We slur our words together on sharp points. We are alcoholics, druggies, sluts. Whatever you see, right? We are what you make of us, because we’ve already done it, now we’re just waiting to be recognized. We are so much and so little. Always leaning, leaning for that strong shoulder, that masculinity. Silently, carefully, leaning for each other. Even when we don’t talk for months, when we live in different states. We have a mutual agreement that it’s better not to lift the bandage , lest salt should get into the wound.
We are old. Never were we children, just younger adults. And we have babies now, and jobs, and a mortgage. We have lessons, and no time, and futures that go in and out of focus. They always wondered about the two of us. I didn’t realize that we looked so different, because we were really the same. When you get right down to it. Even our friends, they ask, they doubt. People on the street, they accept it, being doubly blind. Not best friends, or lovers, or even sisters. Just us, that’s all. Two of one, a sort of union, separated by six months exactly.
Because we have that wire. That thin, humming line that stretches between you and I, so that no matter how far you go screaming out into space, I can always tug, and float you back in. I can finger it when I’m nervous, and remember that you’re always on the receiving end, should I need that.
And if they call us bitches, so what? Because you have that voice, and I this laugh, and we some massive, radiant energy. They always remember. Those two girls, right? And how old were they? And what were they doing? They don’t forget us, because we never forgot ourselves. Simple, really. Just one plus one. Five and eight. Green, and purple.
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Together. Happy birthday, Melissa.