Lost & Found: Friends
A few months ago, I was forced to go through some old boxes that had been abandoned at my mom’s house for too many years. I hate going through old boxes of stuff because then you have to do something with it, or throw it away. Both of those options present a hideous dilemma because a) my house is small and b) ever since reading that chapter in The World Without Us about how plastics will be on the earth until something evolves to digest them… I can’t bring myself to casually add to the collective trash heap. If you live in a small house like I do, I’m sure you feel my pain. And yes, I’m fairly certain it was “instincts” like these that motivated the 80-yr-old hoarder I bought my house from to return, even after closing, to pick through the dumpster in the driveway as we remodeled. To retrieve her stuff and keep it in one of her *three* storage units.
But this particular tour of memorabilia was surprisingly rewarding. I came across small collections of papers and cards leftover from once-important friendships–women I’d lost touch with in the dark ages of letter-writing and land lines. I’ve never been one to have 12 best friends, but rather just a few who inspire and feel specially connected. So, like any modern woman in pursuit of past friendships might do, I Googled them. This is what I found:
Kiki Laier was my best friend at The University of the Pacific, 1986-87. I was a Piano major and she a graphic designer. This was the time of pre-digital design, which meant everything was done by hand: Lettraset rub-down type, drawing, pasted images, etc. Kiki taught me to do many of these things and I was totally fascinated. I loved to sit at the drafting table in her tiny dorm room, covered floor-to-ceiling with posters and cards, and make my own things; for example, fake backstage passes for bands who played at the university. A particularly resplendent example was made for The Pretenders/Alarm and it worked like a charm. (Ah, the days before bar codes and holograms!) I wish I could post a picture of that pass, but if I recall, it was lost when I tried to use it again to see The Alarm at UNM in Albuquerque later that summer. So confident was I that I bragged to one of the roadies about getting in for free with my magnificent pass, and he promptly confiscated it. Hmf.
Kiki showed me San Francisco, took me home to Santa Rosa to meet her family, and was my constant companion that year. We remained friends on and off for the next 12 years. She married fairly soon after college and, after 6 long years of trial and error, became pregnant and had a daughter in 1998. Same as me. She was so thrilled to be a mom. She became very involved with her new baby in California, and I with my own life in New Mexico, and eventually phone numbers & addresses changed and we lost touch.
I’d tried searching online for Kiki many times but never found anything. Finally, a few months ago, I did find something — her obituary. She died last Christmas morning after a 5-yr battle with breast and bone cancer. I wish we (she) had had more time.
The second girl I came across in this box was also from my college days at UOP. Our senior year, Karen Carissimo and I were friends and classmates in both Drawing and Adv. Poetry. I enjoyed her company and loved her writing. She was bird-tiny and funny and insightful. I found this poem of hers and remembered it well. In fact, I’d carried around the visual impression of those deer for 18 years!
What I’ve learned about Karen: she’s now a professional writer and poet living in the Bay Area, just as beautiful as she was in 1988. We’re Facebook friends, enjoying getting to know the lived-in, 40s versions of ourselves. Karen is working on a book, and if you’d like to keep up with when Iris Press will be publishing it, you can join 2873 other people on her Facebook page and get updates.
And here’s the third girl. A 22-year old from New Mexico, 5’10” and 118 pounds, hoping to do some part-time modeling to help pay for art school. She was pretty naive and had no idea that not only was she not cut out to be a model (for many reasons), but really, she was just a white little egg who thought she knew something. As it happened, life was just then hovering over her, brooding and warming up for the great cracking apart: welcome to the world, nuisance of life and death, your shiny and imperfect moment.