Monday, April 16, 2007

Poor Bereft Me

In October of 1996 I had been on a mission for 2 months. A new set of missionaries arrived, and my group suddenly wasn't the youngest anymore. And we loved the group of girls who removed us from that lowly state by taking it over.

There was one girl in the class that I liked pretty immediately. I don't even remember our first encounter(s) but I remember always thinking she was pretty cool.

Then one day she said to me, "I think you were in my freshman Spanish class in college." And it turned out, I was. I stand out in crowds. I make people stop and notice. My Spanish-speaking skills are superb.

We became fast friends and we spent the duration of our missions together with a lot of highs and lows. A lot. And then we went our separate ways. She married soon after the mission and I showed up to her very classy and nice reception dinner, late, carrying a laundry basket with a mop and broom sticking out of it, surrounded by several other cleaning supplies. It was incredibly tacky, but she still smiled and greeted me, and we stayed friends. :)

She started the whole married and children thing long before me, but we kept in touch over the years. She was full of spit and vinegar and had a way of saying things as they were, in a way I was always envious. Spit and vinegar isn't bad, right? I mean, I think Avee's full of it and I'm her mother.

So, a year and a half ago when J found out he was getting the job here in Texas, I emailed and then called my friend to see just how far she was from the "Dallas Area". I knew that they had not so long ago bought a house in Tyler, and I was just hopeful that Tyler was within a couple of hours of where we were going to move.

Talk about joy of all joys when I learned that because of a sudden job change, THEY had moved to this town, just a few months before. And they were living in an apartment, something we had planned to do while J was in this stage of his career, traveling all the time.

J was flying to Texas the next day or so to look for housing and I told him he had to check out at least 5-7 apartments before looking at the one Amy lived in because I knew I couldn't be unbiased enough to not want to live there, no matter the cost or convenience. He did just that, and was immediately most impressed with where Amy lived. So we moved in. Our doors are a football field length from each other. When J described it to me over the phone, I expressed dissatisfaction that it wasn't next door, with a suite-like door between our homes, so we could live more communally. Or something. I remember actually being disappointed it wasn't closer. I'm really good at finding even the greatest of circumstances disappointing.

Well, we've lived near each other since the first of January, 2006. It has been heaven. I have dumped my kids on her at times because I'm afraid I might hurt them. I've gone over to her house at dinner time and sat at the table and watched them eat, just for the company, and they've never made me feel like an intruder. Even though I was. I've spent countless hours on their gigantic bean bag (I'm sure it has a better name than that, I just don't know...) saying over and over without meaning it "Well, I really should go now."
I've borrowed eggs, flour, nutmeg, 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, dozens of cups of milk, butter, salsa, salad dressing, freshly made chocolate chip cookies, water, and at least a dozen other random things. The best part was I could send Bo over, sometimes just in his skivvies and I wouldn't have to leave my very important task of burning or completely screwing up dinner.

She would come over and hang out with me for an hour or two in the morning and give my life some semblance of sanity with adult conversation. She never once made me feel like the slob I am with laundry strewn all across my living room, a weeks worth of dishes on the table and kitchen counters, and magic marker masterpieces on my carpet.

She's taught me the therapeutic powers of late-night Target runs or getting away just for some frozen custard or Chili's dessert.

She's calmed my parenting concerns with having "been there and done that" with two very active boys.

I don't have to put on airs with her. Ever. She can see me in the completely disgusting state I often let myself get into with no husband to answer to during the week, and I never feel self-conscious. Don't get me wrong, Amy's not all fluffy and sweet like I may be making her look, but she isn't critical or judgmental. She'll be the first to compliment my snot-stained shirt or nappy hair. But some things just can't be ignored. I understand that.

Oh, and since I'm being honest---another really annoying thing about her is she doesn't gossip. Try as I may to get her to, she won't. It's really annoying. Trust me.

Avee adores her. Bo does too, but in a different, boy kind of way. Avee thinks she's her mom. The first year we were here, Avee basically preferred Amy to me. I was usually okay with it because then it was Amy's knees she was clinging to while Amy prepared dinner. I had no problem sitting on the gigantic bean bag watching it all.

Well, Amy bought a house. A friggin beautiful, completely enviable, with a backyard and bonus room---house. You may or may not recall a post I did last July on feeling jealous. I'm not easily prone to it, but Amy was the subject of my feeling it then, and it's happened again. In combination with feeling very happy for the house they scored, I'm immensely jealous. It's the kind of house I could live in for the rest of my life.

But I wasn't invited.

Most of the details of buying and negotiating and closing and all the stuff that goes with buying a house, happened as I was preparing for our trip to the Carolinas and then while were gone. It made it less threatening that I had something else going on to focus on.

Then Thursday they closed.
And Friday they moved.
And this morning when I woke up, I realized that there was no chance of her two little guys knocking on my door in pajamas to borrow some eggs. Or cheese. Or each holding the ends of a cookie sheet so that they could BOTH return it to me. Or knocking on my door to return Avee in her pajamas. She's always trying to bust out of here.

And today when I woke up from my Sunday nap, I felt so sad for the loss of that proximity. I actually thought I'd escape feeling sad. She's only moved a mile away. But that's a mile I can't send Bo in his underwear, and a mile that Avee, even on her best day, can't navigate safely.

I'm glad for the year and 3 and a half months I had. It really was heaven, and a huge blessing with this "single-parenting" stage of my life. And, on the upside, now when I go to Walmart on Sunday for an ice cream fix I didn't prepare for, I don't have to duck and run to the car in fear of her children seeing me and asking why I go to the store on Sunday but they don't.

But even if they ever did see me, I'm sure Amy would just tell them I like the heat. And I want to burn in hell.