|This bride stole my baby|
To be honest, I don't really have friends from high school.
|Me on the left, Aunt Marla on the right|
And back in those days, I hung around with a questionable crowd. And I mean very questionable. I'm not saying that they're bad people, or they were bad people, I'm just saying that now, with the gift of hindsight, I would have been a pretty nervous parent if my fifteen year old was hanging out with thirty year old college dropouts at Rocky Horror Picture Show rehearsal.
When I was a teenager, my friends ranged in age from my younger sister's grade to pushing forty. It wasn't that they were creepy older men (well, some of them were), it was that we had similar interests. We had engaging conversations about philosophy. sociology, law, art... we liked the same music and went to the same parties. The friends I had nearest in age were either high school and college dropouts, or recent grads from different high schools in town. I only ever met half a dozen of their parents, and they took turns being homeless and living in the attic of my parents' garage.
And so, I don't have that sort of nuclear group, that big group of friends who are all growing up together, getting married together, having kids together.
|Aunt Marla getting married|
My friends scattered to the winds, and really, I'm happy for all of them.
But I never see them. Uncle Brony moved to the southwest for flight school, and now lives in San Francisco where I think he's becoming a yoga instructor. Aunt Marla stayed in our old town, but she works nights as an end-of-life nurse, and the schedules never really link up. The person I get to see most is Aunt Lego, who was the first friend I ever really watched become a mother, raise kids, maintain her sense of self and her identity. She showed me that it could be done. And part of that is the insane busy schedule that means that really, no matter how often I make it to Ann Arbor (and it's not often), we probably won't meet up.
Last weekend, we went to Aunt Marla's wedding. We were in Ann Arbor for about eight hours. They were glorious.
|Me, center right, with Uncle Brony before |
Prom. Yes, that's Aunt Genocide at the
The only prom I ever went to, Uncle Brony was my date.
I'm so happy for Aunt Marla, who I've known for fourteen years, who I've watched freshly tattoo-ed and drunk, passed out in my hallway closet. She had a wedding utterly full of joy and laughter. It was wonderful- the bride and groom had the world's shortest ceremony (in an increasingly heavy rain), kissed four or five times, and then high-fived before traipsing down the aisle to the reception.
But no matter how long it's been since I've seen my friends, my real friends, the people who I always think of and remember and miss when I think of the people who know and love me...
No matter how long it is, nothing has changed. They are still the same people who made me feel that I belonged, who accepted me as I am from the first word, who loved me regardless of whatever stupid crap was going on in our lives.
And that kind of love isn't reserved for one person. They love me, and by extension they love M, and they love my children.
|Uncle Brony with the kids|
It was amazing to watch Uncle Brony and the kids bonding- right now he's probably their favorite person in the world. To see his eyes fill with tears of love and joy when they jumped on him, hugged him, demanded to be carried to the dance floor and then to dance with him endlessly into the night...
He loves my kids, and they love him.
It was amazing to see Aunt Marla, who on her wedding day threw whatever plans she might have had out the window to dance with my children. Seriously- halfway through the first dance, she and her new husband broke apart so that she could welcome my kids, children she hadn't seen in three years onto the floor and dance with them just as her invitation described, awkwardly and enthusiastically.
Aunt Marla, on her wedding day, picked up my baby and waltzed off with her. She befriended that baby so fast and so fiercely that by the time I had to pry her out of the exhausted and joy-drunk bride's arms, she was reaching back to give her he sweetest little baby kisses you ever saw.
|I'm playing Magenta here. I also played Janet, Frank,|
and Trixie (the usherette/lips).
There was never that tight a group of us to begin with.
There were so many groups that simply overlapped. Uncle Brony was in Rocky, but he was also a friend from middle school, from the neighborhood. Aunt Lego wasn't in Rocky, but she went to high school with most of the Rocky techies, she and I took classes together at community college, her step-sister and I went to high school together. There were a dozen different circles, mixing together like some weird three dimensional Venn diagram.
There is no group, growing up together. It's just not how we did things.
|M's awesome friends, together at our wedding|
They do pretty much what you're expected to do when you grow up. College, grad school, law school, med school, marriage and then a kid or two, deployments to the middle east and the occasional getaway to the Dells or the Caribbean to relax and enjoy the stability of being 30 and following life's guidelines.
From what I can tell by voraciously stalking them on facebook and seeing most of them every Christmas and at least once a summer, they're all very happy.
And they're very happy, for the most part.
|That's me delivering a speech at Aunt Lego's wedding|
When I was at Aunt Lego's wedding, I saw a lot of old friends from those days. But not all of them, not nearly all. And I only saw a few at Aunt Marla's wedding. And if Uncle Brony ever gets married, it will be yet another cross-section.
There will never be a day when the family is visiting somewhere, and all the people who knew me when, who got into trouble with me or made art or music or theater with me, who knew me back when I was a weird teenager and loved me then, there is no future day when we'll all sit down and have some cookies and watch our kids play together.
And it's sad to think it will never happen. But it's the way I expected my adulthood to be... you pay for that kind of bizarre freedom with a little loneliness later.
I wish Aunt Marla all the happiness in the world. I hope she takes me up on my offer and comes to visit us in Chicago. I hope all my old friends do.
|My 16th birthday crew- only two of them are in regular|
communication with each other these days.
It is one of the few things about normalcy I hope they can inherit from him.
But I hope what they inherit from me is the need for and the ability to find truly great friends. Friends who will go out of their way to be there for you, no matter how long it's been, no matter where they are on the earth or in life. Friends who remain friends despite any obstacle because their bond is one of the most important things that they have in this life.
When I say that my friends, my close friends, are my family... I mean it. I love them as intensely, as profoundly. I love their children simply because they are their children. I love their parents because they're their parents. I love their spouses because they love them. I worry for them when their loved ones are sick, I mourn for them when their loved ones pass away, I remember their birthdays regardless of facebook or birthday tracker or what-have-you.
When I think of the meaning of friendship, I think of the bond that no time, no distance can erase.
|Uncle Brony dancing with my maid of |
honor at my wedding
I don't know if you can have both. I don't know if being close to your friends physically diminishes the emotional bond- I've never had the opportunity to know.
...even the friends who I have and consider close here in Chicago, who are physically near to me, I don't see very often.
But I do know that when your friendship is so strong, no distance can make you grow apart.
Next year, I'm going to my oldest and dearest friend's wedding, and I couldn't be more excited about it- sixteen months ahead of the happy day. I haven't seen her since M and I got married. I don't know when I'll see her again.
I also have no idea when the next time I'll see Aunt Lego and her family, or Aunt Marla and her husband, or Uncle Brony, or any of my old friends might be.
But they will always know how much I love them.
And I will never doubt how much love they have for me and mine.