For some reason my friend SJ and I decided, at some point in the last four years since I’ve been back in Alaska, that August 13th is our Love-aversary. She had it in her work calendar and everything.
She’s an engineer who designs state parks and does REALLY IMPORTANT MATH TYPE WORK that I do not understand and she is currently working in Denali National Park on a project. Denali is about five hours away from where we live in Anchorage. It’s Tuesday, August 13. It’s our love-aversary.
Quick detour: I love Costco sheetcake. I love it more than any other cake or dessert ever. I especially love the vanilla filling and big, fluffy icing flowers of cheap, butter heavy frosting. These cakes are $20 and HUGE so I rarely have cause or need for an entire freaking sheet cake.
But today, when I showed up to the dive bar where Sj was playing a short set (oh yeah, she’s also an amazing musician) after driving into town there sat this beautiful, flower covered love cake.
I held my shit together while I was at the bar. I did okay. I hugged her like eight times and we rarely hug, but other than that I played it pretty cool. I won’t see her again before we leave state and the next time I’ll probably see her is when she comes to visit our other friend who’s baby is due in January.
I did start crying about the cake in the car on the way home. Because it’s just a stupid $20 cake but my friend drove five hours to get it, walk it around downtown Anchorage and then sit in a bar with it while she waited for me to show up.
I am so lucky. I have so many amazing people in my life. I have so many here in Alaska and so many more that I’m headed back to in Vegas. I have them in Seattle and Portland and Kansas and Georgia and England and New Jersey and Texas and California and Florida and everywhere in between.
I am just so lucky.
Smile For the Camera - Young Pallas Cat - Wildlife Heritage Foundation Cat Sanctuary, Ashford, Kent (that face!) (by www.smilezoomclick.co.uk)
this is totes adorbz and all but the thing that made me giggle was my friend Laura’s tags on it.
Guys, she is this cat and this face is what I refer to affectionately as “Laura face” or “pie happy hour face.” I also now make this face when presented with a camera.
Do you guys have a friend that just makes you SO FREAKING HAPPY just by looking at them that it makes you a little dizzy? Laura is that friend. She is enthusiastic to a point of ridiculousness and that enthusiasm is infectious.
So, if you don’t have one of those friends you can either find a zoo with one of these pallas cats or find yourself a Laura. I’m betting Laura’s bite less.
friendship’s really weird. Like, you just pick some humans you’ve met and you’re like “yup. i like these ones” and you just do stuff with them
I feel like there’s a little more to my process. Like a battery of tests and some obstacle course shit. Plus I need to know where you rate on the Kinsey scale. Science.
I wrote this July 3, 2011 after a long, lovely but trying day at the Girdwood Forest Fair. This was a weird weekend. This was right around the time I met my now husband, I was living in a friends basement and was conquering fears all over the place. I spent this entire summer in a pair of leggings and a black lycra mini skirt. I wore a neon teal feather in my hair and went to a lot of dance parties. If I had to pick a moment in my 20’s where everything was super fucking cool with little to no downsides, these few weeks in June and July 2011 are it.
Also, for the record, my fear of spiders is very real and I have to take medication at night to not have nightmares about bugs being all over me. So there’s a little context for this story. Enjoy.
Alternately Titled: Conquering Fears and Injuring Bitches.
Yesterday was a most epic ladydate day and so many things happened that I feel an almost moral obligation to share its contents with the internet at large.
Let me start with this: I don’t camp. I don’t camp not because I don’t like camping, or because I’m afraid of bears. I don’t camp because I hate bugs. I would seriously sleep in the dirt on the ground with nothing more than a blanket to keep me warm and guarded against the elements if I could guarantee that no bugs could touch me. I have a serious, no joke, full on freak out response phobia of spiders in particular. I am a mostly rational human being who understands that I am approximately a billion times the size of a spider and that there is not much a spider can do to me to harm me. Alaska is not home to many poisonous species of spiders (save the Brown Recluse which I have seen a few of in my years in Alaska but its rare.) so really I’m fully aware that my pathological aversion to spiders is ridiculous.
However that does not stop me from having a nervous breakdown in the backseat of a moving vehicle after a long afternoon at the Girdwood Forest Fair where I appear to have brought home a small brown companion that is now scaling my arm. NO! Holy shit now it’s on my leg! FUCK! NOW I DON’T KNOW WHERE IT IS OH MY GOD I CAN FEEL IT EVERYWHERE ON ME THERE ARE A MILLION OF THEM STOP THE CAR STOP THE CAR STOP THE CAR.
I see the spider first on my left arm, I swing wildly and knock it off somewhere into the recesses of the car. We are headed back to Anchorage from the Girdwood Forest Fair so we are on the Seward Highway traveling roughly 5,000 mph on a two lane road that is couched between sheer mountain face and steep inlet bluffs. The spider is loose in the vehicle and I have nowhere to run. Instant paralyzing fear grips me. I continue to brush my arm fruitlessly still feeling the phantom footsteps of my tiny assailant.
Moments later its making its furious ascent up my leg. I bat wildly again and knock him to the floor boards, still pretty much freaking out but not yet wailing or crying. I continue to run my hands over my arms and legs knowing that my tiniest attacker is still on the prowl and has not yet been subdued. The car continues to careen towards town and I soldier silently on in the backseat, suffering this continued affront to my humanity with dignity and poise.
Until that little fucker appears again, a third time from between my legging clad thighs. And this, dear readers, is when I lose my shit. I scream and claw madly at my legs this time taking note of where this eight legged terrorist has fallen to the floor boards and then I begin the unbridled dance of spider death and stomp the shit out of him while screaming and crying. Three times, friends, three times is too many for me. At this point I ask quietly if my dear friend and driver can please pull the car over at the next available turn out so we can do a spider check. I fear my fragile emotional state will not be able to handle any more encounters with the denizens of nature and that if this happens again in an enclosed vehicle I will be forced to throw myself from a moving car on a busy highway just to escape the wrath of these horrible creatures Satan has clearly cast created to haunt mere mortals on Earth.
We do our spider check, I come away clean. My ladyfriends do not mock or joke about the serious emotional turmoil I have just suffered. Nor do they make fun of the fact that all the excitement has now sent me into an asthmatic fit and I’m reduced to hyperventilating and puffing on my inhaler. No, they pander to my crazy and pat me down for spiders. We continue on our way towards town.
We decide to take a detour and climb a fucking mountain. What?!? Yeah. A fucking mountain. Which normally would be a huge deal for me because I am also scared of heights and sharp pointy things like rocks. However after having just survived the Epic Battle of Spidery Terror I am remarkably calm about scaling a rock face in my Toms canvas shoes and lightweight hoodie.
Which is good because I got to see this:
And that was my Epic Ladydate Day. (There was also fried foods, feathers in my hair, fake tattoos and the invention of a fake biker gang, lots of photos and a house party but those are all totally secondary to how epic the first part of the day was.)
Oh, I have some of those. But it’s taken me thirty years to find like five people who fit this description.
My wish for you:
I want you to be loved.
I want you to find someone who will hold you when you need held, stand behind you to watch you succeed on your own when you need it.
I want for you to have someone who makes you laugh so hard you spit milk out of your nose. Who knows that sometimes the only thing that fixes bad days is fro yo and friendship.
I want for you to have someone who is proud of your accomplishments, who thinks you are the thing that makes the sun rise in the morning and the moon shine at night.
I want for you to have a person in your home that makes it feel safe, the safest place in the world. In a world where things are mad, crazy and wild: they make it quiet and still.
I want for you to have someone who believes in the promise of your future together. For someone who wants to work for that future. For someone who is willing to bleed, ache and cry for that future.
I want for you someone that can hold your hand and have your back. I want for you someone who can help hold the pieces together when you want to fall apart.
I want for you to have someone who knows where the glue is when those pieces do fall apart.
I want for you a person with whom you can practice radical honesty. Who knows your secrets and holds them like pieces of delicate porcelain instead of weighted stones.
I want for you to find in your lover what you have in your friends.
Until then, know that I love you in each of these ways.
When I met Sarah Jo I was 19 and she was 17. I think. Memory is a slippery bitch, especially when you’ve sustained a lot of trauma and drink a lot. We were young, I know that much. I hated her almost instantly. She was cute and talented and everyone liked her. I hated that the most; that everyone liked her.
We had too many friends in common not to be something like friends though. And I tolerated her existence with as much grace as I could muster. Which is to say: not much. I was sullen and mean. At that point in my life I was broken but not hopeless. Possessing just enough hope actually, to make me even meaner than I already was. I was a sad thing, malnourished and overwhelmed by a life I thought was terrible but in fact was must middling at best.
Years later, after an exhaustive decade in the wilds of the Lower 48, we made contact again. Bonded over crafting and a shared history of douche bag losers and the love of a small town we’re both too big for. I came home, tail between my legs after a break up. I wanted to write ‘bad break up’ just now, but it wasn’t bad. It was anti climatic if anything. It was the inevitable conclusion to 7 years of ambivalence.
I came home.
She’d always been here.
And just like that we were friends. Soft at first. Still finding footing in the well worn tracks of mutual friendships and that common history. Stronger later, furious even. I clung to her in that first year home like a woman drowning. I was terrified of everything. I was sad on a level that can’t even be quantified. There was no reason for it, but I was fucked up bad.
She was this beacon of light at the end of the tunnel. Settled and secure, though scarred herself. A few years younger than me, but already so self assured. Confident in a way that isn’t grating. She is talented, in several ways. Everyone likes her still. I don’t hate that like I used to. I learned from it this time, mimicked her patience with people I find obnoxious. Mimed her ability to make small talk to strangers. I haven’t mastered it, I probably never will but sometimes I can fake it for a few minutes. Brush away the overwhelming sense of awkward that I’ve been burdened with my entire life.
Sarah Jo is anything but awkward. She is the kind of woman who can wear a stupid hat and everyone thinks it looks cool. She is the girl who walks into a bar and half a dozen people turn to her like flowers to the sun. She has this easy demeanor about her that must have been hard fought because no one, no one, is that cool by default. The people who appear that way have that fatal flaw of being insincere. Sarah Jo is sincere.
To say our friendship is without fault is dishonest. There are things that still don’t fit right. I still cling more than I should and she is not enough person to go around for all the greedy hands that would grab at her attention. I often feel like her wayward shadow, there but not there. Only noticed when it’s gone. I stand to the left of her stage almost always, basking in her light and trying to catch up to where it is she’s already been.
For a girl who never left, she’s managed to out live us all.
(This pretentious and probably purple prose brought to you by painkillers and the unfortunate malaise I get every Sunday evening. The sentiment is real though, Sarah Jo is the shit. This is the first in that series of “Human Reviews” I threatened to start writing. Maybe they’ll get better. Maybe not. For now I’m just experimenting writing in a style other than my regular overly casual one.)