Did you ever meet someone when you were very young that you considered a friend? Not just any ol’ friend, your best friend. They became nearly interwoven in your life because they were always ‘there’ when you needed them. Every birthday, every anniversary, and every Christmas, a card or cards word arrive in the mail. Each card would be signed, “Always, Your Friend.” When you came to town, without fail, they would make a point to meet up. They stood beside you at your wedding, they comforted you when you grieved, they celebrated your successes. You could always count on them. However, as the years passed, you began to notice subtle changes in the relationship, primarily how this ‘friend’ behaved and how that behavior impacted you. You recognize that you don’t necessarily relate to them any longer and you wonder if you ever actually did. And one spring day, after finally getting your ‘fill’ of them, you have a ground-breaking realization, “I have absolutely nothing in common with this person…and they’re certifiably nuts.”
Yes, I had someone like that in my life for a long time until I finally realized that as much as I loved her, she wasn’t healthy (for me). The only reason I’m even bringing her up is because she keeps invading my dreams. I am sure it’s because my birthday is approaching and I’m probably on her mind (psychic connection). Unfailingly, up until we went our separate ways, I could count on receiving multiple cards (greeting cards and gift cards) from her. Generosity was something she was known for but she ‘paid a price’ for her outlandish spending habits because her finances and credit were continually in question. I never met anyone that bought whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted, and never thought to consider whether she even had the means to actually pay for them (she didn’t). Every single one of her credit cards was maxed out and she would only pay the minimum to not get into trouble with the lenders. I never understood the logic behind her ‘processes’. She would just spend and spend and spend until she had no further resources to draw from, declare bankruptcy, and start all over again.
We met at an ‘away’ track meet when we were freshmen in high school. We attended different schools, but both our schools were invited to the same meet. Neither of us was competing at the time, so we somehow ended up sitting side-by-side on the bleachers in order to have the best vantage point of all the different activities taking place on the track and in the field. When we got to talking, we realized that we had attended the same middle school at the same time, but were never aware of the other’s existence. At the meet we exchanged phone numbers and after a while, we started ‘hanging out’. Her ‘people’ were worlds apart from my ‘people’. Most of her friends were drinkers and smokers and partiers, and several had already graduated from high school or dropped out years earlier. Stopping by one of her friend’s homes and spotting an enormous bong sitting atop a coffee table was a regular occurrence. My friends, on the other hand, were mostly nerdy or quirky. When she and I got together, it was usually on the weekends because we both were involved in extracurricular activities after school and also had part-time jobs.
When we hung out, I could always count on an ‘adventure’. She liked to live on the edge, and when I spent time with her, it gave me a chance to take a walk on the wild side. Most of the activities she was interested in centered around cars. She was big into Mopar and had a fascination specifically with Dodge Challengers and made a point to get to know anyone that owned one. It was a weird obsession that I could never begin to understand. Whether the vehicles were vintage or brand new, it didn’t matter. They were ‘cool’. I could care less about the cars, but I didn’t mind checking out the boys and/or men that sat behind the steering wheel. While she ‘oohed and aahed’ over the engine and ‘paint job’, I ‘oohed and aahed’ over the testosterone-riddled boys/men, clad in leather jackets, that loved to show off their ‘wheels’ to anyone that expressed any interest. If we weren’t hanging around with her Mopar buddies, we were usually driving around like maniacs and raising hell. If we did what I wanted to do, we usually ended up at a dance club. She often declined because it wasn’t her ‘thing’.
For many years, she was part of my life. She came to see me a couple of times when I lived out of state, and whenever I flew ‘home’, I made sure to contact her so we could get together and ‘catch up’. In the beginning, ‘we’ made sense; however, as the years wore on, I started to notice a growing divide. She’d always been quirky and a bit odd. Initially, it didn’t really bother me. That’s just who she was. What made it hard was that as I grew and changed, she didn’t. I went into the military, got married, and started a family, and she stayed stuck in the mindset she had back in 1985. If it was just her permed hair and clothes that stayed the same, it wouldn’t have bothered me in the slightest. I could have lived with that. What I couldn’t live with was having someone in my life whose emotional development abruptly stopped when she was 18 years old. And it wasn’t just that, the other thing that I found unacceptable was her inability to admit when she was wrong and how she went about ‘justifying’ her peculiar decisions and behaviors.
Trying to argue with her was futile. All it seemed to do was get her more fired up. She was never wrong. If I challenged her on anything, I was subjected to all kinds of ‘theories’ or explanations she’d conjure up until I relented. There was a time when she became fixated on Hispanic men and the Spanish language. According to her, from what little exposure she had to the language, she knew how to speak it better than me. She also started listening exclusively to Spanish love ballads. I remember her confidently telling me one afternoon that if she were to spell her name phonetically in Spanish, it would start with ‘ll’ because her actual name started with a ‘J’. I disagreed. “If you spell it that way, it will sound like your name starts with a ‘Y’, like yellow.” Oh, no! She was right and I was way wrong! She’d asked several people and she knew what she was talking about!! I tried to reason with her and reminded her that I’d actually lived in Spain for 3 years and had taken several classes, but she didn’t want to hear it. I finally gave up. I knew continuing to argue was futile.
If that were the only time, sure, ok. But it became every single time we got together. And none of her arguments or justifications made any sense. When Beanie Babies were all the rage, as an investment, she spent $7,000 on Beanie Baby Trading Cards. Yes, she bought boxes and boxes of trading cards, not Beanie Babies. Her intent was to sell them on E-Bay and get rich. But her curiosity got the best of her and she ended up opening every single foil packet within every single box and looking at each individual card, nullifying any potential value they may have had. After that, she donated them to some Christian charity. I think she told me the cards were sent to some impoverished region in South America. I’m sure those folks ‘appreciated her garbage’. When I watched ’40-year-old Virgin’ years ago, it reminded me of her. Her house is full of toys in their original boxes. Someday, she is convinced, those toys are going to make her rich. There are Pokémon figures and World of Warcraft, all kinds of model horses, and every kind of collectible you can possibly imagine.
I get it, there are a lot of people ‘into’ collectibles. What I didn’t get was her indoor/outdoor furniture. After she invited me into her home, when I took a look around, I was puzzled. All of her furnishings, aside from her couch, were camping gear. I thought it was because she couldn’t afford furniture so I suggested she look on Craigslist. She didn’t have a single table to dine at. Her meals were consumed while she sat on the couch, the plate of food resting on her lap. Her reaction to my suggestion about Craigslist was so bizarre that I didn’t even attempt to make sense of it. Her words, “I don’t want a formal table, it triggers me.” What??!! During that visit, she also ‘educated’ me about numerous conspiracies taking place. She didn’t trust the doctors or the government. I didn’t dare bring up Paul Walker (from the Fast and Furious series). If you want to know who actually killed Paul Walker, according to her, it was undoubtedly the Illuminati. That was no ‘random’ car accident he was involved in. He knew too much and as a result, someone had him snuffed out.
Alright, my friends, enough of this ‘crazy’ talk. I’d better wrap this up and continue tomorrow. I still have so much to say and it’s getting late. Thanks so much for stopping by and I hope you return for Part Two!