I heard “Short People” on the radio last week in my car on the way to work and started to bawl. I’m a Randy Newman fan, but what gives?
I clearly try to post once a month, and with four blissful days off, probably the last I’ll have until I get a full-time job that offers me vacation time, I may post more than once over the next week. Believe it!
Friends, I have had four jobs in the past year. If I was 21, I could understand, but we all know I’m 47. It’s been a year, which I say every year, but man, it really has.
It’s Christmas Eve, and I want to go off the deep end a little and tell you something personal that has made me pretty blue this holiday. Not that I need an excuse — as I told my therapist, I’m one of those Charlie Brown-types, writ large.
Christmas cards. We get them, still, maybe a dribble or two. Not the way we used to. I get it. That’s not my issue. I did buy cards this year, and I sent them out. They were darling Victorian cut-out cards with cats that looked like Ringo. How could I resist?
If I don’t get many back, it’s okay. I understand, and frankly, this is probably going to be the last year I do except for my mother and aunt and uncle. Immediate family.
Because we have the Internet. Because the Internet, right? But sometimes, old friends may still be in our address books but not on our Facebook friends list.
I was going through my old pink address book (which I keep meaning to update, I mean, I got a new book and everything — and don’t even suggest I do it electronically because that just doesn’t work for me) and found a listing for my friend Kate.
I hadn’t heard from Kate in about eight years. I’d tried to find her on Facebook, but never could. Kate lived in California, the Valley to be exact.
How was she my friend? Well, it’s because the Internet. Many years ago, back in the dark ages of Bravenet forums, we met up with some other like-minded folks on a Tom Petty fan forum. A core group of us got close, broke off and formed our own private board, and stayed in touch. We did things like make mix tapes — where one person would put two songs on it and then mail it to the next person until we all filled the tape and then everyone got a copy. Many of us met up across the country at one time or another. I went to a concert in Reno with a fellow who I last saw on CBS’ 48 Hours. As a reporter, not a subject, thankfully!
When I managed to get on Jeopardy! in 2000, Kate offered me a place to stay and stuff to do. Although I ended up in a hotel with my family (oh laws, that’s a story for another day), we spent a Friday night at the Pickwick Pub and then crashed at the tackiest, most 1970s’ Holiday Inn. When even brought Valley of the Dolls-style nighties and cheap wine. The concierge, Skippy, brought the Pepto Bismol. Bless his heart, he really did.
She introduced me to her friend who worked in a famous recording studio, and I took a tour. I even snuck around the room where the British band Travis was recording their Invisible Band album. I have the photos to prove it, me looking guilty but giddy.
And she took me to the Disney Studios for lunch, which was phenomenal. Yes, I saw a few famous folks out of the corner of my eye. Her husband, you see, was an animator there.
For years after my trip to Los Angeles, I got Christmas cards from her, all hand-drawn by her husband. And because her husband was a member of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences, I got screeners of Oscar-worthy films, too! On VHS, but this was a while back.
We lost touch, as people do. No more Christmas cards exchanged. And then I saw it, her name in my pink book. I thought I’d give finding her one more try. After all the skills I learned researching people, and the fact that I can spy on my ex college-boyfriend and his wife at any time on Facebook (Shhh, don’t tell. I have a problem. I know. Oh, and my other college ex. He’s a holy roller bicyclist for Jesus. I can’t make this stuff up, folks).
Well, my skills are still sharp. I remembered her home, because I had been there, and it was still listed with her and her husband as owners. And then I did some more digging and found it.
The obituary notice.
She died in March of last year after a “short but difficult” bout with stomach cancer.
And I literally put my head in my hands in disbelief.
This happened over Thanksgiving weekend, my last four-day weekend before this one. It was not a good weekend.
The last time I saw my father alive and coherent was Thanksgiving 2012.
Last year I did not have Thanksgiving with my mother because of issues with my sister. This year, my husband had to work so I went up to mom’s alone. We roasted two chicken breasts and made some stuffing. But during dinner she brought up what to do when she died, and I just lost it. Because it wasn’t the time, you know? And we hashed it out and actually came to a good place in our relationship, but it was a tough, tough day and night.
And then I found out Kate had died. I won’t tell you about my fall in the tub and bruised tibia that closed out the weekend. Enough is enough isn’t just a decades old disco tune, amirite?
So anyway, I’ve been thinking about old friends lately, and thinking about a sweet girl who I met on the Internet and who I spent a fabulous, life-changing week with. I will always be thankful for her friendship, no matter how brief. I will always think of her fondly, and as much as I’m sure her family and close friends miss her, I hope she knows that someone else does, too.
And whenever I remember the night that Randy Newman finally won his Oscar, I’ll also recall that she was there, and cheering and hooting the loudest for him, since she was high school friends with his wife.
Music has always held an important place in my life, so that’s why when I heard a song that reminding me of an occasion it reminded me of a friend.
I’ll post more this weekend, on silly stuff like my favorite movies and music of 2014, and my goals — we’re calling them GOALS, for the new year.
Just remember, as I did, that every connection is meaningful. As we grow closer together through technology, we also grow farther and farther apart.