In 1994, things were not looking good for me. For one, my hair was really, really, really big-so as to make my nose appear smaller comparatively. I dressed in clothing that was 8-10 times larger than my actual size-so as to deflect attention away from my butt, which these days would be called “bootylicious” by really ridiculous people, but I believe it to be my second major physical flaw. I lived in a studio apartment that was crawling with ants, and buzzing with flies, not because I was disgusting (alright, maybe I was a little disgusting), but because the building was quite old and dilapidated. Years later it would burn to the ground, which I have always imagined as something that happened quickly, since it was the true definition of a tinder box.
I lived alone, and unlike years later when I yearned to be alone, this was my “close-to-slitting-my-wrists- I’m-so-depressed” age, so being alone was brutal for me. I was knee deep in therapy, chain smoking to keep myself busy, and mostly eating my food out of a can. This clearly was not my finest moment, and I imagine that any person that was watching me during this phase, watched me with great relief that it was not, in fact, their own life they were observing.
This too, was the time in my life where I met my dear friend, Erica. You all got to know her (unless, of course, you already did know her…lucky bastards) last week when she cracked open her rib cage so she could pour her heart into her guest blog post. But I met her almost 20 years ago, and it stands alone as a relationship that brought me great joy in the midst of terrible emotional pain, and internal struggle.
Talk about hair! Good god, have you SEEN her hair? Well, in 1994 it was delightful, and so, of course, was she. We both had the great misfortune of working for a horrible mother fucking asshole (I’m being nice, actually) that owned and operated a local gas station and ice cream stand. I ran the register and sold beer to all the alcoholics, and cigarettes to myself and the working man. I saw so many men in Dickies during this time in my life that I have always despised the trend they became later. Anyway, Erica scooped and served the shit out of some ice cream, and also kept me company.
She’s younger than I am, and so I would hear all about her high school life while we listened to music together, and I chain smoked. We shared a love for music and singing, which is something I shared with very few people. Erica knew of me before she met me. She knew that I was a singer, and so the day she asked me if I liked Tori Amos and I rolled my eyes and said something terribly snarky, Erica planted her feet and told me I was a ridiculous fool. She said it the way Erica says things, which is hard to explain (she has a way…trust me… she’s like a character that’s been written so clearly in books, but she’s real!) and it cracked me the hell up. And anyone that knows me ought to know that if you crack me up? I will love you forever.
Unless you’re an asshole.
This story is longer, but I’m keeping it mine. I left the gas station eventually, and left New York. I moved around, and lost touch with many people, including Erica. I wasn’t around when Jenna died, and although I heard about what happened I didn’t insert myself back in Erica’s life and offer my help. I told myself then that it would seem voyeuristic, or insincere, but to tell you the truth, what happened to Jenna, and Erica, and Janice, and Bruce…to all the friends and family…was too horrible for me to know how to be what I thought she needed. How terribly naïve I was! I would give anything to go back in time and at the very least, send her a card so she knew how often I thought of her, and how deeply I cared. I was a coward.
All these years later, when I saw Erica again it was like no time had passed. She got off the plane fabulous, sharp, funny, and self aware. It was love at first (or I suppose, second) sight, I think. She’s a fixture in my life, and someone that I will know and love forever. It’s a powerful force, friendship. She’s one of the truest people I know. I feel both fiercely protective of her, and incredible humbled by her at the same time. Plus, she brings the funny. And that HAIR!
For the next few weeks, my dear friend will be my guest blogger. She has stories to tell…things to share, and I want to read them. I have a feeling that you want to read them, too. So, I am trusting you with my friend, and I know you will be kind and loving. And then, Sugar Snap Me will be back. Back and ready for action! In the meantime, enjoy my friend, and what she’s chosen to share. It takes a lot to share yourself, and I’m so grateful that she has.