Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Resoluted in 2013

I have had such a good year.  The biggest and most important thing about my year is I changed jobs (http://tempestinapot.blogspot.com/2013/04/tempest-in-hoosegow.html)!  My new life away from my previous job has been so much better.  I feel again like there may be hope for me yet, that I found this hope while working for a jail is a little surprising.  Yet, working behind bars is so much better than working with books.  My new job has come with challenges, but as I face each one and work towards solutions I like my job even more.  Now when I pass out on my futon at night it is from exhaustion, not depression.  Epic win on that one.

On the epic fail list is a change in my social circle.  This change has been painful, but it has allowed me to throw myself into succeeding at my new job.  These two changes have also given me back my evenings and allowed me more time to spend with my beautiful wife.

Speaking of my beautiful wife, we are married in way more states then we were last year.  The end of DOMA has opened so many doors for our relationship to be legally recognized as what it is, a marriage.  Also both of our jobs recognizes us as married.  Epic win again!  I am expecting next year to be more epic wins for equality.

I reviewed my resolutions from last year (http://tempestinapot.blogspot.com/2013/01/resolute.html) and find on this point I am going to give myself a sort of win. I did write this year.  In fact I took the NaBloPoMo challenge to blog everyday in the month of November.  I decided to write about falling in love with Natalie back in the day.  So many of you said so many nice things about our story, thank you.  However, I wish I would have written more this year. 

But I did knit a sweater! Okay, it was a pullover, but I am calling it a sweater.  Epic win on the sweater for me.  I have even worn the sweater out in the public and been complimented on how great it looks (thank you everyone for being so polite). At first I failed on the sweater but I added some ribbon to the neckline and saved all that knitting, so yay me http://tempestinapot.blogspot.com/2013/10/first-sweater-first-sweater-failure.html).

My year was so good I think I will forego making any resolutions for 2014.  Okay, maybe I will resolve to make another sweater, that sounds like a great resolution.  Have a Happy New Years my friends.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Knitting 2013

This year I scaled back my Christmas knitting and actually did most of my knitting through out the year.  Again compared to previous years it was much less.  In the end I gifted 4 pairs of mitts, 3 washcloths (thanks Spidermonkey for the inspiration), and 2 scarves.  I also have 3 as of yet gifted items (one of which is actually still on needles).  I love giving and receiving knitted items for presents, but this year I was just not inspired to knit for Christmas.  Maybe next year I will have that mojo back we will see.

However I this is what I did knit:
3 Ball Band Washcloths
2 Pair of Fingerless Moss Stitch Mitts in a Silk/Wool Blend
A Pair of Fingerless Moss Stitch Mitts in Angora


A Pair of Sparkly Fingerless Moss Stitch Mitts in Rayon
 I Hope everything I knit went to a home where they know the items were knitted with love.
 
Casablanca Wavy Scarf
Meandering Rib Scarf in Cotton Chenille
 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Fiestaware Holiday

My nearest and dearest know I love my Fiestaware.  They make sure my holidays are colorful and bright by giving me new pieces for my vast collection.  This year I was the luckiest Tempest in the world.  I got plates, bowls, and serving utensils in Fiestaware. 

9 inch buffet plates and a lemon grass hostess bowl

 Medium Lapis Sized Heart Bowl with Small Tangerine Heart Bowl

 


New Serving Utensils with Medium Lapis Heart Bowl and Tardis Teapot

 

 

Now to figure out where to put it all.




Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Tardis of Teapots

A couple of weeks ago Natalie bought me a new teapot.  I must admit, it was an impulse buy on her part which happened too fast for me to stop her.  It was not that the teapot was not attractive, but it looked kind of small.  I thought it would only yield maybe two small cups of tea or one large cup of tea.  I brought it home and thought what the hell I will give it a try.  The teapot is a lovely round, enamel green, thing made of stainless steel.  The first pot I made actually filled almost 4 Fiestaware mugs, each mug is 12 ounces.  I was a little surprised that the tea just kept coming out of the shiny spout.  The next day I made a pot of tea for our larger Nightmare before Christmas mugs, those run about 18 to 20 ounces a mug.  We had just enough tea for those mugs with a little room leftover for honey and a splash of milk.  Again, I was surprised.  So surprised I started calling the new teapot the Tardis of teapots. 

Natalie kept laughing at me every time I talked about the amazing new teapot.  I would say, "But it really is bigger on the inside than the outside."  She would laugh even more.  I didn't get it.  Well today I got it.  Really, I got it, a Tardis teapot.  When I opened the package she laughed and smiled at me.  All this time that I have been going on and on about my new Tardis of teapots, she actually had a Tardis teapot for me.  So crazy and awesome. 

Tardis Teapot on Left, Teapot with Tardis Qualities on Right


Good presents which will be much enjoyed.  I hope everyone had a great holiday, much love.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Welcome to Equality New Mexico & Utah

Sorry, no Utah Magnet Yet

Talk about two wonderful early Christmas presents.  Yesterday New Mexico's Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to deny same sex couples the right to be married.  Judge Edward Chavez wrote, "Denying same-gender couples the right to marry and thus depriving them and their families of the rights, protections and responsibilities of civil marriage violates the equality demanded by the equal protection clause of the New Mexico Constitution."  I had suspected New Mexico was joining the ranks of same sex equality and had already bought the magnet in anticipation of this inevitability. However, thank you the Land of Enchantment!

And today when you least expect it we get Utah.  Utah!  I did not even see that one coming.  Another federal judge, Robert J. Shelby, wrote, “The state’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason...Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional.” (http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-utah-gay-marriage-20131220,0,4328899.story#ixzz2o5Dy676A)  Well, welcome to equality Utah and thank you Judge Shelby.

In one week we get states 17 and 18, where couples are being married while I write.  Such a wonderful present.  If Utah can change their mind, so can Missouri and every other state in the union and then the world.  Feeling so hopeful right now.



Sunday, December 15, 2013

Dyeabolical Sockhands

My friend Rachel at Dyeabolical Yarns (http://www.dyeabolicalyarns.com/) came up with a pattern called "Sockhands" to showcase her vibrant hand dyed yarns.  She said, "They started out as a sock pattern and whopsie daisy turned in to fingerless mittens."  The pattern is here: http://dyeabolicalyarns.blogspot.com/2013/11/sockhands.html.  The very  vivacious models for this pattern are two of my favorite knitters having too much fun.  I especially love the photo of the two of them mock kung fu fighting.  Take a peak at the pattern just to see these wonderfully silly knitters.


 I don't know if it was the crazy photos or the pattern, but I decided I should make a pair of these mitts for me.  I just happened to have a mutant strain of Dyeabolical Yarns in a color way  I am calling Easter Egg,  I thought the Easter Egg yarn would be perfect for this pattern.  The pattern was easy, the mitts knitted up quickly, and they look smashing.  I especially liked the way she designed the thumb gusset in the ribbing section.  It made for an elegant looking line on the mitt. 



I always have a difficult time photographing anything knitted for the hands, very complicated.  Baby Sis was enlisted to help me show off my knitting prowess.  She was a natural for the photo shoot and coincidentally her nail polish matched the mitts.  I even managed to work in a Fiestaware demitasse cup and saucer in one of the photographs.  Clever me or maybe it is more like obsessed me.  Thanks Baby Sis for the help.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Knitted GIfts

This time of the year I am in the final rush for Christmas presents.  I have in the past stressed out about not getting my gift knitting done by December 25th.  This year I said, no to that headache and scaled back my expectations on handmade gift giving.  However, with the weather getting colder and the holiday season upon us I have found myself thinking about knitted items from my own childhood.

Like most kids I preferred toys to clothes, but occasionally something special would slip through.  When I was 5 or 6 my grandma gave me a stocking cap and scarf set that I loved and wore every winter with pride.  That does sound charming, but I am sad to say there is a smudge on this memory.  Though this is not a good excuse, the time was the early 70s and one of my favorite restaurants then was Sambo's.  Sambo's was the Denny's of my youth.  I loved their hot cocoa and hash browns.  My grandma knew my feelings about Sambo's and bought me a neon orange and black hat and scarf set emblazoned with the restaurant's logo.  I am not going to lie to you the hat even sported a black pompom on the top.  I LOVED them both and wore them all winter long.

After a couple of years the set was looking more than a little shabby.  The hat was especially sad with a spout of black yarn in tribute to the now missing pompom.  I didn't care I just loved the bright color offset with the intense black logo and scarf even had stripes.  I felt like a tigress once I had the scarf wrapped around my neck. 

My mom kept a laundry basket at the bottom of the coat closet to catch all the miscellaneous winter accessories.  When I wasn't wearing my Sambo's hat and scarf they hung out in the basket.  One day they weren't there.  I checked the bottom of the basket, I pulled the basket out of the closet and checked the floor.  I stomped around in a snit because I how could something that bright hide from me?  My mom gave me a different hat and scarf, but the colors weren't as bright and I didn't feel like a tiger anymore.



The missing accessories left me with questions.  Where did they go?  And Why did the stripes on the scarf have a wonky jog to it as it went around to the other side?  And how come there were no more Sambo's?   As an adult I can answers all of those questions.  Sambo's aside from being poorly name made some bad marketing choices.  I think, rightfully, people were offended by the lack of sensitivity of the company to use pejorative racial images in the restaurant.  Sambo's removed the offending images, but the damage was done.  I do think there still one Sambo's left in California.  As to my accessories, my mom had let me wear the set because I loved it so much, but over time she knew the garments would have to go.  One night after I had went to bed she dug them out, optimistically hoping I wouldn't notice the theft.  Finally, now that I knit, I know the answer to why the stripes looked weird on the side. Trust me there is a good answer, but it might bore a non-knitter.  Mysteries solved all, but one.  What the hell the was I thinking loving that neon orange so much? 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Burn Out

Since the end of NaBloPoMo I have been a little burned out on my virtual life.  So, I have been taking a little break from the virtual world.  No big drama just needing to recharge and spend some time with my wife, my family, and my knitting.  All is well, just keeping the home fires burning.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Day 30--Switcheroo and Wrap Up

Okay,  for the last day of the month, I've agreed to do the wrap up.  Who am I?  Well, I'm Jamie's less cyber-savvy half, Natalie.  It has been fun going through all of this ancient history, a little embarrassing, and at times, painful.  Still Jamie's memory is much better than mine, so I shan't post any corrections or even objections.  Suffice to say the last 30 plus years have been a pretty wild trip and I'd like no one better than Jamie by my side.  We've shared much laughter and many tears along the way.

The past, however, is the past and it can't be changed.  My focus rather is the future.  Even now, I can't think of anyone I'd rather be stranded on a desert island with than her.  As I've often told her...I won't die without her, but my life would lose all of its color.  After all of these years, Jamie still surprises me, she still makes me laugh, she still makes me crazy, and she still takes my breath away.  Here's to the next 30 years together.  I love you, crazy woman, and I am so glad you've chosen to share your life with me.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Day 29: Prince & The Revelution

You know how some television shows have those long story arcs which last through a season, but occasionally thrown in there is an episode not quite on par with the rest of the season.  It doesn't really fit the tone of the show and you know some hack was paid to flush out the allotted episodes for the season.  Okay, this is that blog post.  I am so close to completing the 30 day challenge, I am stretching to find fodder for today. 

I decided that fodder should be about Prince & the Revolution and the soundtrack for Purple Rain.  I know I have already talked about it through out the month, but it come as a surprise to me how much we loved those songs.  In fact Natalie said to me one day after reading my blog, "That whole album really was our first song."  She is right, but don't tell her I said that.

Notice Wendy's arm around Lisa

After writing about going to see the movie, Purple Rain, I dragged out my CD of the soundtrack and have been listening to it for inspiration.  I can remember just after Natalie and I became lovers getting all swoony after singing a rousing duet of "Take Me With You."  Going to our first gay bars in Columbia, MO and dancing like wild women to "Let's Go Crazy."  Excited to find lesbians talking about the water being ready in the very beginning of "Computer Blues."  Quoting lines from "Darling Nikki," to one another to be sexy.  And of coursing doing the hand signs for, "I will Die 4 U," behind straight people's back as a secret communication to each other of our commitment to one another.  The soundtrack to our love story would definitely begin with Prince & the Revolution.

Writing this month has made me revisit this love of the purple one.  I don't know that he would appreciate knowing his music was the fuel for a lesbian love story, but it was.  So to you Prince and the back up band I say thank you for giving us the music which was the mortar for the foundation of the relationship that still stands today.  And the doves cry...

(Tomorrow is a big day on my blog so tune in for the last installment of the month.)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Day 28: Thanksgiving

The Spread
Today we had Thanksgiving at our house.  I looked around the table and had the three women I love most in the world around me.  My wife, my mother, and my sister.  Each one of them knows how to make me that special kind of crazy, that only someone I love could do. I would be lost without them.  We started cooking last night and worked through the morning to prepare for our feast.  I even made sure I had my fiestaware all ready for the meal.  Everything looked pretty.  Even the dogs got quite a few tasty treats.  I am just so thankful to be surrounded by people I love, serving the them good food on festive dishes.   Feeling so loved today.

 
The Sister
 
The Mom
 
The Clean Up Crew
 
 
 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day 27: Afterwords

Reviewing the last 26 days of my blog I have re-discovered the women Natalie and I were in our youth.  There have been some surprises in the reminiscing.  I was not surprised by how much we drank.  Trust me I remember way too many hangovers.  I am surprised we did not become statistics every time one of us drove after drinking.  I do remember smoking pot, but I struggled to be honest and confess it to my friends on my blog.  I would like to have glossed over that indiscretion of my misspent youth.   I would also have liked to lied about being a pin wearing sorority girl.  Another sin of my youth.

Some behavior I cannot forgive myself regardless of my age.  I am by nature a selfish person.  Knowing Natalie has taught me to be a better person, change is not without difficulty.  Even now I sometimes make missteps.  Randy who has stayed a friend throughout my life was hurt by some of things I wrote.  In my selfish quest to be honest I did not respect that part of my story is his story as well.  I can only apologize and hope to one day make-up for not being a better friend.

My gratitude also goes out to everyone for all of the positive feedback I have received while telling our tale.  Your kindness and support helped me to continue on a few nights when I wanted to just knit instead of blog.  Natalie's sister, Rachal, was especially encouraging as she read every post almost as soon as it went up. 

This project has ran the gamut of emotions for me, from comedy to semi-tragedy.  But one thing has stood out among all the other feelings, my love for Natalie.  She manages to bring out those qualities which are the best parts of me.  Everyday as I thought about what I was going to write, I thought about her, the things I wanted to share about this amazing woman, and in the process I fell in love with her all over again.  Of course I have found with Natalie I fall in love with her again every time she looks at me and gives me that pirate smile.


Natalie and I Circa 1990

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day 26: All Good Things Come to an End

And then my winter break was over.  Reality crashed in on us, we had to go back to our separate colleges.  Our schools were only 2 hours apart, which seems like an eternity when you are crazy in love.  I think my parents took me back to school.  On the ride back I remember looking out the window and thinking about everything that had happened.  I told myself I had just wanted to experiment by having a lesbian experience.  Now that it was done, I could move on with my life.  My first semester had been so full of new and fascinating things, surely my second semester would be the same. The distractions would help keep my mind off of Natalie.

As you can imagine, things did not work out that way.  Almost every weekend Natalie and I would be together.  Sometimes she would show up in the middle of the week, too.  I missed a lot of classes, neglected my sorority, and spent more time at Natalie's college then mine.  I remember sitting in on her classes while working on my philosophy homework. 

One weekend in February she showed up and we went to spend the weekend with my aunt and uncle in Branson.  They had no clue we were a couple, but they welcomed her as if she were already a member of the family.  It was a cold February weekend, but we spent time walking hand in hand on the deserted shores of Lake Taneycomo.  I remember standing on the dock and kissing.  Natalie looked at me and said, "I want to marry you."


Of course I said yes, and we were married in our hearts that cold February day overlooking Lake Taneycomo.

By the end of that semester, my college was in my mind as small as the town I had come from.  I transferred to Natalie's college and by the fall semester we were living together.  I would like to tell you the rest of our lives together has been magical, but like everyone else we have had our difficulties.  Life is dirty and messy regardless of how much you love someone.  I never thought we would make it, but almost 29 years later we are still married in our hearts and finally, married on paper.  Either that or maybe I still haven't made up mind yet on the whole lesbian experiment.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Day 25: Don't Ask, Don't Tell

When you fall in love with someone you want to stand on top of the highest hill and proclaim it to the world.  When I fell in love with Natalie I was giddy with emotions and wanted everyone to know.  However, being young lesbians we couldn't tell our friends or family.  We did not even tell our friend, Debbie, she thought all homosexuals should be treated like criminals, which became a barrier in our friendship.  Also, in 1985 Natalie was on an ROTC scholarship.  This was before, "Don't ask, don't tell," and the military would discharge people just on the mere suggestion of homosexuality.  We had to hide the love we shared and hide it well.  It was very hard on me, I am not a person who keeps secrets.

My last weekend home before returning to college Natalie spent the weekend at my house.  The weekend was full of surreptitious caresses and heated glances so no one would know.  There was one member of my family who could know about us, my infant niece.  I remember her sitting in her high chair and laughing at us while she banged her spoon on the tray.  The first person to know about Natalie and I was my niece.  I cannot comment on how knowing about her lesbians aunts since infancy has affected her.  I hope it has made her a more accepting of people as a whole and that she passes those feelings on to her children.  I hope for a whole generation of children to think it is okay to have two aunts or two uncles.

My niece in her high chair with my parents, 1985
I would like to say the rest of our friends and family were as accepting, but I can't.  Each one of them took their own time wrapping their minds around our relationship.  Natalie took the worst of it all the way around.  Six months later her dad would disown her because of me and a month after that my dad would threaten to shoot her for the same reason.  Those bridges needed to be rebuilt, and over time they were.  Again my hope for my nieces and nephews is that they never have to hide who they love.  Six months of loving Natalie and not being able to to tell anyone was cruel.  I would not wish that fate on anyone.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Day 24: Hairy Mary

When I finally came home with Natalie after my self-imposed exile my mom and I had to make up.  I remember it was one of the first times my mom saw me as an adult.  This fight and the reconciliation was Natalie's introduction to the drama of my family.  She weathered it well then, she weathers it well now.

Again, Natalie stayed with me that night and we ended up having a third join us, my erstwhile boyfriend, Randy.  As I have said before Natalie and Randy knew each other fairly well.  I felt awkward with both of them together.  I had such strong feelings for them.  I kept trying to decide which one of them I should be with.  Both of them had so much to offer, but in different ways.  Randy had societal acceptance on his side, but the connection I was finding with Natalie was enticing. 

The three of us drove around for awhile and ended with a joint.  Okay, put that up there with more sins of my youth, but yes, I did on a few occasions smoke dope.  I know drug use is wrong and I would like to tell you I didn't inhale, but I can't.  We found a gravel road and the three got out of the car and passed the joint around until it was just the end.  For some reason, I can't imagine what, we could not remember what to call the end of the joint.  Randy had the end and we just kept saying, "Swallow the bug Randy."  He did, peer pressure can be ugly.

After we got high we went back to my house and played trivial pursuit.  It was the most difficult game of trivial pursuit I ever played.  Natalie got a card that asked something like, "Who was Margaretha Geertruida Zelle better known as?"

Natalie knew the answer, but in her befuddled mind she couldn't get it quite right.  She kept looking at Randy and saying, "Hairy Mary, Hata Mary, no, no, it is Mary something."

 
Randy and I just looked at her shaking our head in agreement to whatever she said.  It goes without saying that drugs make you stupid.  In the end we were too high to  even play trivial pursuit.  We gave up on the game and all three us passed out on the living room floor.  I was laying on the floor between the two of them trying to decide which one to turn to.  I wanted them both, but knew I could only have one.  The sticking point kept coming down to acceptance.  Acceptance of my desire to be with a woman or the desire of acceptance from the world I lived in.  I was so conflicted that night.

Randy ended up spending the night and sleeping on the couch.  Natalie slept all tangled up with me on my twin bed.  The sleeping arrangement seem to decide the outcome of my dilemma. In the morning both of them left and I would not see Randy again for many months.  He would write to me and we would talk on the phone, but my plan to marry him after graduation was gone.  Once I had my taste for that feeling of completeness I found with Natalie, I just could not give it up.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Day 23: The Cavalry

File:USCavalryFieldUniforms1876.gif
After two days of mooning over each other, both of us had to go back to the real world.  Natalie took me home and she went back to her grandmother's over forty-five minutes away.  I remember the day being cold and overcast.  We had stopped several times on our way back to my home to kiss and tell each other how much we were in love.  It was over the top mushy stuff that only two people drunk on the newness of each other can say.  It was hard to watch her leave after she dropped me off.

I spent the day in my room thinking about what had happened.  My brain was awash with all her kisses and sweet words.  Sometimes, I would have to sit down and take a few deep breaths to continue with whatever task I was trying to accomplish.  Reality would start to break in, I loved Randy, I wanted to marry him after college, I had a plan. I know it may sound silly to some, but for the first time in my life I felt like I had finally found the right niche for me.  In many ways I felt like I was home when I was with her. As naive as I was I knew the world I lived in had no tolerance for homosexuality.  If I continued to be with Natalie, I would lose my friends, my family, and all I was working to achieve.  I was she worth that, I asked myself.

Later that afternoon as it began to snow another drama overtook my life.  My mother and I had a difficult relationship at that time.  It is not that either of us were bad to the other, but a lifetime of struggling against each other came to a head.  We fought bitterly, which ended with both of us hurt and needing to be away from one another.  Truly this fight was the last big fight we ever had, we may disagree now, but nothing even close to that explosion.  I called Natalie in tears and without a thought to the weather she came to retrieve me.

Like the cavalry she had come to my aid without even knowing what she was rescuing me from.  She just knew I was crying as if my heart was breaking and I needed her.  The weather had turned from snow flurries to heavy snow with icy road conditions, but still she came.  I remember just throwing my bag in the car and leaving.  I left a note saying I was gone and that was it.

Something I should say now, Natalie is a very good driver.  Regardless of the situation she pays attention to the road and rarely speeds or even changes lanes without using her blinker.  I was crying, the visibility was poor, the roads slick, and she did managed all of those things while driving a stick in a compact car.  The drive back to her house must have been brutal for her, but she stayed the course. We made it to her place in one piece and my tears had finally dried up. 

We spent three days snowed in at her grandmother's house.  Our nights were spent exploring the gift of each others bodies and the days were spent helping her grandmother around the house.  We learned so much about each other during that snowbound week.  I found out she read voraciously and sometimes she had nightmares.  She learned about my struggle with my mother and that I could be very sharp witted.  I think if there was any doubt in my mind about my feelings for Natalie, these cold days together removed them. We were in love with no clue on what to do with it, but to just keep living in our stolen moments together figuring out the rest as it got there.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Day 22: Ham and Beans

Day 21 & 22 are literally and figuratively the climax of our story.  I have really struggled today with continuing with what happened in the early days of our relationship.  I kept wondering would more be superfluous. We could just leave our two heroines basking in the afterglow of their first night together.  This image implies we lived happily ever after.  However, as we found out in the decades to come falling in love is easy, staying in love is hard.  Lots (as in thousands) of missteps were ahead of us.

We spent the day looking at each other with those goofy lovesick stares, but only occasionally squeezing each others hands in quick surreptitious movements.  We had just done one of those illicit hand touches when in walks her grandparents.  Like I said in the beginning, I had know Natalie's grandmother since grade school.  She knew me, but was surprised to see me in the office with her granddaughter.  She re-grouped quickly and invited me to dinner at her house after the office closed.  Natalie chimed in that we were going to spend the night at their house too.  This didn't seem to be a problem with them, but I felt awkward about it.

When we arrived for dinner I was disappointed to see Natalie's grandmother had made ham and beans with cornbread for dinner.  Judge me if you will, but I hate ham and beans.  I can only eat them with much ketchup.  I put this under one of my first missteps.  I ate the bowl put before me and didn't even ask for ketchup.  I did force down the cornbread too, but it was slathered in butter.  Natalie kept saying the meal was great and I would dutifully agree.  After dinner I even washed the dishes while Natalie dried and put them away. 

Years later I would have to convince Natalie  I loathed ham and beans. She would say she had seen me eat a whole bowl of the stuff at her grandmother's.  I told her, I was stupid in love and ate the bowl to be nice to her grandmother.  Also, I would have starved that night if I hadn't eaten and I needed the food.

We shocked Natalie's grandparents by going to bed at nine.  We were exhausted from the lack of sleep the night before.  Yet we managed to rally enough energy to quietly express our new feelings, but I know we were asleep in each others arms by 10:30.  New love is very exhausting.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Day 21: The Roller Coaster Ride

Working on these blog posts has been a bit of a strain to accomplish, but for me it has been a personal trip through my youth.  I am remembering things I have not thought of for many years.  I feel like I am mining for treasure, sometimes I find junk, and other times gemstones.  Okay, they are all gemstones for me. 

The morning after our first night together was full of both junk and gems.  Despite her hangover, Natalie had to work at her grandparents' real estate office that day.  She convinced me to get up and go with her.  I made her stop and picked up breakfast for us.  I bought two tomato juices and made her drink them both to help her feel better.  She dutifully did and told me it did help ease her hangover.  I don't really know if the tomato juice did make her better or she said it to make me feel like I being helpful. 

The real estate office was a small one room building in the parking lot of the Dutch Barn, a themed restaurant at Cuba, MO.  Work there for Natalie meant she answered the phone, which rarely rang, and took water bill payments.  Neither duty was particularly demanding, so she spent most of the day reading in a chair that chair now resides in our home.  However, this day she sat in that chair and read very little.  Instead she sat on the couch with me punch drunk from lack of sleep and giddy from the afterglow of our night together.  I was exhausted and was staying awake on pure force of will, but I did not want to look away from this beautiful woman who kept looking intently in my eyes.  We sat close together, but almost painfully did not touch in case someone came by the office. 

Once the wall of Natalie's reserved had been breached, she wanted to tell me all her secrets.  Her admissions of her past experiences was overwhelming in my sleep starved state.  She said she had always liked women, but we had to be careful.  When her mother had discovered her first relationship with another girl she had been sent to live with her grandparents in Cuba, MO.  The story about her first relationship was heartbreaking.  Knowing about her past only deepened my feelings for her.

Remembering that day, is like remembering a dream.  I was so tired I kept tripping over the same spot in the carpet every time I got up to go to the restroom.  Yet, I remember very clearly she kept saying to me, "I am ready to get back on that roller coaster."

I was so naïve, I had to ask, "What roller coaster?" 

After a few times of this exchanges, she told me, "Love."  In my exhausted mind I knew I was in love with her too.



Before our marriage in 2011, domestic partnership in 2003, and commitment ceremony in 1992, Natalie bound us together that day in 1985.  She was right it has been a roller coaster with all that entails.  There have been times when both of us have tried to get out off the track, but still we come back and know this is the ride we are suppose to be on.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Day 20: And Then it Happened

After Natalie fell asleep, I laid on the floor wishing I had kissed her.  I had been thinking about kissing her for awhile and tonight I had come so close and chickened out.  I kept telling myself she was too drunk and it would be wrong to take advantage of her.  I tried to take solace in doing the right thing, but it was cold comfort as I laid on the floor.

While I laid there fighting with my conscious I heard Natalie thrashing around and wake up.  She called out and I went to the bed to check on her.  I remember holding her and my heart aching to make her feel better.  I kept asking what was bothering her.

I don't know what caused her to finally unburden herself, but she said, "Mollie and I were more than just friends.  We were lovers."  I was a little surprised by the what she was saying.  I truly had no idea they had been more than friends.  Mollie had broken off their relationship at the end of summer and Natalie had been nursing a broken heart.  This information put a whole new light on so many of the things that I had seen.  I assured Natalie it did not change my feelings for her.  In fact it did change my feelings, it made me more driven to kiss her.

Natalie told me more about her relationship and why it failed.  As we talked the conversation moved to our friendship.  I can tell you my heart was racing and before I could stop myself I said, "I want to kiss you."

Natalie took the cue and tried to kiss me just as I moved away.  In the dark her lips only grazed the side of my ear.  Things became very awkward between us, but we continued to sit next to each other embracing.  I remember her hand searching for mine and I felt like I was melting from the inside out.  I finally, told Natalie I had no idea what to do.

Natalie said something which I will not repeat here and then she reached out to kiss me again and this time I did not turn away.  I can remember her lips being so soft on mine.  We did not sleep the rest of the night.  I can also say that twin sized bed of mine could not contain us, we ended up on the floor.  I made Natalie go back to the bed just before my parents got up and I can remember laying there on the floor about to burst with emotions.  To this day we still disagree if January 6th or January 7th is our anniversary.  I say the 7th because it was the wee hour of the morning on that date when we shared our first kissed.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Day 19: The Windmill

After her trip to Eminence Natalie spent the afternoon with me and we came up with a plan for our evening.  We decided to go get Debbie and go out to a local night club.  Okay, maybe night club is a polite way of saying bar.  Stanton, Missouri was and still is a tourist trap of a town which boasts the roadside attraction of Meramec Caverns.  Someone decided it would be the perfect place for a windmill themed restaurant.  On the weekend the restaurant bar cleared out a section of tables for a dance floor.  We were all over 18 and as long as we didn't try to order booze we could go there and dance.  Of course that also meant we would have to be doing our drinking before we got there.  We managed to get beer for Natalie and cheap wine for us.  By the time we got to the Windmill we were all a little buzzed.  I remember dancing and when they played Prince's "Go Crazy" all three of us got up and did just that.  We were loud and carefree forgetting about the rest of the world as we danced with abandon.

By the time they did last call none of us were sober.  I have said this before we were young women making poor choices.  We were lucky to make it home in one piece that night.  Natalie dropped Debbie off first and then was taking me home.  I was sober enough to know Natalie had no business driving any further that night.  It took some work on my part, but I convinced her to spend the night with me.   Part of me wanted her to stay because I wanted her with me and part of me was worried she wouldn't make it home in one piece.

I got Natalie past my parents bedroom and put her in my twin sized bed.  I could tell something was wrong and I kept trying to to let Natalie know it was okay.  I remember sitting next to her on the bed in the dark with my arm around her.  She wanted to talk and I knew I needed to listen to her.  After what seemed like an eternity she told me some of the things bothering her.  With her mind a little settled she finally laid down and went to sleep.  Once I thought she was asleep, I kissed her forehead and whispered, "Good night sweet prince," and went to lay on a palette I had made for myself on the floor of my bedroom.


The Stanton Windmill on Fire

One of the weirdest things about that night is The Windmill caught on fire sometime within the next year.  I tried to find a photograph of the building and only found one with it on fire.  I like to think it was all that wild energy we spent there that night just bounced around until it burned that building down.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Day 18: Parachute Pants

Into the excitement of my holiday break came the actual holidays.  Natalie actually left to go back east to see her mother and two sisters.  I was left to my family and missing Natalie.  When she returned from her holiday festivities she showed up wearing the height of 1980s fashions, parachute pants.  Someone had given her a pair for Christmas.  I can say I never wore parachute pants, but it was because no one ever bought them for me.  I am admitting to you and the rest of the blogosphere that seeing Natalie in those pants was what finally sent me over the edge.  I could not help myself.

Natalie had been gone for over a week and then one day out of the blue she showed up at my door in her new pants with a trendy multi-zippered vest on and she said she had just come from Eminence MO.  On a whim she had taken off in her car and drove on the roads less traveled and found herself in Eminence MO.  After Eminence she had come to see me.  I think my heart must have skipped a beat as she stood before me all wide eyed and beautiful.

It was a Sunday afternoon and my dad was home watching football.  He seemed uncomfortable with Natalie.  When she left the room he asked me if I thought she had really went to Eminence.  I saw the worried look in his eye.  I could only tell him if she said she had been somewhere I believed her.  I think that Sunday afternoon, I knew my feelings for her had moved beyond a crush to something deeper and more physical all because of those damned black parachute pants.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Day 17: What I did with My Winter Break

My winter break fell into a pattern of going out with Randy and sleepovers with Natalie.  Every time Natalie showed up I was surprised that this fun person wanted to spend time with me.  It was exciting and so was she.  I found I thought about her when she wasn't around and anticipated the next time we would be together.

One night I at her grandmother's we were asleep in Natalie's double bed. I woke up with her cuddled around me. I disengaged myself not really thinking anything about it.  Besides her bedroom was so cold, it was warmer when we slept close.  I did mention it to her the next day and she got very embarrassed.  She told me, did not remember doing that in her sleep.  Later Natalie told me she lied, she had wanted to hold me and pretended to be asleep.

Another time I was getting dressed and I turned around just in time to catch her watching me.  I know for a brief second I stopped and stared back.  She turned away laughing and said she was sorry.  I was so naïve then that I did not even give it a second thought. I found it heady to be spending so much time with someone who seemed to be interested in what I had to say.  Not only that but, Natalie made me laugh all my cares away.

Though I did not know it or give it a name, I was developing a crush on Natalie.  I had not thought about being a lesbian before, but over the years there had been attachments to some of my best friends.  Nothing had ever happened, but I had known my feelings were not normal best friend feelings.  I had learned to not talk about it because none of my other friends expressed these deep attachments for other girls.  It made me feel different and like I did not belonged with my peers. When I developed similar feelings toward Natalie, it just seemed the normal progression of a friendship for me.  Also, I could not imagine Natalie would reciprocate my feelings.  I truly was a very clueless young woman.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Day 16: Double Dating

My old classmates started returning from their first semesters away from Crawford County.  Even my old boyfriend, Randy, returned from his university in Texas.  I was excited to see him and catch up on everything that had happened to him in the wide world.  He seemed to be doing well and the joy in which he was taking in his new life was infectious.  Without much thought to it we fell into dating one another again.

I was not the only one falling into dating an old boyfriend.  Natalie had started seeing her old boyfriend too.  We even went on a few double dates together.  I remember lots of laughter when the four of us were together.  Natalie would often spend the night with me when we all went out.  It was great to be with everyone, but I felt so awkward when we went parking together.

Natalie and her guy were making out in the back seat of the car and Randy and I in the front.  Randy would watch what was going on behind us by looking in the rear view mirror.  I did not mind the making out stuff, but things were not going beyond that with an audience.  He had different ideas and I kept stopping his advances.  At some point I just had to stop everything and made the guys take us home.

I don't quite remember what I said to Natalie that night when we were in my room, but I do know I scolded her for giving Randy ideas. I know I told her I loved him.  I could see myself spending the rest of my life with him, but not right now while we were still in school.  I know, only a silly 18 year girl could think that would work out.  Natalie said she was not interesting in settling down, she just wanted to have fun. After we turned off the light we spent hours that night talking.  I poured out my heart to her and this time she could not tell if my nightgown was see-through. I think she listened or maybe she just laid there in the dark of my room wishing I would shut up so she could sleep. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Day 15: Riding Shot Gun

Today is the halfway mark for NABLOPOMO.  If you feel like we are not making progress, please be patient.  At this point in the story more is going on than our budding alcoholism. 

When I was a kid my siblings and I fought over who got to sit in the front passenger seat.  Shot gun was invented to end the ensuing shoving and fight over who got that coveted spot.  Whoever called "Shot Gun" first on the way to the car got the seat.  Much to my parents surprise this method did work and we rarely fought about the front seat again.

When I started running around with Natalie and Debbie, I did not ride shot gun.  Debbie had the front passenger seat.  I always rode in the back seat so I could hand up the tunes and pour libations. I didn't mind being in the back because I liked controlling the flow of music.  On the day after the sleepover we took Debbie home because she had to babysit, but after she was dropped off I moved up to the shot gun seat.  Natalie and I drove around for awhile until Natalie suggested we stopped by to see if Mollie was back from her first semester of school yet.  I was game because I really didn't have anything else better to do.

Mollie was home and I remember that she did not seem happy to see either of us on her doorstep.  Natalie asked her to come riding around with us.  Mollie came with us because she needed cigarettes and I remember when we approached the car, I felt the overwhelming urge to yell out, "Shot gun."  I controlled myself, but made a beeline for that front seat.  As soon as we were seated and ready to roll Natalie dug out her, Purple Rain tape and popped it in the tape deck. 



Natalie and I sang along and looked at each other and laughed over the songs.  When, "I Would Die 4 U," came on we sang together and included the accompanying hand signals pointing at each other on the "U."  I was not intentionally trying to make Mollie feel left out.  However, at one point I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the looks of displeasure she was giving Natalie.  I am sorry to say, a part of me did enjoy knowing for once I had something Mollie did not. I am not proud of that feeling, and in retrospect there was much more going on than I understood. We took Mollie to buy cigarettes and eventually back to her house.

Mollie asked to speak to Natalie and the two of them walked to her house.  Mollie made it clear I was not included in the invitation.  I sat in the car and watched what appeared to be an intense conversation.  When Natalie returned to the car, she was quiet and did not want talk about what had been said.  I let it alone.  Before I knew it I was home and Natalie on her way to her own home. 

The rest of the day I thought about the last twenty-four hours and the time I had spent with Natalie.  I wondered what had been said between her and Mollie.  I even wondered what she was doing while I was thinking about her.  I know that night before I fell asleep I thought again about Natalie and looked forward to seeing her again. Soon.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Day 14: Sleepover

After my first semester in college I came home to find a baby bed in my room and most of my stuff packed up.  My parents were in the throes of their first grand baby and since I wasn't home my room became the baby's room.  After a couple of days home I had not called or connected with any of my old friends, in fact I was already missing my collegiate life.

On the morning of my third day home I was awaken to Debbie and Natalie standing over my bed telling me to get up.  They were going to kidnap me for a sleepover.  I am not a morning person, so I am sure I was a little grumpy with the two of them.  Natalie refused to take no for an answer and rolled me out of bed and said pack a bag.  I wanted to take a shower, but Natalie refused to even let me brush my hair.  In a short amount of time the three of us were headed to Natalie's.

We did some aimless running around that day, but ended up at Natalie's grandmother's.  Natalie lived in an upstairs dormer room which was very sparse.  It had a bed, built in shelves and desk, a hope chest, and a space heater.  I remember the room being cold even when the space heater was on.

Once ensconced in the room we listened to the soundtrack of Purple Rain and looked at Natalie's collection of dirty magazines.  I must admit I was shocked to see that Natalie had her own collection of Penthouse, Hustler, and Playboy.  I had seen some of these magazines before in high school, but I had never meet a woman with her own collection.  I still don't know where she got these, but they were a couple of years old so I knew someone must have given them to her.  I know all three of us looked at them together and made speculations based on various photographs.  I was a little disgusted by some of the things I saw, but I seemed incapable of not to looking at them.

At one point Debbie threw one of the magazines and said, "I can't look at these anymore.  I want to hear my song."  She got up and changed the tape to Cyndi Laupers, "She-bop."  I remember Natalie and I laughing and laughing at her for her choice of songs. 



Natalie put Debbie and I in her bed to sleep and she made a pallet for herself on the floor.  As the evening got later Debbie went to bed and I found myself sitting on the floor talking to Natalie.  We had lit a candle and were talking about ourselves while Debbie muttered in her sleep.  Natalie told me about how she and Mollie had fallen out as friends.  I remember talking to her about my difficult relationship with my mom.  Natalie seemed to be hanging on my every word.  I thought here is someone who is listening to me and I really felt we connected that night.

As we talked I slowly and methodically ripped the hem out of my nightgown.  When I had packed my overnight bag I had accidentally thrown in one of my oldest nightgowns.  It was a little threadbare and I was not helping the old garment by removing the hem.  Natalie did not seem to mind my fidgeting with the hem as she listened to me.  For a long time I always felt this conservation was the point that I started having deeper feelings for Natalie.  I based it on how attentive Natalie had been when I shared my deepest self with her that night.

One day, many years later, when this topic came up Natalie explained to me that she was not really  beenpaying attention to what I was saying.  Apparently, during the whole conversation my threadbare nightgown was in fact not doing a good job of covering up my breasts.  She was in fact watching my heaving bosom very attentively.  I will also say one day that old nightgown disappeared from my drawer.  Though I have not seen it for years, I know if I dug through Natalie's hope chest I would probably find it hidden there.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day 13: Dancing on the Chairs Fueled by Tickle Pink

Going away to college was wonderful.  I threw myself into everything new and exciting.  I must have loved it because I only went home twice that semester and one of those times was Thanksgiving.  I even, and please don't judge me, joined a sorority.  Again please don't judge me too harshly, I kept up with none of my friends from home, I was trying to put four years of small town hell behind me.  I was a young woman enjoying all the new life experiences happening around me.

I can't remember if Natalie sent me a letter telling me she was going to be in town or if she just showed up at my dorm one Saturday afternoon.  She greeted me as if I was one of her favorite people on the planet.  She inserted herself into my new world wanting me to go drinking with her.  I was glad to see her, but I must admit it was weird to have her there enticing me away from my new life with two bottles of Boone's Farm Tickle Pink.

Natalie dated men when I meet her and when she came to my college it was with her new boyfriend in tow.  She introduced me to him as her best friend, James. The boyfriend's sister actually lived a few blocks away from the college and we went to the sister's house.  The boyfriend left us there drinking our cheap wine while he and his sister ran an errand.  Natalie and I talked about how our first semester at school was going.  Natalie seemed happy, she was on a ROTC scholarship and had meet her boyfriend in the program.  She was in the nuclear engineering program and was talking about all of the new people in her life.  I know I told her I had joined a sorority and had a dance that night.  We finished off one of the bottles and were moving on to the next one.  I think at one point a Prince song came on the radio and we climbed up on our chairs and danced.  Every time we looked at each other we started laughing hysterically. 

When I climbed off the chair I know I was buzzed and wondering if I was going to make it to my dance.  Natalie tired to get me to stay with her and skip the dance.  I apologized, but said I had a date and needed to get back to my dorm.  I could tell she was disappointed, but I knew if I stayed much longer I would be too drunk to make my date.  Her boyfriend showed up just in time to save me from that second bottle of Tickle Pink.

We went back to my college and Natalie walked me to my dorm.  She talked about seeing me after the end of the semester.  We hugged and each of us went back to our own post-high school life.  As soon as I got to my room I had to sober up and get ready for my date.  My evening plans eclipsed seeing Natalie.  I had just thrown so much of myself into this new existence, I was afraid to look backwards.  Again I asked you not to judge me too harshly, but I did not think of my friend Natalie for a long time after that day.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Day 12: Happy Birthday to My Beloved

Taking the day off from the epic saga of Natalie and I, because today is her birthday.  I know it is hokey and saccharine sounding to say, beloved, but I can't help myself.  According to the online dictionary beloved means, "past participle of beloven, to love : bi-, be- + loven, to love."  So beloven it is.

To celebrate I made reservations at a swanky urban eatery called Vin de Set (http://vindeset.com/).  The place is a rooftop restaurant with a deck view of downtown St Louis, which is probably better on a warmer night for the deck.  A friend gave us a good review of the place and I thought it would be a nice location for something special.  It seemed like a plan.

Fall 1985
I imagined a romantic setting with fancy food and we were not disappointed.  From the fromage section we each chose a cheese.  Natalie picked the Cotswold and I decided on one called Prairie Breeze.  The cheese board came with grapes, cranberries, hummus, tapenade, and mustard.  I think we could have just eaten on that and a dessert and left the restaurant stuffed.  We just kept telling each other how yummy dinner was.  Our entrees of fish and scallops were also very tasty.   Dinner was pricey, but for my beloved on her birthday it was a perfect evening.  We will definitely go there again for another special occasion. How far we have come from those two young women of almost three decades ago.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Day 11: Purple Rain



On the last night of our summer together Natalie, Debbie, and I went to see Purple Rain.  We managed a couple of bottles of cheap wine and were feeling pretty buzzed by the time we got to the movie theatre.  Again, in that misspent summer I made some poor choices and being as excited as I was to see Prince in Purple Rain falls into that category.

Sorry No Buttons
Once the film started we were those loud, obnoxious, teenage girls that no one wants to sit by.  I remember the film being full of music, boys in make-up, and lots of frilly white shirts.  At some point in the movie Natalie who was on my right leans over and whispers in my ear, "I love all those buttons."  I started laughing and Debbie just kept asking what was so funny.  People kept giving us that be quiet stare.  I was surprised we weren't thrown out for our rude behavior.   I wish I could apologize to the other people in the theatre that night.

We came out of the theatre high on all the music and purpleness of the film singing "Darling Nikki," on our way to the car.  During the drive home we finished off our wine and talked about Prince's buttons on his pants.  We loved the music and Natalie said she was going to buy the cassette tape as soon as she could.  It was a good night.

When Natalie dropped me off we all got out of the car and hugged promising to see each other over Christmas.  I stumbled up the hill and fell asleep dreaming about buttons.  I know I should have missed my friends when I went away to college.  I don't know that I did, college was exciting and my new life consumed me.  However, every time I heard, "Purple Rain," I thought of that night and smiled.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Day 10: Drinking the Summer Away

After that night at the fair my last few weeks before going away to college followed a pattern.  I worked at my summer job during the day and in the evening I would find myself riding around with Natalie and Debbie.  They would show up with alcohol and we would go to the convenience store I worked at to get ice and cups.  Natalie drove, she was the only one of us with a car.  Debbie sat in the front passenger seat of the car, and I was in the back seat preparing and refreshing our drinks.  We would drink Boone's Farm, Riunite wine, or whatever booze we could get our underage hands on.

Once we had everything we needed we would drive around on the gravel roads which crisscrossed Crawford County.  After awhile one of them would shout out, "JAMS, JAMES!"  I would grab Natalie's tape case and pull out a random cassette and we would sing along at the top of our lungs to Prince, Joan Jett, or Cyndi Lauper..  After the bottle was empty Natalie would take us home. 

The house I grew up in sat on a hill and Natalie always dropped me off at the bottom.  Drunk and hoarse I would roll out of the back seat and crawl up the hill.  The two of them would laugh at my careening trek up the driveway.  Once inside I would sneak past my family and go to my room, passing out in a drunken stupor.  I can't imagine drinking like this now, or getting in a car with someone else drinking like that and driving.  We were young and stupid and life seemed endless to us.

When Natalie kept showing up to my house, a part of me was happy to have someone else to spend time with.  The fact that she had a car was an added bonus.  I promised to be honest and there was one more incentive.  Natalie had been claimed by Mollie as her best friend and apparently more than I knew at the time.  By my senior year I was not a fan of Mollie and spending time with her supposed best friend gave me a vindictive thrill.  I know that is not a nice thing to admit, but I was 18 and not the person I am today. 

Regardless of the reasons, spending those late summer nights with Natalie and Debbie were some of the best times I ever had in Crawford County. We would laugh and talk about our future.  Natalie and I were going to start college soon, and Debbie was looking for a full time job.  We were three young women waiting for out lives to begin.  We were just really lucky that we didn't drive off those gravel roads and kill our silly selves. 


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Day 9: Can We Talk

In that summer of misspent youth one night my friend, Debbie I went to the annual Crawford County fair.  We thought we were being very sneaky by walking around with Tupperware sippy cups filled with Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill.  About a sippy cup and a half into the evening we ran into Natalie and some of her friends from high school.  We stood under a tree for awhile just doing the usual loud, ruckus, teenage stuff.  I remember laughing, swearing, and finishing my cheap wine.  As the conversation rolled through the usual pop cultures references of the time we started in on Joan Rivers.
 
I hate admitting that once upon a time I thought Joan Rivers was funny.  Before all the plastic surgery and designating herself as the fashion police she was just wickedly funny.  Once Joan came up in conversation Natalie and I both said at exactly the same time, "Can we talk?"  We looked at each other, pointed at each other, and then laughed like loons.  That was the moment we connected and spoke each others language for the first time.   Every friendship has to start somewhere, and ours started in that moment. Blame it on the wacky 80s, but I have to thank Joan Rivers for Natalie.


So thank you Joan for giving Natalie and I the opening line to our relationship.  Who knew from this beginning we would be together 30 years later and celebrating the fact that 16 states have approved of same-sex marriage.  Welcome to the family of equality Hawaii.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Day 8: Freebird

I can describe my summer before college as 3 months of misspent youth.  Much of my time I ran around with one of my oldest friends, Debbie.  One night we went to a concert at Leasburg MO.  I think calling it a concert is a polite way of not calling it a drunken brawl.  Many of my former classmates were there.  All of us had been drinking more than any of us should.  One of the guys was standing next to me one moment and the next he was face down in the dirt.  I can remember thinking we were all in bad shape.

While we were picking up our friend up from the ground a car pulled up and out popped Natalie with my cousin.  They had just come from Six Flags and were ready to party.  They joined our revelry and started drinking with us.  I asked them where Mollie was and both of them said she was spending the summer in Michigan with a brother.  In the end I don't remember much more that evening, but that the band played "Freebird," and we danced to the very last chord.

The next day I woke up woozy and blurry headed, but I remembered Natalie being with us.  I also thought it was nice to spend time with her and not have Mollie around.  I also thought next time I needed to drink less.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Day 7: Ready to Rumble

High School is this crazy microcosms of life.  Every event is magnified to the height of drama for maximum emotional effective.  My high school was small enough that everyone was a part of the daily serial.  Nothing could tempt me to repeat those 4 tormented years of my life.  My senior year was exceptionally difficult.  I was trying to get into college, find ways to pay for college, and navigating the usual obstacles which challenge most young women. 

Natalie and I did not socialize much outside of Speech Meets.  She spent most of her time with Mollie and to make sure no one knew they were a couple Natalie even dated one of my classmates.  Mollie, in fact, was hot in pursuit after one of my cousins.  Throw into that my best friend was also in pursuit of the same said cousin and much mean girl posturing ensued.  Mollie even went as far as to make it known Natalie was going to beat my friend up.  If you know Natalie, you know how silly a statement that is.  Like I said, much drama.

One night my best friend and I were driving around, and yes we were drinking, her quite a bit, and who do we run into, but Mollie and Natalie.  I knew this encounter was not going to go over well.  My friend was all drunk and aggressive, Mollie acted like the victim in this drama, and Natalie was clueless as to what was happening.  All I could do was keep my friend moving and get her out of there as quickly as possible.  I wanted this crisis averted and fast. As we were almost out the door, I turned around and saw the look of anger on Natalie's face.  Once again I had that feeling that here was a person I would never be friends with.  I chalked it to one of the causalities of living in a small county.  One day soon I would be far from Crawford County and none of this silliness would matter, I thought. How wrong I was.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Day 6: Hung-over

In high school I dated a guy from Natalie's school.  He was in a play and I went to the cast party with him.  As was often the case at these events much alcohol was consumed (much).  I came home that night drunk. Drunk enough I spent most of the ride home trying to get over my date to get sick out the window.  It was not pretty.

The next day we had a Speech Meet at my school.  I dragged myself there getting sick on the way to school.  Everyone seemed to know I had imbibed to much the night before and I was the laughing stock of the team.  I did deserve it, too.  Between events I went to the restroom to be close to the toilets.  I was on the floor with my head in the toilet when Natalie walked in.

I can remember wanting to die and all she could do was tell me she had done the make-up for the play the night before.  I wanted her to go away, but she continued to tell me she never wore make-up, but loved doing it for the play.  I know I looked like death warmed over, but she just kept talking to me as nothing was awry. She did not even ask what had happened or why I was sick.  I was relieved when she finally left me to my misery.

I have to say, anyone who can fall in love with someone after seeing her with her head in a toilet is worthy of much love.  Either that or Natalie was use to seeing people hung-over.  Or worse yet maybe she never noticed I was about ready to toss my cookies right there in front of her.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Day 5: Speech Dorks, Part II

First, I want to thank the great state of Illinois for passing same-sex marriage equality.  Now I can see same-sex equality every time I look across the Mississippi River.

Back to the saga, of Jamie and Natalie, or Speech Dorks in action.  Over the summer to my senior year I broke up with Randy, which was sad.  Randy worked hard to still be my friend, but I did not make it easy on him.  I started my senior year with one thought in mind to getting the hell out of Crawford County.  The one thing I actually looked forward to that year was my final year on the Speech Team.  I went to my first meet with high expectations for a good season. As soon as I showed up for the first round of Duet Acting there was Natalie ready to perform with her acting partner.  I pasted on my glad to see you face and thought, "Well, guess she didn't go away."

Senior Picture, Fall 1983

Natalie for her part was glad to see a familiar face and prattled on about practicing opening a pack of cigarettes for her role as Becky in "Bad Habits" by Terrance McNally.  She kept laughing about how that was the easiest thing to do because she smoked.  I stayed to watch her performance and was surprised by how funny Natalie could be.  The character she played was a very feminine, very vain woman, so against type for Natalie. I must admit a part of me was giving Natalie a second look for friend potential.

Later that day I went into the gym to regroup with my teammates, but found only Natalie and Mollie on the bleachers.  Mollie was asleep with her head on Natalie's knee.  Natalie was stroking her hair.  My heart sank a little because Mollie and I were not good friends.  Mollie had obviously staked a claim to a friendship with Natalie and I knew I had missed my chance to get to know Natalie better.  Accepting the situation, I sat down next to them and started chatting.  Later Natalie would tell me how I had surprised them and they could not believe I was so clueless to what was going on.  I must admit I kind of was clueless.  Natalie also told me she was annoyed that I showed up and ruined their private moment.  I think about how on those bleachers Natalie's present and future were right there within her reach, if only we had known.  However, had we known maybe things would have turned out different, fate is tricky that way.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Day 4: Not a Stellar Start


I did not like high school, but of my 4 years trapped in that institution of learning my junior year was the best of a bad lot.  I fell in love with a boy named Randy.  The year was hearts, flowers, and learning the periodic table. I was not the only one falling in love.  Unbeknownst to anyone else Natalie was also in deep with one of my classmates, Mollie.  I knew Mollie fairly well, we ran with the same crowd, the nerd crowd. 
 
Once a year Mollie would have a bonfire at her house and all the nerds would converge on her backyard.  This year Natalie was also there and it really was one of the first times I interacted with her in a social setting.  I noticed immediately she was aloof and sharp tongued, not someone I felt comfortable around.
 
Our group had a habit of playing spin the bottle whenever we were together with no adults around.  Not long after the s'mores were eaten the bottle came out and Mollie said, "You know who I want to kiss," to the bottle and spun it with a flourish.  I don't remember who got picked first, but I do remember at one point in the game Mollie's spin landed on Natalie and they jokingly kissed each other.  I did not think anything about it.  I was too busy kissing the boys gathered around the bonfire.  I went home that night smelling like a campfire and with chapped lips.
 
Later in the school year I had a birthday party for Randy at my house.  We were on the cusp of technology with a rented VCR and the film Poltergeist as the entertainment.  My parents had left for awhile and all of my friends had come to celebrate and watch movies.  Natalie showed up with Randy's best friend, Sean.  The two of them came in snapping at one another and slamming doors.  Everyone got very quiet as Sean and Natalie continued to fight with one another.  At one point they even went into my parents room and appeared to be deep in discussion.  Natalie came out of the room and threw herself into one of our living room chairs taking out a pack of cigarettes.  "Can I smoke?" She asked.  I did not want to make her madder so I said yes and got her an ashtray.  My parents came home just in time to see Natalie smoking a cigarette in their non-smoking house. I had some explaining to do after she left.
 
Through out that year I would run into Natalie, but I found her too blunt and cutting to be someone I wanted to spend much time with.  On the last day of the school year our group got together and she was there. I don't remember being excited to have her there. We went to a local park and did the usual misspent youth thing of loitering and telling dirty jokes.  We all started talking about our summer plans.  Natalie told us she was going to spend the summer with her mother in Maryland.  I know my ears pricked up.  Maryland seemed like a an exotic place to me, the girl who had spent most of her life stuck in mid-Missouri.  She even said that her mother was going to try to get her to move back, at the time Natalie lived with her grandparents.   A part of me hoped that her mother succeeded and I never saw this girl again, after all she had ruined my boyfriend's birthday.  Not that I was holding a grudge or anything, not me.  At the end of the night I went home without a thought about Natalie and my lips were chapped from kissing Randy in the park.
 
Postscript:  Years later Natalie would confess to me that she and Sean were playing a joke on us.  They were only pretending to fight.