Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hello, are you me?

"Do I know you?" "I mean, have we met before?" "I don't think so" I answer, pulling my tie-in- the-back robe more securely around me. She squints one eye and bites her bottom lip like one does when she's trying to recall where she might have left something important and then tells me that she will be back in a moment. Before the door has completely shut it opens again and she leans in, hand still on the door handle. "Are you famous?" she asks, eyes wide. "No" I answer in my best I'm not at all flattered voice. "Hmm" she breaths rather defeatedly as she again pulls the door closed. Moments later she returns and apologizes for her false sense of familiarity, "Sorry about that, it's just that I swear I know you from somewhere." I wonder if this is how an amnesiac feels I think to myself, knowing I have never seen this person before in my life.

When I was a kid I dreamt of having a twin. We would have rhyming names and wear coordinating outfits. Her side ponytail would be on the left and mine on the right. All the other kids would want to be us because we would have two of everything. Two trampolines, two playhouses, two pink canopy beds with the little stair steps to help you up to the super fluffy bedding. We would fake out the adults by taking turns skipping out of Sunday school and dentist appointments. Oddly enough, the adults in these scenarios never knew I had a twin. I would always be the good twin and she, the bad. I think I must have based these fantasies on some after school special or Saturday summer movie I saw at the public library, because my only other source of reference would have been Lisa and Leslie, or as I fondly remember them, Tandem Evil.

Lisa and Leslie lived a couple of blocks down from us and I only remember playing with them once or twice. Both times there were incidents. The first was when they blamed their spilled red Kool-aide on the little brother of the other girl who was playing with us. "Who spilled this?" the mother asked. "He did it" Lisa replied with her arm as straight as a fire poker and the tip of her index finger only inches away from the little boys chest. "Uhh hu, he did it" Leslie chimed in, with a tight-lipped nod. It happened so fast, nobody had anytime to react. The mother sighed a pissed off sigh and told us all to go play outside. The second time, I don't remember who the unfortunate victim was only that she was left, whimpering in a half squat, half kneeling position with her long trusses tied to a door knob. Lisa and Leslie laughing their blond heads off as they skipped happily away. I don't remember my reaction to this; I would like to think that I helped the poor girl, or tried to right the injustice by standing up to the two pint sized bullies, but in all reality I was probably what we consider today to be a bystander and only followed the two (for my own protection) down the stairs.

Funny that these, being my real life experiences with twins, I would ever have wanted to be one. But, like I said, in my head, I would be the good one and she would be the evil one. And as it turns out, I do (apparently) have a twin out there. On average the Do I know you scenario happens about once a week. And just this past week twice, at the gym. The gatekeeper at the front swore my member number didn't match the name he typed into the computer. When I asked him to make sure he spelled Hello correctly, he questioned me, "Your last name is Hello?" His typing tempo slowed down considerably and I was just about ready to go into my standard shtick about how I know it's weird and a lot like the Abbott and Costello Who's On First Routine, when he interrupts me with, "No, it's not that, it's just that there's this other member here who looks just like you." "Really, it's crazy how much y'all look alike" he says in a tone that makes me think he's not sure I'm being straight with him.

And then again, a couple of days later, a trainer approaches me in mid crunch to ask me how far I had run. "Oh, I don't run" I replied thinking, erroneously, that she had mistaken my legs for those of a top form sprinter or long distance martyr. "Oh, sorry, I thought you were Jennifer. You two could be twins" she said as she backed up looking around to see where my mirror image could have gone.

So now, I search for her. I go daily and scour the elliptical machines for something that I think I might recognize. I look for traces of myself in the girl working out beside the lockers and then again in the woman on the mat in the back. Will I recognize her if I see her? And what is it that I'll see? Do others see us as we see ourselves? Will I think she's pretty? Will I think she looks young or see her as a thirty eight year old mom type. What exactly is it that we have in common? Is it a specific feature? A smile? Hair color? Or is it more general, a resemblance in our build or carriage?

I've told the gatekeeper to alert me if she's ever there when I'm there. I want to meet her. I want to see if she thinks we look alike. I want to take her to lunch and see if she's the evil one.

Anatomy of a Friendship

Because, once a year is never enough. It's that time again.

There were no tears at graduation. We were confident that we would keep up with each other and be just as much involved as we had been over the last two years of our lives together. In what seems like the blink of an eye (19 years) we had married, traveled, settled and had children. We had lived thousands of miles apart and at times only a stones throw away from one another. Yet we had never so much as sent a wedding announcement or birth announcement to one another. I had no idea whether we would have remained the same or morphed in ways that would render us unrecognizable.

We found each other a few weeks ago. After sorting through my 'junk mail' I came across the school newsletter. My heart raced as I read the updates of my two best friends from back in the day. They were looking to find us again. It was only minutes before we were on the phone planning our re-connect.

Our friendship was born out of circumstance. In its most embryonic state the ties that would bind us were those of survival. At fifteen and sixteen years of age we were not completely weaned. Still wet behind the ears and on unfamiliar terrain we would need to learn to exist without the proximity of our natural families. I needed someone to provide the essentials for survival... a sense of nurture, belonging and protection. I found these elements in two girls.
To say we liked one another or got along would be too simplistic; we relied on each other. As study partners, counselors, and confidants our friendship grew from a state of necessity to a more evolved state of shared experiences and occasions, now considered memories. We played and partied together, strengthening our bond and discovering cosmic commonalities. Three Scorpios destined to share a sense of humor and an outlook on life. More often than not when reading the 'shout-outs' from other classmates in our yearbook we are referred to as one. A solid unit. "M, C, & S....let's keep in touch." As if we were connected at the hip.

So this past week, with six children among us, we assembled only to discover that we still had more in common than not. I worried that my children would cling to one another or worse yet, to me, unable to make friendship on demand or on such short notice. Amazingly, our children played together in what can only be described as harmony. They collected oodles of doodle bugs, explored, created works of art and conspired in mutual naughtiness. At one point emptying an enormous bowl of popcorn, kernel by kernel on to the living room floor and dancing it into the carpet. With our best mommy faces on we wrangled them to see who was the ring leader. They stood solid, no one would rat out the other.

One by one we departed and soon I was back to my reality. At home, a wife and a mom. A familiar and comfortable environment but with an unidentifiable feeling. It was something I had experienced before-way back in the day-it was homesickness. The feeling will ease and in the meantime we will invent ways to come together again soon.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Who Knew??

Four girls, a bottle of wine and Mr. Big. That was the game plan for Tuesday night. I knew I would need moral support if Carrie was rejected by him yet again. I was hoping against common sense that they would somehow end happily ever after, I needed them to. After the movie, we decided to go somewhere where we could do what comes naturally after such an event....vent. Four dwindled to three and we sat and talked, no topic untouched. If there had been a soundtrack to that part of the evening it would have been Pussycat Dolls "I Don't Need A Man". But as usual, the conversation turned to us. Three moms, three friends, brought together by the men we did (evidently) need. We all had more in common with Carrie than we had thought. We all had a Big in our lives, yet in the real world, tigers don't change their stripes and men that can't commit, well, they can't commit, at least not to us. So we had all picked another cat that could and while totally satisfied with our choices, we all like to talk about our illustrious pasts. Even though they didn't end the way we thought they might back in the day. And the movie industry feels obligated to tie it all up with a big pink bow in the end, because, we need them to. We needed Carrie and Big to be together in the end. It just looks prettier. The soundtrack to this part of the evening...Pink's "Who Knew".

So as the Husband headed off today for his equivalent of my Tuesday night, I was a little...hmmm, how can I put this delicately??? Pissed. That's right, I said pissed and you want to know why? Well for one, I'm pretty sure that the guys don't sit around and analyze their relationships. In fact, I don't think they discuss their families at all. I know because I've asked. "So, how's so and so's new baby?" "I don't know, we didn't discuss that." Another, I bet they don't spell out their more colorful vocabulary as we do -totally out of effing habit. And thirdly, while it is totally permissible for them to drink hard alcohol diluted only with water and brandish firearms without fear of stigma, we are totally living on the edge as we order another glass of wine to wash down the garden burger we just ate on a single bun. If there is a soundtrack to their night of stink, I bet it's "Just Good Ole Boys" from the Dukes of Hazard.

So, just to make myself feel a bit better, before he left for his overnight boy party of what can only be imagined as farts and lies, I composed a little note and stuffed it into a pair of his boots.

Dear Daddy,
Have fun killing the innocent little birdies tonight. You are our hero. We look up to YOU Daddy. Does this mean Mommy can finally take us to the circus this year?
Jacqueline and Salem

Now, not so pissed.

Moose Coming May 27th!!