Listography! (1)

I am creating a listography. Very slowly, but I am creating it. It is a biography in list format, and there are some lists suggested by the Listography book, but I am making up my own list topics because, well, because I am me.

I find it hard to concentrate on the listography, difficult to come up with an all-encompassing list of my life on a certain topic. But I am trying… and here is my first attempt that I have worked on for a couple of weeks. This is my list of most memorable moments spent with friends.

A few notes:

  • I tried to narrow it to ten, so, of course, ended up with 15.
  • In chatting with an acquitance recently, he pointed out that it was bad form to write about a person on one’s blog without getting that person’s permission. SO, I have just used first initials – tricky! It makes it unlovely text, but I definitely do not want to impinge on anyone’s privacy.
  • This list is heavy on recent experiences, because I have forgotten so much. One of the things with the Listography I am going to do, is add something to each of the running lists each year. So, when I turn 35, I will add a most memorable moment to this list from my 34th year.
  • I highly recommend making this list – it takes a lot of time, but reminded me of so many great times and great people.

(list 60) 15 Most Memorable Times Spent With Friends (in chronological order)

  1. Watching the Jazz Singer with L. L and I were friends as babies – our moms were friends when I was first born and L was adopted. We remained friends after her mom died. We even were in the same school for a couple precious years. My friend L and I were a study in contrasts. She was tall and exotically beautiful. I was short and beige. She cared lots for sports and little for academics. I lived for academics and dreaded gym class. She had a bevy of loud siblings. I am an only child. She loved adventure and pushing the limits. I liked to sit quietly. Despite all that, we were friends. I loved going to her house – it was just so different from mine. Both of our houses were full of love, but the love in her house came through the doors singing and dancing. Her father especially was a wonderful enigma to me. He was going a mile a minute – entertaining his kids and me every single second – making every moment fun. And her stepmom was the embodiment of warmth – she devoted her life to all of her kids – they had seven at last count – stepkids, biological kids, and adopted kids. Leslie was always trying to get some peace from her family – but we were always interrupted by a younger sibling – most notably when one of them got stuck in the dumb waiter in their house. The most memorable experience I had with L and her family was when we watched the Jazz Singer. It was broadcast on network television, and it was an event for the family. L.’s dad loved Neil Diamond and I was invited over for a sleepover and to watch it with them. It was great – all of them sang along with the songs at top voice. And after my inhibitions broke down, I sang and danced with L. It was the best. To this day I can’t hear a Neil Diamond song without thinking of L and her amazing family.
  2. Listening to INXS with T. My friend T and I became friends because we lived closely and both were from different worlds then our Platte County schoolmates – she was from North Jersey and I was from midtown – both “foreign” worlds to a lot of kids at PMS (Parkville Middle School). We were friends in junior high and we grew apart in high school when we joined different social groups. She became one of the pretty people – and deservingly so – she was beautiful inside and out. Even after we separated ways and she was dating the gorgeous captain of the soccer team, we still would talk and say hello – she was always kind. In junior high, we both developed an obsession for INXS. I remember happily one summer afternoon spent in her bedroom with the tape liner notes of INXS’s Kick. We memorized the lyrics to all of the songs – even the one where everyting rhymed with “ate”. I saw T at my 10-year high school reunion. She ended up being just as wonderful an adult as she was a teenager. And she is a lesbian newscaster in Tennessee. Go figure.
  3. Bike Riding to the Grocery Store with G. G was my close friend all through grade school. We met in pre-preschool (seriously, that is what the “grade” was called), and remained friends until my parents and I moved to Platte County when I was in the sixth grade. Actually, we remained friends a little after that. G was perfect. She made straight As, had a sweet and unimposing personality, was very skilled athletically, didn’t eat anything that wasn’t healthy, and had long, shiny, bouncy hair. It was good for me to have a friend like G early in life – I am competitive still, but having a friend who was better at absolutely everything (save cracking a joke) curbed my competitiveness early in life. I *finally* learned to ride a bike when I was 14. After learning to ride a bike, I spent a weekend with G at her mom’s home at 63rd and Brookside. One afternoon we took our bikes to the grocery store in Brookside. I was so proud of myself for completing the ride, and felt a sense of freedom that I had not felt before. I grew up at 67th and Paseo (one of the reasons I didn’t ride a bike), so I hadn’t had the typical experience of a lot of kids of heading out to the neighborhood on my own or with friends, so the trip to the grocery store was new and wonderful. At the grocery store we bought sugary sweet sodas (I think this was an act of rebellion on G’s part) and talked about the “good old days” of grade shool. It was great – a transition point from being a kid to being a teenager. A few weeks later we repeated the adventure, riding our bikes from my house to downtown Parkville. This was a much more strenuous trip – even perfect G had to walk her bike up one of the hills. I would give a lot to know what G is up to now. The last time I saw or spoke to her was when I attended her high school graduation.
  4. Improving. In high school I was in an improv drama group through a local social service agency. It is complicated to explain, but essentially we traveled to schools, camps, and churches doing dramatic and comedic improv in front of other kids to open up dialogue about tough teen issues. No, seriously. We were a small but dedicated group. You become close friends when you are doing something so personal together – because we were acting about dysfunctional families, drug use, suicide, bullying, and every other tough topic imaginable, we could talk to each other about anything. And we did. I helped and was helped by all of those kids a lot. The one thing that so many teenagers don’t have – an outlet to discuss the crud that happens in adolescence, I had in abundance. We didn’t hang out together except for during performance or rehearsals, but we were a little minigang in high school, we all wore the same black t-shirts on performance days. One skit we always did was acting out a family that was having problems – based on some psychological theory that I have forgotten – that family members all fulfill a role to keep the family unit intact. We started referring to each other in school by those role names, as in “Hey, Scapegoat”. “What up Joker?” It was fun to be part of a gang.
  5. Flashing T. Most of my high school evenings were spent at the Main Street Theater in Platte City, as a devoted member of the Flat Busted Players (yes, I see the oxymoronic quality of that), I was involved in almost every play put on – one a month. I acted, directed, and even sang once. It was my thing for many years. And always doing that thing with me was my friend T. He was four years younger than me, but we bonded quickly – the theater produces very close friendships. We share a wicked sense of humor and love of being on stage. We spent hours on the dilapidated green room couch in full melodrama stage costume and makeup taking turns trying to make the other one crack up.

    One month, we did a spoof play of different movie genres at the theater, and there was a scene in the play where I “flash” the James Bond –type character, distract him and then steal the diamonds. I remember the line to this day: “What do you think of this agent 90210?” Then flash. He goggles, drops the diamonds, and I steal them. Excellent theater. Anyway, every night of the show I would wear a sillier and sillier outfit under the trench coat (all that the audience would see) in order to get him to lose it. He kept his composure every night except for one. I wore a bikini and had spirit gummed fake black curly hair all over my chest and stomach. He lost it. I was washing spirit gum off myself for days – but it was totally worth it.

    T and I still remain in contact sort of through his mother, who still lives in the area – I have seen him grow up – I have seen him go through many stages in life. I miss him very much.

  6. Courtwarming. In my bid to go to at least one high school dance with a date, I asked a boy to courtwarming dance my senior year (we ended up going to prom together also). In a bid to save me from myself, I asked my friend L to double date with us. L is the perfect friend in a pinch like this. She is up for anything – will help a friend through any situation. The courtwarming dance was fun, and L normalized it for me. Kept the conversation going, made sure everybody was laughing and comfortable. And in an act that I will always be indebted to her for, fixed my dress when the back zipper broke. Blech. Courtwarming was representative of all the things L has done for me. She was there for me when I found out my boyfriend cheated on me, helped me plan and execute my thirtieth birthday parties, and helped me create my wedding favors when my to-do list was exponentially horrible. She and I don’t see each other much, and we have never been best friends, but she is always there for me when I need her – and I hope someday to pay back to her everything she has done for me. It is rare to find a friend that you can always ask for help – L is definitely one of those friends – she is always willing to help and doesn’t judge weakness.
  7. Crying in front of APO. This one is memorable, but not in a good way. My first semester at college was spent at a competitive woman’s college in Virginia. I had picked the college early in my high school career because of their mailed propoganda, excellent biology and philosophy programs, and small class sizes. And I thought it would be da bomb to not have to worry about the complexities of boys in college classes. Early in the semester I realized two important things about myself: 1) Academically, I could hang in an east coast college with Precious and Muffy who graduated from private east coast high schools. 2) I am a midwesterner through and through.

    So, with humility I switched to Drake University for the spring semester of my freshman year. I liked being close to my family and boyfriend, and being in lovely, friendly, perfectly Midwestern Des Moines, but I found myself in a very familiar situation – I had no friends. My roomate (a sophomore) hated me because I had moved in, crushing her dream of having a single room, and she was the only person I knew on campus. Classes were big and the greek system seemed to be king. And the few people on campus who weren’t in the greek system already had bonded for life with their friends met in the first semester, when I was in Virginia. They didn’t have room or inclination for new friends – especially one who was overweight, socially akward, and didn’t drink (I was allergic!). Oy vey. I walked to every class alone. Ate every meal alone. Went shopping alone. Went to the movies by myself. It sucked. I tried a new tact – I joined a group called Alpha Phi Omega, essentially a service organization. I went to the meetings and the volunteer activities. Everybody was nice enough, but I never broke through to be their friends outside of group activities. And then there was the fateful night. At an APO committee meeting (yes, we were HUGE nerds, I will go ahead and say that), I started crying. In front of a dozen people, I started lamenting the fact that I didn’t have any friends, and I didn’t know what to do about it, and that I thought joining this group would help, but it hadn’t. It was horrible. 15 years later, I still shudder to think about it. They all stared at me and all being exceedingly kind, tried to comfort, in the best way possible, a crazy stranger. Several of them vowed to start inviting me to things and hang out with me. Oh, yes, it was horrible.

    But, it ended up working, in a way. A few of the people in the room started inviting me to things out of pity or fear. Maybe they wanted their conscience clean if I ultimately offed myself or dropped out of school. And as they got to know me, some realized I wasn’t the hugest freak ever and started to like me. And three of them became some of my best friends at college – even through our senior year, nearly forgetting my moment of shame. It truly was a humiliating event. But don’t judge until you have eaten every meal by yourself for three months in a row in a cafeteria full of people laughing and joking, not able to go back to your room because the person there despises you. I am proud to say that since then I have not once had to make friends by pleading or crying and I don’t think it ever will come to that again. Knock on wood.

  8. Shoe Shopping with S. My friend S and I went to Minnesota on a school break. S and I had a complicated friendship. He could be very cruel, but at times we had a lot of fun together. Instead of going home one fall break, we decided to hang out in Minneapolis. That trip was surreal, recently S had come out of the closet, so he was going through a lot, and I had ended a long-time relationship with my high-school boyfriend. So we went shoe shopping. I had long-coveted a pair of Doc Martens (what can I say, it was college), so we spent all of our extra money on a pair each. I LOVED them. I looked at my feet constantly. The new shoes really lightened both of our loads for a bit, as the right new pair of shoes can do. I still have those shoes – I would never give them up because they remind me of S and college and Minneapolis.
  9. Dinner with P. In my mid to late 20s, I was terribly alone. I had a few close friends in college, but all of them lived in Chicago or Iowa. There weren’t people to meet at work, most of them were married or already had a set of fabulous friends – and I was sort of akward anyway – the sort of person one might make fun of with one’s set of fabulous friends. This feeling of friendlessness was a familiar one to me; I had experienced it off and on since my earliest memories.

    During this time, P joined my team at work. Like me, her life was a little at a loose end. She had moved to Kansas City for work. We both had a biting sense of humor that we hid from the world – a product of existing on the fringes of personal connection. We became friends through talking about work and going out for dinner or movies occassionally. One night I invited her over for dinner at my house. I remember the sense of anticipation as I prepared for her to come over. Something that is very normal for lots of people – a friend coming over – was a complete anomaly to me. I felt so grown-up, so lucky, to have someone coming over to visit me. I had a friend. To this day, I try to take a moment and appreciate the thrill, the luck of having friends whenever I am about to meet a friend for something. Now my life is full of friends, and having someone who wants to hang out with me still is a precious thing. And my current streak of good luck all started with dinner with P.

  10. Shopping for Books with E. One evening after dinner, E and I decided to go to the bookstore and play a game. Here were the rules:
    1. You must pick out five books for a serious new persona and five books for a funny new persona for the other person playing the game.
    2. The recipient of the new persona must buy one book from each category – one serious and one funny.
    3. You have an hour to pick out the books

    It was a great time. It was fun to imagine a whole new life – something completely different for myself. And it was a blast because E’s unique sense of humor and outlook on life always makes hanging out with him fun – no matter what we are doing. I don’t remember all the books or the personas – I wish I would have written them down! But I do remember I got a book on learning Italian. If you have an hour and a willing friend, I HIGHLY recommend doing this.

  11. Joining the Stadium Club. My friend M and I got season tickets to the Royals a few years ago – we both love baseball. As new season ticket holders, we were invited to have lunch with our Royals Lancer at the stadium club so that we could consider membership. We snuck out of work for a long lunch and met Dr. Bob (our octagenarian Lancer) at the stadium one cold February morning. We had a great conversation over lunch with Dr. Bob, got a tour of the stadium and the stadium club, and decided pretty quickly that the cost of the Stadium Club was well worth the benefit of having a great inside place to watch baseball. We told him we wanted to sign up. We were figuring out what the cost was for two new memberships, being that M and I were friends, not a family, when Dr. Bob gave us a knowing look. He explained that the Royals organization is welcoming and open-minded and there would only be one membership start-up fee since M and I were “such good friends”. Essentially, Dr. Bob thought we were a family, or a couple at least. I started to correct him when M gave me the look that said “We are about to save $250 – SHUT UP!” So I shut up and for a couple years I had a card that said Ginger Kuhns – Stadium Club Member and M had a card that said M – Stadium Club Member spouse. Now that is a close friendship.
  12. The White Stripes with M. Days before meeting my husband, I went to a White Stripes concert with my friend M. Some concerts change your life. The music is so good, the crowd so great, that the experience is transformative. This was not one of those concerts. Sure, Jack and Meg were great, and the music was great, but it was a corporate show and there were a bunch of jerks in the audience – including the one sitting next to me who kept leaning over to leer at M (a pitfall of having hot friends) and blow pot smoke in our faces. The experience was memorable because M and I have the best conversations. Despite very different lives, we have similar points of view on lots of things – and no topic is off-limits. M and I have had great conversations before concerts – I have admitted things to her that I haven’t admitted to anybody else. And it is wonderful to go to a concert with someone who has the same taste in music – who is up for the White Stripes at Starlight. We talked about politics, sang our hearts out along with Jack, and played “That’s Your Boyfriend”. M won the game – picking out a lovely specimen with a mohawk and a lack of personal hygiene for me. All in all, a great night.
  13. Piazza Navonna with H. Some of my happiest memories in my life are with H. She is the sister I never had. And we lived together in college, so there are literally hundereds of happy moments hanging out with her I could pick. She was there for me in some really tough times – and we laughed a lot together – everyday spent with her was fun. And you really get to know someone when you are dorm roomates. But my favorite experience with H happened many years after college when she and I went to Rome together. We were both in our 30s (unimaGble) and it is like we hadn’t missed a moment. We still laughed a lot together and could talk about anything. My favorite moment was Piazza Navonna, sitting in the sun, talking about our futures, alternately laughing and crying. There is something special about friends who have known you for a long time – they have seen you evolve and know where you have been, and how amazing the journey has been.
  14. Wedding Music. I asked my friend K to play “I’m a Believer” and “The Luckiest” on the violin during my wedding ceremony. She took this and ran, calling in the help of another friend of ours and one of her coworkers. DH and I heard a preperformance a few days before our wedding – and it is one of my happiest memories. They ended up doing more songs than just those two, and the music was beautiful. I cried like a baby when they played – it was just so moving. It meant so much to me that they had worked so hard on the songs, had made them so beautiful and special. K has known me through a lot of transitions in my adult life – and it was great to have this evening, this moment right before getting married. And it was great to share with my soon-to-be-husband the friends who had made this music for us.
  15. Pizza With K and M. Often, but not often enough, I have dinner at Waldo Pizza with K and M. Usually it is a Friday. They let me order the pizza with vegan cheese and no meat, and we get caught up on each other’s lives. I seriously do not know where the time goes. The minutes, the hours, fly by. I mean to leave by 8:00, and I look at my watch and it is 9:15. There seems to be so much to talk about – jobs, family, love. I look forward to the dinner all day, try to slow down and appreciate the experience while it is happening, and leave feeling a little more in love with the world. At these dinners I am just blown away with what great women they are. They both are so kind, so smart, so generous, so adorable. And I am proud of myself for being worthy of their friendship. When I had been through much personal turmoil in the first month of 2008, I had dinner with them. Their kind words, support, and empathy propped me up, made me feel like I could face what I had to face. That was the beginning of dealing with all the stuff I had been through. K and M don’t offer advice – they offer support and remind me that I am a good person and can handle anything. In one sentence, that is the blueprint for a good friend. And they don’t judge. OK, in two sentences, those are the blueprints for a good friend. Sitting down at the table for pizza with K and M feels like home. It doesn’t get any better than that.

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