Treasures

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I remember with great clarity the day I met Lisa Matt. My family lived in a house surrounded by my Grandfather’s land and had no neighbors to speak of, except the house across the street. How long Lisa’s family had been there, I’m not sure – I was five, and details concerning that house pre-Lisa are completely absent.

My Dad and I were just coming back from a walk one cloudy evening (or a bike ride… ok, maybe my clarity isn’t so great, but the POINT is, we were coming North on the road, and not driving) and saw that The Neighbor was outside. The Neighbor (Bob) had his step-daughter outside, who was playing with a skateboard. Dad asked if I wanted to go meet them. Being an only child, and shy, I did require minor nudging, but we went up and introduced ourselves. Lisa had very blonde hair and, more importantly, a sloped driveway, which yielded great success with the skateboard.

We started out toward the bottom and gradually worked our way higher and higher up the slope. It should be noted – the slope is not huge, but when you’re five, things are hugely relative. In fact, I have a (terrible) photo I took a couple of years ago at about 25mph:

We went up and down that driveway easily a hundred times that night, and thus, a friendship was born. Every day from that point forward, one of us would call the other and say the same thing: “Can you play?” I still remember that phone number – it’s etched in my DNA.

This is one of my favorite photos – it’s a perfect moment reflective of so many others. Dad took this in Great-Grandpa’s woods, maybe in 1978 or 79. I love Lisa’s stripey tube sock!

I don’t think many days went by when we didn’t see each other. We were in the same grade at school, and every day afterward, there was Really Important Stuff to be done. Stuffed animals to act out dramas with, vast forts in the woods to be made, creeks to become lost in, trees to be climbed, Playboy magazines to be uncovered, huge sweeping stories to be acted out, snow to be played in, “Grease” to be sung… oh my, but we had some times.

That tree now towers over the house, as shown here:

That tree, I’m very sad to say, got chopped down long ago, like most of the big trees in my late great-grandfather’s woods.

We lived about 200 miles from the nearest beach – I remember the sand, but haven’t any idea where it came from.

We got into our fair share of trouble, certainly, and hatched elaborate plans to run away with maps and lists. There were slumber parties and birthday parties. This is Lisa’s 8th birthday party at my house – bask in the 1978ness of it all:

We were both pretty awful at ballet:

I was far too bossy, because I had my mother for a role model. But man, we had some fun.

Our families took quasi-annual vacations to Cedar Point together, usually in two separate cars. Bob had CB’s, and the first year they used them, I remember distinctly my dad’s handle was “Toejam.” Mom was so unamused with that. It cracked the rest of us up. I can’t remember what Bob’s handle was… it’s lurking on the periphery but won’t quite come into focus. We spent many hours at Cedar Point growing up… the sights, sounds and smells are all so clear. Little micro-vignettes pop into my head as I’m writing this… parts of The Mine Ride, the food vendors, the times we played the arcade games, the old-fashioned “saloons,” the big, giant, outdoor IMAX theater with its barnstorming movies, the Corkscrew, the boat rides, the smell of the trains, Frontier Town. Lisa and I rode The Gemini a bazillion times every trip. I remember being young enough to worry about the “you must be this tall to ride the _________;” the heartbreaking disappointment one year, followed by jubilation the next.

I’d give a lot to go back in time to one of those summer visits.

How lucky were we to have our best friend right across the street? I’m getting a little choked up, here, pardon me a moment…

Ok.

High school came, and with the sudden influx of new people and the enormity of the school itself (1200 students, oh my!) we started drifting, like you sometimes do. We acquired new best friends, had various fallings out, but remained on each other’s Radar. Lisa got a car way before I did – I think it was senior year, and she got this ginormous boat of a car – a mid-70’s Delta 88, if I recall correctly. I didn’t get a car til I was a junior in college – weak!

In college, there were visits and letters, but I’ve never been any good at keeping up with that sort of thing – more drifting. Email had been invented, but it wasn’t often used. She got married, had kids, I drifted around doing whatever it was I was doing. Years passed, a few emails were exchanged. She moved to Hawaii and became HOLY SHIT RIPPED.  Seriously, click that link – Flickr won’t let me link the image here. She took up motorcycling, too.

Fast-forward to last year. Through the wonders of modern technology, we connected on Facebook, and suddenly, once again, Lisa was a part of my daily world again! And it rules. Lisa is into quilting, too, and has been at it a good while longer than I have. She’s made some great stuff, and is particularly interested in Civil War-era blocks and fabrics. We got a blog set up for her on my server, and even set one up for her husband, who is a medic just deployed again to Afghanistan.

We’re still the same kids, naturally, just with Real World stuff woven into our lives. Hard miles, some of it.  It would be so great if we can visit each other at some point (although the last time she saw me, I weighed about 90 pounds less, good lord.) I think it would be pretty amazing to look into those eyes I knew so well, but haven’t seen for twenty years – I bet the same sparkle is still there, and I bet her laugh is probably the same, too. But there would be time and age and differences that would be pretty spectacular to see.

We agreed to do a handmade swap. I have the fabric sitting right next to me here, so I can think about what would be worthwhile to make from it. One doesn’t simply make a strippy quilt out of Civil War repros – it needs form and shape. And probably points, which scares the hell out of me, and partially explains why it’s sitting here and isn’t a Work In Progress yet.

Lisa, on the other hand, took the bull by the horns and got her stuff in the mail to me not long after we set up the swap. They arrived today.

When I opened the mailbox to find a package, I thought, “Oh crap… did I go shopping in my sleep again?” It’s been known to happen! When I got it inside, I saw this:

I looked at the return address, and my heart welled and then immediately sank – it was from Lisa, yay! It was damaged, OH NO. Of all the packages they could have torn… not this one! A massive gash in the envelopes exterior! Sons of bitches, you cannot blithely stick an “oops, this is damaged” sticker on it! I need a full explanation in triplicate. I need… oh – it’s ok. Fortunately, nothing was harmed – there was just shredded package lining all over – yay!

Mike Neir will testify to this: Every time we go to the grocery store, I say, “Dammit, I keep forgetting to make produce bags,” because I hate using the plastic ones that just end up in the recycling pile. I won’t have to say that anymore – Lookie what Lisa made me!  These are exactly what I had in mind to make, just exactly:

She sent a collection of different-sized bags and another bag to hold them in. Lisa can sew in straight lines. I am so jealous.

There’s even more awesomeness, though, and I am going to start reading this immediately after hitting PUBLISH:

Lisa, thank you so much – these are all just perfect. I miss you, girlie. Someday, there will have to be Vacations and Visiting.

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7 responses to Treasures


  1. Your stories are so fun to read. You are a marvelous writer.
    I do hope you and Lisa get to see each other again.
    5 years ago I connected with 4 girls that we all lived on the same street as kids and had not seen each other in 40 years. What a day we had.

  2. OMG I have so much to say!! But first, you are SO WELCOME. I’m glad you actually like the bags. hehe And I’m even more glad that no one else got you the Homesteading book! I was sure someone else would for the same reason I did; you posted about it in the blog here. LOL!

    My first memory of us is in the driveway that night too, but I don’t remember anything BEFORE the endless trips up and down the driveway. My mom or I actually have pictures from that evening!! I remember those two funny little skateboards… nothing like today’s “Tony Hawk” types.

    When I think of “US”… It’s predominantly The Fort. Thank god for endless hours of outdoor time… I wish I lived somewhere like that now for my kids. *sigh* Summertime fort. Wintertime fort. It was all good. Just today I was trying to describe what my feet would feel like after being outdoors all day during a Michigan winter. How PAINFUL my feet got to feel, and then the thawing out indoors later was just as painful! Knocking down icicles to eat… “ice skating” on the frozen ditch water near the road… I LOVED doing that. Digging caverns out of the massive snow drifts. I remember my moon boots and those weird ski mask things I had to wear that got soaking wet with snot and THAT was as uncomfortable as anything else was!!

    Those weird trees along the road of your house… I don’t remember exactly what those ball-things were, something like “O sage oranges”?? Hmm. LOL Riding our bikes for miles in any direction.

    I totally still remember your phone number too. I know yours better than I remember mine. I had to call my mom every day after school and then I’d call you….on that old rotary dial phone. With the CORD of all things. And I remember being jealous of people with long cords because mine was short and I couldn’t really get anywhere with it.

    I was so jealous because your parents seemed to buy you EVERYthing we ever wanted. Brand name clothes and makeup and all the good board games and books! I just have two words on that subject: DARK. TOWER.

    I can’t hardly image what life would have been like had you NOT lived across the street in the ONE other house. LOL

    Oh god, BALLET! I *was* terrible. I remember I met Amy Stewart there before we ever met her thru going to the same school. And my 8th birthday party was at your house? LMAO Why would that be I wonder. Weird.

    I will have to find old photo albums too…

    Sweeping out the tent in your backyard. Didn’t we eat raw hotdogs that night, wondering if we were going to get sick or die?

    I love all the old pics of us together… they are really good ones, considering what kind of camera they must have been taken with! hehe

    I wish our 20th high school reunion was THIS summer… last summer was just terrible timing since we were JUST arriving on the mainland from Hawaii, living in the hotel and all…. I just couldn’t get up there.

    I promised my Mom I would road trip to Ohio to see her this summer. It will be the first time I’ve ever gone to her house, because I’m a terrible slacker daughter…. Maybe we should start cooking up a plan to extend the trip on up to Michigan, too. I could either leave the kids with Mom and come solo, or bring them along too, and you could use them as manual laborers. 😀

  3. That’s so great that you have reconnected and even share interests! I love how the internet has enabled me to reconnect with old friends. I have a friend who is interested in civil war quilt blocks. Any info I can give her?

  4. So I was thinking more and more about everything! My first car was actually the 1978 Buick Skylark in metallic pumpkin orange. It didn’t last very long because I never got the oil changed and I cracked the engine block on it. So because I showed such terrible neglect to my first car, THAT’s when I got the, even worse, 1976 Delta 88. Land Barge! I wonder what the gas mileage was on that thing!!

    And I also wonder what Dell and Corey are up to these days. LOL!!! Remember 10:10? So goofy, it’s almost painful to write. hehehehe

    I loved going to Cedar Point, too!!! It’s funny, back then no ride could scare me or make me sick. Today, tho, I feel like hurling on most tame rides. 🙁 Elizabeth DOES throw up on rides, and unfortunately for her friends, that does not stop her from going on them!! LMAOO

    I remember your Mom screaming for you: AIRRR–ROOOONNNNN and I think we heard her no matter where we were!! hehehe

    Oh! And when I was reading your blog last night and the first picture was of the damaged packaging I was like OH NOOOO… nooo! LOL Damn the postal workers! I’m so glad everything was safe inside. It didn’t occur to me to pack the stuff particularly safely INSIDE the envelope! Sheesh.

    Gotta jet to work!
    XOXOXOX

  5. it’s wonderful that you have been able to rediscover something that faded. i know, for me, i have simply lost most of my connections/friendships due to distance and time. for me facebook has not been that kind of miracle. although i suppose if I *actually used it* that might help.

    adding that book to my amazon wishlist immediately!

  6. Erin

    katie – thanks so much for the kind words! I can only imagine how much fun you had with the girls. 🙂

    jane – i bet Lisa has some great info to pass along to you; i’ll see if she will share here!

    lisa – sorry it’s taken a few days to respond – i’m applying for a new position at work, and that coupled with other stuff has really been eating my time.

    indeed, no one else got the book, and i’ve already finished it! it has some great information on so many subjects; really good stuff!

    The Fort was definitely one of the best parts of my childhood, no question. What an awesome thing to spend our time on! And holy wow, the cold!! Sliding around in your ditch with our moon boots, falling down, freezing our butts off…. do you remember the time we sprayed ourselves down ridiculously badly with bug spray on, um, parts of our bodies that wouldn’t normally get bitten? I remember a lot of BURNING. 😀

    The tress are indeed osage orange trees, and they’re still there, thankfully, scraggly as ever. The people who bought our house have made a lot of changes, but most of the trees are all still intact. That makes me happy.

    Mom and Dad really did spoil me on Christmas, and even though it was cool then, I don’t think it did me any favors later on. I had a terrible attitude about what the world owed me – truly, spoiled rotten. We surely never did hurt for toys and games, but I think it was just Too Much. Easy to say that now, of course, right? Back then, I had a different view.

    I remember the raw hotdogs, and also hearing a train way far away and wondering if it was a tornado coming to kill us. Ah, the perils of camping in the backyard!

    I hope you can come up sometime this year, that would be great! If you can’t make it all the way up to MI, maybe we could meet somewhere in the middle. It would be awfully fun to spend a couple of days running around Mason and all the old stomping grounds together, though.

    A Skylark? Wow, I have absolutely no memory of that at all! I wonder where that part of my brain went…. although I naturally do remember 10:10, and it crosses my mind now and then when I see any digital clock displaying that time, lol.

    Ok… break time is over, back to work!! Love you, lady!

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