Friday, July 27, 2007

I would fly you to the moon and back

Andrea loved this song.

She’s taking her time making up the reasons to justify all the hurt inside. Guess she knows from the smiles and the looks in their eyes, everyone’s got a theory bout the bitter one.

Mama never loved her much. Daddy never keeps in touch. Now she shies away from human affection. But somewhere in a private place, she packs a bag for outerspace. Now she’s waiting for the right kind of pilot to come. And she’ll say to him, I would fly you to the moon and back if you’ll be, if you’ll be my baby. Got a ticket for a world where we belong. So would you be my baby, yeah. She can’t remember a time when she felt needed. If love was red then she was color blind.

All her friends have been tried for treason. And crimes that were never defined. Love is like a barren place. Reaching out for human faith, it’s like a journey I just don’t have a map for. So baby’s gonna take a dive, push the shift to overdrive. Send a signal that she’s hanging on her hopes on the stars. What a pleasant dream ...

The thing is, I never could grasp why she felt that way. Her mama and daddy did love her much. There were no smiles and looks in their eyes. She might have been bitter, but it was her own choice. And her friends? They were never tried for treason. If she was the princess, I was her bodyguard. Her lady-in-waiting. Her everything.

It was never important that she love me as much as I loved her. It was fine that she let me hang around. Separations came and went. Sometimes she didn’t return my phone calls. When we were 15, she stopped talking to me for several months, and I was sure that was just it. But then on the fourth of July, I saw her outside. I was in my room, and I saw that she saw me. So I waved, and she gestured that I should come over. We walked to Safeway in our shorts, flip-flops and bikini tops and bought fireworks, even though legally you had to be 16 to do so. We looked 16. She looked amazing. The guys at the fireworks stand opted not to argue with her when she leaned forward over the counter and let her dark hair fall all around her.

We laughed at the look on his face as we walked back home. After that, we were best friends again for the rest of high school and into college. We went through boyfriends and other friends and parties together and apart. We found the worst sort of trouble to get into and stayed out very, very late.

For her 19th birthday, her boyfriend wanted to take her to Canada, and my fiance and I went along. She drank more than we could imagine a 110 pound 5’7’’ girl holding ever. She started to cry. She’d just returned from an exchange student program in Australia to find someone else wanted her guy. He hadn’t cheated, but he hadn’t exactly kicked this other girl, Dawn, to the curb either. They were “friends.”

“She’s prettier than me! You should just go be with her. I’m not good enough for you. Look at me! I’m so useless. Just get out of here. I don’t even want to talk to you.”

Her boyfriend, Chris, who was drunk, but less so, was lost and hurt. I shoved him away and held her. “Shhhhh. It’s OK, it’s OK. I love you. You’re wonderful. He doesn’t want her, he wants you. He’d do anything for you. Shhhhh. It’s OK.”

She cried and cried and cried and told me she loved me. It was the only time she ever did.

Later that night, Chris called our hotel room. She was puking in the bathroom and wouldn’t let him in. He was worried she could get hurt. I went up there, but she wouldn’t let me in either. She was sobbing again and wretching. The next morning, I combed her hair out for her and helped her put a cold washcloth on her eyes. She vowed she’d never drink again.

A year later, she was the maid of honor at my wedding. She came, she smiled, she wore a dress and stood in pictures. I was so glad she was there for me, even though really, she’d done none of the typical bridesmaid duties. Honestly, I don't think she even knew she was supposed to be in charge of a shower. Luckily, another bridesmaid, Katie, knew this about her, and just stepped in without making a deal over it. Andrea was flighty and we’re just glad she agreed to help at all.

That was really the last time we were friends. A year after that, I tracked her down and went to see her at the UW. We visited for a few hours. She’d gained a bunch of weight while Chris was in Iraq, and then lost it quickly when she heard he was coming home. She didn’t look well at all. It was like I was talking to the shell of her former self.

I talked to her on the phone after I moved to Idaho a few more times. Two perhaps. She said she’d love to come visit. Maybe in October?

She never returned another phone call or email after that. I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she had a new email and new phone number. (Her cell had a computer voicemail, so there wasn’t anyway to know if it was still her number.) I left her a message once every four months or so. I emailed periodically. Nothing.

Once, a guy answered her phone. When I asked for her, he hung up. That told me a lot. If it had been a wrong number, he would have said so, right?

When I was pregnant, I called her parents house. I realize now that talking to her dad was a mistake. He told me he’d give her the message, but he never really gave them to her when we were kids either. I should have waited and talked with her mom. Anyway, he did refuse to give me her contact info, which told me even more.

I asked my mom to find out what she could. (Andrea’s mom and my mom go to the same hairdresser.) I guess she’s living in Seattle with a guy named Gig. I guess she’s not interested in ever talking to me again.

But there’s still some part of me that wonders. What if she’s scared? What if she’s trapped in an abusive relationship with some over-controlling guy?

Sometimes I’m hurt, and consider her gone for good. But sometimes I miss her so much my heart aches for her.

Honestly, when I was a teenager, I used to wonder if I wasn’t maybe a little bit bi. But it wasn’t that I loved all women, it was just that I loved her.

I still have the same phone number I did in college when we last talked. My mom still has the same address and phone number she did when we were growing up. If she wants to find me, she can. But if she doesn’t want to be found, she doesn’t want to be found. (She’s ungoogleable. Andrea Clark. Ha ha ha ha!)

Everytime I think I’ve said good-bye for good, gotten all the closure I’ll ever need, something else happens. My son and I danced to Savage Garden the other day, and I wondered. Did she ever find the right kind of pilot? I hope so.

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