Monday, January 10, 2011

Her Name is Lovin' Katie: a story of friendship

Church girl's camp, 1998. We sang many a silly song. One of them went something like:

Her name is Lovin' Katie
She's a red hot lady
She's the hottest girl in to-own
And when it comes to lovin
She's a human oven
And she'll burn you right down to the ground.
Spoken: psssssh, Ashes, baby!

Inevitably, when we sang this not very church-ish church camp song, my thoughts would turn to Katie. Not the one this song's about, but about my best friend in Utah.

That was over ten years ago. Sometimes I still think about that song, and when I do, I think about Katie, and since I'm on the topic of Katie and songs, I think of the silly songs she taught me. Like this one:

She died, she did, she died of a broken rib, she did!
She died, she did, she died of a broken rib, she did!
I know she did, she said she did, she showed me where she slipped and slid...

And, one of my favorites:

Around the corner
Behind the tree
A handsome major
Once said to me,
"Who'd marry you?
I'd like to know,
'Cause every time I look at your face
It makes me want to go
[Repeat from the top]

And then I remember the silly little endless question she used to say: "Life? What's life?" "A magazine." "how much?" "fifty cents" "too much." "That's life." "Life? What's life?" "A magazine...." And etc.

Those are pretty silly, aren't they? But, so were we. My first memory of Katie took place on the playground at Bennion Elementary School. Kindergarten. So woulda been 1986. We weren't in the same class. But I asked her why she needed glasses. She pointed to some far off landmark and asked if I could see it. I answered to the affirmative. She replied, "I can't." Now, I have a lot of memories of my childhood that have since been proven incorrect. I attribute this to a very powerful imagination, of which I am not ashamed. So, maybe this memory is skewed. Maybe it's several memories mixed together. Nonetheless, it's been sitting in the corners of my sub-conscious for decades now, exactly in the way I have here written. Besides, Katie was always saying clever things, so it's not like such a comment was beyond her, even at five years old.

It wasn't till we were 11 or 12 that we became friends. I speculate we were drawn to each other because we were the hated ones among our peers at church. We were hated for no other reason than that we were good, and stayed in our seats for the duration of class time. One day, Katie invited me to go swimming at her house. I felt honored. I knew no one else who had a swimming pool at her house. That day, after swimming, Katie put her arm around me and prophesied in a Humphrey Bogart manner: "this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

Indeed, it was. She was my first true best friend. I JUST now had a fun realization. My first best friend was Katie. I didn't get a new best friend till I met Kerrie. And now there's Kim! They all start with K! Yeah, I know, only I....

Anyway. Katie and I spent hours together, most of which were at her house. It did have a pool, after all. We would play with her Polly Pockets. We would play with her guinea pig. No, wait! It was a hedgehog. Maybe both....? We would listen to Carly Simon. We would walk to Holiday (a convenience store I've only ever seen in Utah) and buy Slurpies. Even in the winter. We went on bike rides. We discussed baby names. We talked about bras and periods and boys. Our birthdays were six days apart, and I thought that was neat. We played Hugger Mugger. We had a halfway tree, which marked the halfway point between our houses. I thought she was so cool.

When we were 14, I delivered the news that my family was moving to Idaho. And I had to go with them. This move was the first hard thing I ever did in my life. And it was hard. Katie insisted that I was wrong; I would not be moving. We bet a ten- page letter. I moved, shortly after we turned 15. 1996. April 26, 1996. She wrote me a ten-page letter. I still have it. Sometimes I review it and laugh and miss Katie. I miss her, because, you see, she got married. I was invited to her reception in 2002 I think it was, and I made a trip to Utah to attend, but I got lost. This adventure is a crazy story which I will likely share in another post. I never found the church. I dropped her gift off at her parents', and never heard from her again.

Over the years, I have tried various popular methods of old-friend-locating. No success. THEN about a year or two ago I found her little sister on Facebook. I sent her a friend request which she never responded to. But THEN, last week-ish [my concept of time lately is so very, very skewed], I was FB stalking her little sister and found a comment from her aunt. I remember this aunt. I remember Katie telling me she was full of life and often threw her hands in the air. I sent this aunt a message. Two days later, an unfamiliar email address was in my inbox, with the title reading "I am Katie."


Dear friends, since then, we have been catching up via email. I am so relieved to find her happy and well, and still clever! It has been a joy to reunite, even if by text only, a joy in a way I didn't anticipate. I knew it would rock, oh yes I did. But, it's been so great finding out she's still Katie! And I still love her and she still loves me and we are so still friends.

In one of her emails, she reminded me that we had decided we would both name our first daughter Jessica. I hadn't recalled. But I do remember that was my favorite name during those years. Well, we didn't name anyone Jessica. I named my daughter Anna, and she named her daughter . . . (drum roll, please) . . . Anna! Ha!

My son was born on her birthday, six days after mine. Also, incidentally, it's Dr. Suess's birthday.

Dude. Or, rather, Dude-a-rad. (that's an inside joke between Katie and me only, yo.)

Dear Katie, I hope you don't mind this all-about-you post.

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