Saturday, July 08, 2006

Moving On

I wrote my first romance one weekend with Liz. We kicked our friend Jim out, borrowed his house, stocked it with food, wine, and beer, and cranked out the worst book imaginable in two days then headed for the river where we floated a 13-mile trip drinking beer and patting ourselves on the back for having done something interesting.

Jim later died, and his request was to have his ashes scattered at the racetrack, back when there was a racetrack. He loved the ponies and wanted to be ‘buried’ on the Finish Line. Trouble was, this was against the law, so his friends had to sneak out there, in the mud, during a pouring rain, and take care of the matter.

My friend Linda passed away July 3rd, and I didn’t find out until her burial, yesterday. I have so many wonderful memories of this woman – just thought I’d share a few.

When three of us divorcees—Linda, Liz, and I—first met at the university as graduate teaching assistants, we spent a lot of time floating the Illinois River in a canoe, having drinks at Granny’s Attic or someone’s house, sharing hobbies and interests (Linda got me into astrology and Liz drew me into service organizations)…I’m not sure what I contributed to the group.

As graduation approached, Linda proposed the three of us (plus my then 5-yr-old son) live in Mexico for two or three years. Two of us to work, one to write for 6-9 months, then trade off. Lots of Mexican Riviera and ruins to explore, cheap living expenses, that sort of thing. It’s the only time I turned down one of her proposals.

Liz left with a lover to teach at various universities from Missouri to South Dakota to Texas. She became a journalist and still either volunteered or worked for such organizations as the American Lupus Association, Neighborhood Watch, etc. She and her lover visited Costa Rica twice, Europe…I don’t know how many times, not to mention cities all over North America. They’d fly off to Paris for a weekend to celebrate someone’s birthday or trek through a jungle just because it was there.

Linda remained single and used her alimony monies over the next seven years to fuel her ambition to remain beautiful. She lived off of her teaching salaries at various public and private schools, and every summer would have some form of liposuction surgery, an eye lift, a tummy tuck, that sort of thing. She took many lovers, some who were big dogs in state government, others who were so artsy fartsy that even France wouldn’t have them. She wrote erotic poetry, traveled extensively, and painted. Some of her paintings still hang in this museum. Occasionally, she’d phone me to discuss planetary alignments or the cost of mascara, or she’d regale me with tales of her latest conquests…plural…there were always more than one.

Linda was one of those Dorian Gray types – you never knew just how old she was until she died and they printed it in a newspaper, making you blink in surprise. She was one of the most independent women I knew, one who took so much joy in simple things yet could commit some of the most amazing, bizarre, and controversial acts imaginable. I remember when my son lost his first tooth, and Linda was babysitting him. She spent the hours that night while I was in a night class to tape record their conversation as he wiggled that tooth in the bathroom. It was pretty enlightening to see what The Kid was like when he was with her, how she could draw him out and keep him talking about things important to him.

This was the same woman who dumped a big salad bowl on the head of a man who'd offended her at dinner...then howled with laughter when he picked up the pitcher of margaritas and dumped it on her head. Fancy restaurant - we're talking big name. Somehow, they managed not to get thrown out.

She was also the type who would stare down hitchhikers and street people, when others would turn their heads. Not Linda. She looked them over from head to toe, like she was sizing them up for her bed, a novel, or a painting...all of which was highly possible, despite her rather uptown, upscale education and upbringing.

Liz and I had brunch today. She’s moving to northeastern Texas to teach at the end of this month – our Bohemian friend is gone but never forgotten – and I’m the only one who actually went into writing, even though we all talked about it at one time. Sometimes I wonder why. I mean Liz was brighter than any of us, Linda more creative, so why me?

I guess someone had to tell their stories from time to time. My life has never been boring, but it’s hardly been theirs. I did the mom thing, and the traveling I did was mostly with my child. The charities I’ve worked for were piddly compared to Liz’s. The lovers I’ve taken weren’t huge movers and shakers, as were Linda’s. God knows I’m not as gorgeous as either of them – lol. But I’ve had what I wanted…I’ve been blessed by people in my life…them included…that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Linda didn’t believe in heaven or hell per se. She believed in reincarnation, Wheel of Life stuff, nothing so austere as eternal damnation. I’m pretty sure that regardless, if she’s managed to snag a seat where politicians and sex are welcome, it’s not behind the Pearly Gates.

Liz, on the other hand, was raised Protestant and converted to Catholicism for marriage. Once that was over, she kept her beliefs…I think. For some reason, religion never comes up in our numerous conversations, but she’s familiar with Linda’s beliefs, so I’ve wondered without asking just what she thinks now.

I had a beer last night…her beverage of choice…after Linda was laid to rest. Some day I’m gonna visit her grave and have another, and pour one over the ground, just to have a last drink with her. If Gambler Jim’s ashes can make it to the Finish Line, I think I can pour beer on a grave without too much flack from the Almighty, or whoever is watching.

Typical writer that I am, I intend to continue speculating on these friends, telling their stories…and mine. I’m glad at least one of us decided to record our adventures.

I’m sure you have friends whose very existence shaped you into who you are. Feel free to share or to just read and reminisce privately as you think on them.



At 5:47 PM, Blogger Sam said...

I love reading your posts - they are pretty special, maybe because they are about special people!

At 10:06 PM, Blogger Rinda Elliott said...

You've lost too many people this year. I'm sorry, hon.

At 10:50 PM, Blogger Jordan Summers said...

(((Hugs))) It sounds like they were wonderful friends who enriched your life tenfold.

At 11:35 PM, Blogger Lyn Cash said...

aw, THANKS - all of you. I have such good memories of these people. I'm always amazed at how much I learn from my friends...those within proximity as well as those online.

Hope you all took this in the spirit meant - some of these folks are just too kewl to say goodbye to without someone delivering a worthy epitaph *grin*

At 6:48 PM, Blogger Merry said...

Commiserations on your loss, but at the same time, thank God you got to know them! Lovely tribute to friends here and gone...

At 8:03 PM, Anonymous raine said...

What wonderful memories.

At 5:13 PM, Blogger Shesawriter said...

thanks for the fascinating trip through your wonderful mind, Lyn. HUGS!

At 10:15 PM, Blogger Michele said...

Beautiful post and a warm, witty and sentimental tribute to your good friend.

Sorry for your loss :(

At 1:38 AM, Blogger April said...

Lovely post... Thank you so much for sharing. It sounds like you've had wonderful friends and they've brought a lot to your life...

At 1:52 AM, Blogger Lyn Cash said...

THANK YOU, ladies. April, great to hear from you. Hope I get a chance (it's storming here off and on) to visit your blog tomorrow. From what I could see, lots goin' on - and I loved the FLIRTS blog as well - LOL.

At 3:14 PM, Anonymous Carla said...

Sunny, you always speak so clearly from the heart, yet are also able to put it to paper - hm...hence YOU'RE the writer.

Thank you for sharing...again. Huge hugs, and here's one for you, Linda, and Liz! ::clicking coffee cup cyberly against the beer bottles"

Hugs and love,

At 8:29 PM, Blogger Mechele Armstrong said...

A wonderful tribute. So sorry for your loss. It's never easy.


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