licking bouncy-balls and using them as markers.
When I was five or something, my Mom remarried a nice guy named Joe. Joe’s pretty neat. When we were little he’d wear this Skippy shirt and we’d play Skippy Says. (A few years ago, he gave me that shirt. It’s my favorite running shirt to date.) More recently, Joe took Claire to see Cirque du Soleil with his now wife, Terry. Let’s just say I’m jealous of a 3 1/2 year old. While I was working a 12 hour shift, my kid was watching contortionism at its finest. And when she got home, all she could talk about were coconuts and hot sauce. I’m not sure why, but I can pretty much guess that that’s what Joe told her to say. He’s cool like that.
Any how, my Mom married Joe and we lived in Minnesota for a little while longer until Joe got offered a job at Clarion University. He already was a PhD in English lit and was a professor at a private college in Minneapolis, but this one was better for some reason or another. Joe was from Philly, so it was probably a good thing for him to be a little closer to home. So we up and moved to Clarion, PA. It’s a small town about an hour north of Pittsburgh.
They’re very original with names there. We lived in Clarion County, went to Clarion elementary school and swam in the Clarion river. It was Clarion-tastic. Except, for the fact that I had absolutely no friends. I moved 1,000 miles away from my family and everything I knew during the first grade and lived in a white house by the university. Next door was a sorority house. Down the street was the glass plant. And across the street was little house with a crab apple tree in the front yard.
One day, I noticed that there was a girl that lived in that house across the street and she looked about my sister’s age. She had short blonde hair like me and glasses. But I didn’t know anyone from Pennsylvania and they probably all thought I sounded funny with my midwestern accent, so I played shy. I got out my fold up lounge chair, you know, the kind that was made with plastic bands that would stick to your skin and make you have funny red marks on your ass, and got a whole mess of books and activity pads. I then sat there, facing her house, and “did stuff.”
I say that in quotations because I totally just sat there and very sly-like stared at her.
She did the same thing. She got out her fold up lounge chair, some books and a pen and copied me. My Mom kept telling me to go across the street and say hi, but I refused.
Obviously, my stealth-like staring wasn’t nearly as good as I had thought, because after an hour or so of us copying each other, she finally came over and said hi. Or maybe I went over there. I can’t remember. Either way, that’s how I became friends with the girl across the street, Lindsay.
Eventually, Carly joined in and we three became the best of friends. Well, Carly and Lindsay did. I was the annoying little sister who was invited to play the majority of the time, but sometimes just got ran away from. Apparently I talked too much. Psh.
Together, we’d play Mystery Mansion, War and Twister. And on special days, we’d invite The New Kids on the Block to play Twister with us. I always had to like Danny. I wasn’t allowed to like Joey. And as an insult, we’d say “Oooh! You love DONNY!”
Right around the corner from our houses, there was this drive through bank that ran funny hours. We’d call it “The Mall,” and spend an amazing amount of time there…given it was a drive through bank. There was a door that was an awful maroon/rust color and we’d write on it by licking bouncy-balls and using them as markers.
One day, Carly and Lindsay got into a fight and Lindsay wrote all over the door with things like, “CARLY LOVES DONNY.” Ouch. That is a fight for the record books, let me tell you.
They totally made up a week later, but still. I was forced to take Carly’s side, of course, and life got boring. Lindsay just had a way of making everything more fun. She had an imagination like no other and would come up with the best games to play. Plus she had a beautiful singing voice.
Behind her backyard were old train tracks and she had a real-live grape vine. That’s some cool stuff. We’d record ourselves making up our own talk shows and climb trees. We’d eat Spaghetti O’s and microwave pizza and we hardly got bored.
Of course, we all grew up and eventually Carly and I moved across town. We all stayed friends, but Lindsay was several grades ahead of me. So it was hard to still stay close.
But we’ve always stayed in contact and facebook is a wonderful way to make that possible. Not too long ago, Lindsay opened up her own Etsy shop where she features her own needlepoint. And trust me, it’s not something your Grandma would sew. It’s cool stuff. And when I saw all the neat things she could do, I asked her to make something for Maelie.
Boy did she ever.
And can I just say that the detail amazed the hell out of me? Growing up, I knew Lindsay was a perfectionist of sorts but oh man. It is simply perfect.
I was so excited when it came that I drove poor sleepy Miss Mae to Michaels, bought a frame, came home, ironed it and put it in. Then woke up poor sleeping Mae just to get it on the wall in her room.
I’m in love.
So this is my giant, super-duper HUGE thank you! to Miss Lindsay Dudzick for making my baby a beautiful gift.
And super thanks for being my very first friend in Clarion. I have known you for 21 years now and just typing that made me feel old. Thank you for always being there and being such a dear friend.
Oh, and thanks for believing me when I said I felt sick during Monkey in the Middle when Carly was saying that I just didn’t want to be the monkey in the middle. When I went home and threw up all over the place for the next 24 hours, Carly got the point.
Pretty sure that was the last time we ever played that game, too.