|Lisa – one on of our early
adventures on Rainy Lake.
I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was 8. I still have the book that led to this awareness of a future career. It’s a college writing textbook that my mom brought home, salvaged from the trash at her college dorm housekeeping job. My little girl scrawl is still visible in the book, as I started to do the lessons on the pages. Later, my mom caught me writing in the book – hey, it’s a WORKBOOK – and I had to do my self-imposed lessons in a notebook I have since lost.
After suffering a horrific 9th grade English teacher who screamed a lot and told me I was a terrible writer, I decided to give it one last shot. 10th grade was a new school and new possibilities, so I enrolled in journalism — a pre-requisite for participating on the school newspaper or yearbook staffs. It was the most intimidating room I’ve ever been in. Unlike my other classes, which were filled with other sophomores and maybe a stray junior or two, this class was mostly seniors and juniors, including the superintendent’s kid.
The class was unlike any other in the attitudes of the kids. Many of the students were there to fill time — after finishing their requirements, they were just taking any elective to stay out of study hall. This wasn’t serious for them. Most had no aspirations related to journalism beyond getting a passing grade. It was like the day before spring break every single day. Our poor teacher.
For the few sophomores, it was intimidating as hell. We needed to do better than “pass.” Most of us were there because we wanted to be on a publications staff the following year. Some of us planned on being the next Gloria Steinam. Not one of us had yet learned how to get away with murder the way the seniors had.
We were assigned a group project one day in that oh-so-fun way teachers have of torturing you: here’s the project, it’s worth 250% of your grade and you will all get the same grade, now, put your life into the hands of others and pick three people to be in your group: One your mark, get set, GO.
I looked around, realizing I had already been left out of the groups being formed, and my eyes met a very quiet girl who sat near me, also a sophomore. I sort of knew her from freshman year at the old school, but we had barely exchanged 10 words that year. I wasn’t sure she even liked me. I had no choice and neither did she. We were a group!
Unfortunately, someone else joined the group. I say “unfortunately” because I’m sure it was torture for him or her. I have no recollection who it was because within minutes, the quiet girl — Lisa Jones — and I were BFFs times 10.
Thus began a Thelma and Louise style friendship that has lasted for nearly 25 years. I know Thelma and Louise ended up going down in a blaze of glory. I have no doubt that will happen to us, too.
Lisa and I have had so many adventures I could write a book only about our friendship! When our other two BFFs went off and got married by the time we were 20, Lisa and I adventured out into the world and tore the place up. (May I just say THANK GOD social media did not exist then.) The boyfriend of a friend we met in our 20s had only heard of us — we had not yet met him — and, after hearing many stories, it finally occurred to him that he was hearing about the same two people. “I thought she was talking about 7 or 8 different people,” he said. In that same era, a friend of mine described us showing up for a visit as, “a tornado blowing in the room. When you are gone, it’s all sad and quiet and I have to go recover.”
Recently, Lisa discovered blogging. I am SO THRILLED. She should have been doing this years ago. She and her hubby (Mr. Jenkins) decided to pull up roots and transplant themselves from her birthplace (and childhood home) in lush and green Indiana to a dilapidated trailer in the New Mexico desert. Her cross country posts about moving made me a little sad. The last time she fled to a different state, I helped and I got to visit her Denver home. And there was no Facebook to post about our cross-country adventures. I can’t believe she moved without me.
But it makes me happy to read her posts. She is having fun. She is hilarious, of course, so her take on life in the wild west is very happy. Visit her blog New Life in an Old Trailer if you get a chance.