…I’ve found my friends. They’re in my head. *

My first friendship can be encapsulated in 1 memory. I don’t even remember the girls name but she had two sisters and lived across the tiny town where we both lived, Echo Oregon. The name reflects the fact that it is in a valley, but my memories seem as hollow as the name sounds while equally as alive with green pines and babbling brooks. We were all left alone in the house with nothing but a pumpkin pie for hours, because it was totally okay for parents to leave 6 and 7 year olds alone in a big house at the time. But don’t worry, it was actually a blast. Besides the fact that I love pumpkin pie, I mean. They had a tape player attached to those huge speakers with subwoofers the size of your head. I had a tape of The Beach Boys classic album, “Surfin U.S.A.” Truth: I was a hipster music snob from birth. Actually, I only new about this album because of my adopted grandparents and of course the most amazing film ever, “The Flight of the Navigator” (I am still waiting for technology to catch up with that dream style of flying with your body). Also, this was the perfect album to play for my first foray into couch surfing. Not the kind where you are vaguely homeless. No the literal kind. We climbed up during that amazing first riff and land right on the down beat. We all swayed on our imaginary surf boards (the head rest of the couch) in unison with the backing vocals “inside, outside usa” and shake to the other epic film tune, “misirlou”. This was easy for all of us to do at the time. I don’t recommend it to anyone over 8 unless they are of very small stature. In fact, we didn’t do it ever again because my long-lost dad whirled into town at during my Aunt’s wedding with a big red van, a white-guy jheri curl, and cat named “Kitty Man”. I left with him for my first part-time dad-venture and didn’t come back until my mom had married a new man and moved to a new town.

I became enamored with boys shortly after only punctuated by my first slumber party where I experienced my first mean girl bullying. The birthday girl and ringleader is currently a struggling actress in NYC. I’m not sure what this means for my life but I’ve bookmarked that fact for a future epiphany. I am not sure which was worse though, because my boy party turned into way too much attention. One kid smothered me as I was hiding because I was tired of playing chase and wouldn’t get off. Another gave me a ring and sang Gun’s N Roses “Paradise City” to me. The boy across the street apparently watched me changing with my step-dad because I forgot to close the curtains. He assure me it was, “quite a show”. >.< Don't worry my hero came to take me away again. This time he had sobriety buttons, a modest straight cut, and those ugly 80's glasses that hipsters wear ironically now.

[note: I really, wish I had pictures to prove his fashion statements]

When I came back the boy across the street had written me 3 pages of love letters but we never really talked after that. Mom and step-dad moved us to a nearby town where they could live the farmboy dream in a double-wide on an acre of land that we dug up and watered for years for seemingly no reason at all. It didn't even grow grass evenly. Even in the high dessert style of Eastern Oregon dirt, this is a huge fail. I think this is an equal reflection of my friendship trials. Mom had bought me one of those dressers with a huge mirror for you to become totally vane and put makeup stuff. I used it for cutting up my clothes to create fashion accessories and …well… talking to myself.

.this was my first true friendship.

I could always count on myself, I had a lot in common with me, and I always inspired myself to use my imagination. I wasn't really alone because as I talked to myself, my mind became alive with the stories that I created. Most of the time the time they were adaptations of movies or real life events. There was a lot of musical . I had gotten my first casio keyboard and stero with open-mic recording to tape as well as radio. This was a time when radio was as powerful and free as the internet. My first dance scene was set to Annie Lennox "Broken Glass" Maybe she and Amy Grant could be considered my first female friends. Annie gave me advice and allowed me to get in touch with that wild and free part of myself. I would kill to have a friend like that now. She believed in me and she understood my pain. I understood hers and was impressed by her ability to dance through it all. "And if you're trying to cut me down..you know that I might leave.." and of course I had no idea what she was mumbling at the end part but still. I FELT IT. Seriously though, I was starting to understand the power of friendship. I wanted it.

My step-dad and I had a huge physical fight and I called my dad begging to come live with him. He was a hot-totally-not-sober-anymore mess but my next store neighbor was my first friend that I felt close to and spent a lot of time with. I'M SO ANNOYED that I don't remember her name. Her parents were rich to me so they had everything. Laser disc, a pool, and MTV. She took dance classes and told me about the choir at her school. We picked which of one of the Green Day band members was our boyfriend. Mine was of course the Drummer, Tre Cool (damn him for getting married and not waiting for me to grow up!!) because he was funny and of course, cool. He sang the song "I'm all by myself" which I thought was adorable and totally not stalkery and gross at all. Her's was of course Billie Joe because he was the lead and she was the lead in our friendship. She taught me about wearing a bra and makeup even though I was still tomboying it up all the way. She listened to me about my dad problems, and she had her family stuff of her own. We ate at school together until I started becoming a full-on baby barrette wearing garage-band groupie -grunge-head. The kids interested in Nirvana called to me. I heeded their melancholy, half-broken but pasted together, angst-ridden, sighs.

This is how I stumbled in to the "crew" type of friendship. When I came back (again, different town) my sister was wearing flannel shirts and writing dark poetry, but it was much brighter for me. I was starting to lose my mind the fun way and giving less and less fucks about it. My friends and I smoked cigarettes and skipped class. The crew had a few rotating members who taught me about guitar, obscure singer-songwriters, and the beat generation. We read the dictionary for fun and then proceeded to smoke all our brains away. We laughed about the possibility of snipers in the trees and how crazy it was to say, "I love fall the best of all" like the old lady that walked through our empty park that we spent most of our time in. We went to bonfire parties on the river but pretended to be over it and wrote group poetry instead. We dated each other mindlessly and totally awkwardly because sometimes one person was in love with the one while the one was in love with another but then they would all change their minds at the same time. We didn't understand love but we understood that it could be magical and our hormones made a mess of the rest. Personally, I cried a lot and they forgave me for it.

There was a lot of different people that I chilled with as part of that crew. They came and went. Some were too boring and some were too involved with things I will just describe as creepy. My first "bestie" looked like the girl with black hair from the breakfast club. When she came to our school she had a pierced nose and an amazing CD collection. Everyone wanted to date her, including the guy that I liked at the time. So I just focused on being her friend. Sadly she taught me about skipping breakfast but with her I wrote my first song. She told me about her family which was really tough too and we laughed about how stupid adults are for screwing up so badly at life. She and I weren't really in a band, but somehow making music in her vicinity helped me be courageous enough to start singing in front of all the music/party crowd (which included my older sisters friends). She could draw cool faeries and she introduced me to her friend who later became my next best friend when she moved away. Seamlessly my party bestie changed but our lives remained the same. I met some people from a new town with a heavy arts pull and lots of hippy-raver-punk mixes. All the "weirdo's" hung together in Eastern Oregon. They probably still do. It's a survival technique. We had to save each other from sad church ladies who wanted us to wear pumps and stop painting our nails black. Unfortunately things got messy and my friendships turned into drug/party-ships. I still connect with most of them on Facebook and I love them dearly, but at some point everyone has to try and be an adult. Most of us moved to Portland but others went elsewhere.

Since then I slowly became a lone wolf. For short periods I would have a selection of friends. I never really did well online but I have been spending time online since windows 98, AOL online and MSN chat rooms. It was a very messy way to cultivate human connection.

I finally found my first real friend again in 2003 (;) its me), long enough to sober up and go to community college. They let me sing and talk to myself and I graduated with a handful of people that I think are pretty amazing although our friendships lasted mostly during the time that we went to school together.

Some day I am going to learn to be concise. I am tired of myself now.

All this comes to the tidy concept that friendship is messy and complex and I have never really learned how to manage one over a long period. This is strange because though many people think of me as very independent, I highly value friendships, connection, and communication. All this moving around and being torn from people didn't toughen me up. It didn't make me stronger. To this day I see how vulnerable I am and how much power I give others because I want to make amends over all disagreements.

The past few years I have been finding my inner wild-child and trying to figure how to get her out without drugs and alcohol or pretending I am 16. I wonder if this whole friendship thing is helpful for that or if its a complication.

*Quote from "Lithium" by Nirvana


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