I got a myspace message from jess on sunday night with "LA" as the subject. why the hell is she writing me about LA? i only loved that city for 2 weeks, when amy johnsgaard showed me the sights from an insider's perspective, that was the only time i ever had any love for that city, so i was kinda confused. But as it turned out, lala was in town. a bit of background:
Lala and i dated for a while when i lived in la maison de la francophonie, oberlin's french house. needless to say, though the passion was strong and the fire between us unforgettable, we fought all the time, especially when i was studying for latin tests, which was never. in moments of solace we listened to the brahms piano quartets--the g minor rocks man--and made out in talcott. i haven't seen lala in 10 years, since i graduated in 1998 when she popped out of the clouds and said hey jackson.
Jess and i also dated, a few years after lala and i did. again, another short, brilliant star burning so quickly. she broke up with me when i brought her orange juice. but there was more to it than that. but still. . . anyway, since i moved back to chicago, i've hung out with her a few times and i've absolutely loved it. her husband is this tall tibetan buddhist white guy with a shaved head who's sharp, funny and smart. and they're great together.
Eventually lala and jess became close friends, along with anca, another girl i dated--and i SWEAR i'm not making this up--who was this fabulous romanian gipsy of a woman who played the violin, talked like betty boop and smoked cigarettes like a drunk russian gambler. i later called their group of friends jackson's ex-girlfriend club, cuz they were always showing up in strange places when i was on a date with another girl, like at campus diner, the co-op bookstore, in front of wilder, at lunch at dascomb. . . But i digress as always. the point is, i lost contact with jess and lala for a while, and i was really bummed out about that, but after almost 10-11 years, jess and i reconnected and went on some double dates, and suddenly, lala is in chicago for one night.
We meet up at lula's cafe in logos and as we ate tangine and peanut noodles and drank soft red wine (including a bordeaux we didn't order, but hey, je m'en fiche, ça m'est égal really) we talked about our whole lives for hours and hours, reminiscing about our time at oberlin, how we met, when we first started dating, why we broke up, the places we've traveled to, the people we've met and loved and gotten crushed by along the way, the half-life of memories, we distilled old experiences and tasted them again, many for the first time in 12 years, and it was incredible seeing them, comparing our lives:
1. Jess teaching in honduras, traveling to india, becoming a buddhist, earning a JD and a MA from indiana university, falling in love with josh, moving from boston to chicago, doing pro bono work
2. Lala, getting her MA at berkeley, entering the foreign service, living in nepal, tibet and now colombia for USAID
3. Me, teaching english in burkina faso for the peace corps, traveling to azerbaijan, turkey, italy, arriving in france on the day of the iraq occupation, teaching literacy to hispanic and black kids for americorps, getting my MFA at notre dame in creative writing, my imminent move to spain
I really want to say this about them: I was so happy and proud to see two of my dear friends and see what strong, intelligent, compassionate, intriguing, complex, dynamic, evolved, kind and ever so beautiful and strong women they have become. it was not only a celebration of intersection, the decay of memory, the resurrection of historical narrative, and the mysterious joy and movement of friendship, but also a celebration of each other. i felt so much pride and love for both of them, for the journey they have taken, and the worlds they have lived in.
Here we are for one perfect night, sharing our lives together, braiding them together together in conversation