Monday, July 23, 2007

Stories of Friendship - R. (Part 1)

Picture from http://www.fairfield.edu

I forget how we met. Oh wait, Biology, my freshman year. We were in the same class. In my high school it was mixed ages in some classes, since there wasn’t much of a sequence to the sciences. She is older than me by about two years, but was held back a year so while I was in 9th grade, she was in 10th. There were other people in there that were ‘older’ and cooler too. One, I forget her name, my goodness, where is my mind? But I hung out with her a lot. We’d go to her house and she’d get drunk while we played nine men’s morris. We were partnered a lot in Biology and for one experiment we had to place a live fish under the microscope. She kept stirring up the beaker and I was getting upset that she was traumatizing the fish needlessly. Then I saved him from her and started singing ‘fish out of troubled water’ and she couldn’t get it out of her head.

There was another time when we had to dissect the live frog. I refused to do it but instead of taking the F this girl let me copy her work. I do remember thinking it was cool though when its heart was still beating on the scalpel. When we put coffee on it, it beat faster (that was part of the experiment).

Anyway, that is how R. and I met. It turned out we lived close to each other so we were walking home, saw each other, and started talking. She had a keychain that said, “how a woman is like the discovery of the U.S.” or something, about how at first they are exciting but soon become run-down. I thought it was funny at the time, if a little ribald. I was invited for dinner that night and went, it’s always nice to go to someone else’s house.

We studied a lot together, she had problems with schoolwork and I found out this was her second year taking biology. Back then, they hadn’t lowered the Regent’s state mandated test scores like they have now, so it was harder to pass. I worked with her a lot. We’d sit in the little strip of land in the middle of the roads to concentrate. There was a study guide we had to buy, I couldn’t afford it so the teacher had given me his. With it, he gave me an answer sheet so I’d know my progress.

The day we went in to take the test she and I were the first to arrive. This meant the pick of the seats. I went in and the first chair I sat in the legs gave out. This made me laugh hysterically. I joke about my weight, but while I have always been heavyset never THAT big. So after the laughter we set the chair back up – noticed how it was rigged – and waited for someone else.

I think she just passed that test by one point- but that was enough to pass the class.

Her mother was the real gem. Old world Italian she spoke very little English. R. told me that she had only up to a third grade education. She cooked and cleaned and forced you to eat and admonished her children when they did badly in school and absolutely loved her garden and later, their dog.

There was also an older brother. His voice was like cats being tossed at a blackboard. He had many learning disabilities. It was hard sometimes to talk to him because I couldn’t take his voice at all.

I couldn’t stand her father. He was big and gruff and always yelling at everyone, and was very sexualized. There were signs of pornography around the house. He refused to let his wife learn English – even when we had found out free classes were being taught at a local school. Her job was to cook and clean and care for him as well as bring in some money. She worked in factory jobs mostly, steam press and other textile things. I remember asking her about it once. She sighed and said, “He’s my husband.”

R. and I had a lot of fun riding our bikes all over the city, studying together, playing video games on her computer. She had compuserve – one of those initial internet providers – so that was a novelty. Her father also spent hundreds of dollars on telephone psychics, so we talked about that a lot. There was a time when she slipped down her stairs, twisted her ankle, and needed an air cast. Shortly after that I twisted mine on a welcome mat and ended up in her air cast.

We shared what we could, mainly junk food, and her mother always had a place for me at the dinner table. There was a time period when my brother went completely off the handle, more so than usual, and I remember walking to her house, in a blizzard, my school books in tow. My mother laughed that in my hurry to pack I left the clothes until last, but education was way more important to me than fashion. Her mother took me in with open arms.

6 comments:

Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

Isn't it amazing how, without any conscieous thought at all, kids find themselves an adoptive family to limp them through their childhoods? I always befriended kids that I ended up loving the parents of. Seems you also found some special family to let in on the outside of, to warm your sensibilities by the hearth..

Beautiful writing, but I've come to expect no less from you..

Amel's Realm said...

Ahhhh...interesting story.

I also remember the Biology lab experiments in Junior High School. Dissecting house lizard, frog, fish...mmmm...but there were around 5 people in a group, so I didn't have to do it myself he he he...

I agree with Shrink. I LOVE the way you write your stories. :-D

Btw, RU feeling better now than during the weekend? HOPE SO!!!

Victorya said...

shrink- thanks for the compliments! I feel they are so - just there sometimes.

And yeah, in my younger days I was more friends with people for their parents :)

Amel - I'm feeling slightly better, thanks. I had the worst dream sat/sunday and woke up crying which I haven't done in yaers, but am starting to get over it all. Of course, now it's pouring rain here. Maybe it will wash away all the bad vibes.

dawn said...

Really nice story , it reminded me of my best friend from florida(i grew up here)I actually moved into her moms house when she got married.

Amel's Realm said...

Hi, Vic!!!

Glad you're feeling slightly better. At least there's improvement. Hope today's better than yesterday again. And yeah, let the rain wash away all the bad vibes. Btw, it's raining here too. ;-D

Amel's Realm said...

Maybe you'd love to read this story:

http://shinade.blogspot.com/2007/07/reflections-of-early-years.html