once upon a time there was a boy named jeffrey. he was 16 and in high school at moorhead senior high. their mascot was the moorhead spuds. jeffrey was dating a girl named karen. jeffrey's best friend jamie was dating karen's best friend, leah. jeffrey's other best friend jon got shoved off to the sidelines in an unfortunate way. retribution kind of came their senior year.
the match-up of jeff-karen and jamie-leah was an interesting one, because jeff and leah were of a more conservative outlook, while jamie and karen viewed life quite liberally.
karen was a good high school girlfriend. looking back at the cards and gifts saved, it is easy to think of it as a sunny, pastoral time. and in many ways, it was. but as one moves from shoebox mementos to journal entries after we broke up, the other side of reality appears; it wasn't all sunshine and butterflies.
around the same time, jamie and leah broke up, too. shortly thereafter, the girls graduated high school [the whole concept of dating someone younger than me never really sank in until a few semesters into college], jamie went to europe with some college kids and came back too cool for us*, and jon and i have been best friends since.
in that awkward time when i had been dumped [and before there was the ben folds five song to sing along to], i talked with leah some. i tend to fall apart over girls [those of you from the middle ages of 104 may understand], and she was great to talk to. her outlook on life was solid, she was kind and understanding and reasonable. she provided tranquility and sensibility.
there are a lot of good people in the world, and i have been fortunate to meet several of them. while making any sort of list of the neatest people i have known would be silly and arbitrary, leah is one of the greats. she worked as an editor for the school newspaper, and always wrote really cool editorial columns; we used to stay after school for hours to help proofread, and i would draw cartoons and illustrations as needed. she didn't do theatre or choir with the rest of us, but she always came to the performances; she was in band with us, although i forget what instrument she played; her graduation open-house had the best punch of the year; she was the more subdued between her and karen, the kind of person that could be easily overlooked, but never forgotten. reserved but clever and kind and wise, she was truly cool.
once when she was dating jamie, i told her that i loved her, but '...in a friendly sort of way.' that was an in-joke with us from then on.
we exchanged e-mails when she went off to the university of minnesota, and i am grateful that i saved some of those [this was back in the days when e-mail was only for copmuter nerds and college students and was primitive at best; there was no real archival system--i think i was using aol 3.0, or maybe the short-lived local service, 'prairie on-line']. we lost touch a year or so later, and despite several attempts, i have never been able to find her again.
time is a very interesting sorting machine. music, events, movies, memories, and people that seem quintessential at the minute can get lost within an hour, while the influence of others is not immediately apparent. onlly after the winds have blown away the loose sand is that which is of most worth often revealed.
there are really cool people all throughout life; as i try to think of them, each name brings another one, until i am flooded by great people i have met.
hooray for awesome people.
*the loss of jamie has always been for me one of the greatest tragedies of my life; i have never met anyone like him: his outlook on life, his humor, style, and even handwriting were all original [i tried to make my handwriting like his- the influence is there]. he seemed to be about a step ahead and a little to the left of cool. our junior year he broke away from me and jon [although we did all go see 'they might be giants' open for hootie and the blowfish in the fall; when tmbg finished, we stood outside calling for them while hootie was inside--to see tmbg was our dream since we met in sixth grade], and moved to a theatre school in the twin cities for his senior year. i've had lunch with his parents once or twice since then, but haven't seen him in over 8 years.