Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dates and Time

Today is the birthday of Kurt's late brother, Kim.  He would have been sixty years old today.  I couldn't imagine him at sixty as he lived by the  phrase, "Live hard, die young and leave a good looking corpse".  He did all of those things.  Still, I wonder if he would have been different staring pending retirement, and grandfatherhood squarely in the face.....Kim lived in California when I met Kurt and our wedding week was the first time I ever met him.  I heard all the stories and knew the background.  He was charming and spoke with a California drawl.  He was unlike both of his brothers, but very much a combination of both.  The night of Kurt's bachelor party at a township hall down from my house, he played cards and got so drunk he fell asleep with his head on a stove burner in the kitchen.  When I went over to Kurt's parent's house the next day, (they were both up North at their cottage), Kim was secreted away in one of the bedrooms with someone he had met after the party.  That was pretty much Kim, at least to me.  He remarried a few years later, had a second son almost 20 years younger than his first, and tragically died riding a motorcycle into a path of a car on a California highway at night.  So, I never knew this brother in law, Kim, who shared a name with my brother, Kim, (what a coincidence, one of many about my and Kurt's life intersecting), and always thought of him as the charming brother who never wanted to live to grow old, and he didn't....
For years I would confuse his birthday with my freshmen college roommate's, who's birthday is the 6th of April.  Why when I have forgotten so many other things, far more important do I remember the birthday of a person who I have not talked to in almost 30 years is beyond me, but I do remember it and seldom does the date pass by that I don't remember, Debbi, and what a riotous good time we had that first half of our freshmen year at Alma College.
Going away to college was a huge deal to me in 1972.  I was the first in my family to go to college and even though Alma College was a scant hour drive away, I would be living in the dorms and staying there, I, a person who didn't even like to overnight at my cousin's house when a child.  I never intended to live anywhere else than close to where I had grown up, and thought college was just something I would do in the meantime, as I needed a career at that point, and was "too smart" to just take an office job.  I am sure Mom and Dad were proud to send me off to college, proud that I had earned enough in scholarship money to pay all but the room and board fee.  Proud that their child was moving away from the expected life of many at that time, but apprehensive, because it was after all, me, who got homesick very easily, and had only a failed aunt's one semester attempt at Michigan State University to relate to. 
I don't remember any of that, just that this was a new adventure with no certain outcome and I was by turns, terrified and excited.  The roommate situation was probably upper most on my mind.  I had no friends going to Alma so I specified no roommate preference.  I was sent Debbi's name about mid summer and her Saginaw address.  We corresponded once back and forth just to kind of acquaint ourselves with each other and sent a senior picture. 
Mom was the one who took me to college that first week when freshmen were on campus before the rest of upper level students arrived.  I had packed and repacked and had rather a car full of "stuff" as I remember.  I even remember what I wore that first day moving in, how weird is that?  Debbi was all ready there with her grandma with whom she lived and had unpacked a great deal already.  I can't say what her reaction of me was but I remember thinking, "she was nice enough".   Her sister who was a senior at Alma popped in and she had a friend from high school who lived at the other end of our dorm, so she was well acquainted with people already and seemed at ease on campus.  I was just the opposite.  I and Mom unloaded the car and after an hour, Mom said goodbye and left me to my new life.  My exciting new life seemed kind of hollow right then but I unpacked and Debbi and I chatted.  By evening though she was off with her friends to walk uptown to a small bar that catered to the college kids.  She invited me along, but I didn't really know anyone, and being me, I said I was tired and stayed in.  I won't lie that first night was rough and I was terribly homesick, but it got better everyday after that, until I was more comfortable at school than back at home where my old friends had scattered and we were all doing different things. 
Debbi and I slowly started a friendship that by the Christmas break was strong.  She had me over to her home during the break and invited me to parties with her then boyfriend.  Some of my best college memories are the wacky things we did, she and I that first semester of college.  I'd like to say, it went on that way all through but in the second semester things changed.  Not for the worst as I look back on it now, but at the time it seemed my new world had a large crack in it.  After Christmas into the second of a 3 semester year at Alma, Debbi broke up with her boyfriend, who went to Western Michigan.  I only knew Mike through Debbi and he was distraught and turned to me for answers, of which I could give him none.  It boiled down to Mike was a rebound guy for Debbi who had dated another guy through much of high school, and that break up before I knew her had devestated her.  Oh the drama...
Debbi immediately began dating someone else and going around with the girl next door to us as both of their boyfriends were friends.  Patty had no roommate then as a girl from high school she knew, and had planned on rooming with was involved in a bad motorcycle accident and couldn't start until the third semester.  When Dianne did start school, and she and Patty lived together, it didn't take any of us long to realize that pairing wasn't going to work.  They fought every time they were together and finally our R.A. suggested a room switch with Debbi moving in with Patty, and Dianne coming to live with me.  I was devestated, as this was set up without my knowledge and I remember crying long and hard about it, which now seems so stupid, but young girls are young girls complete with all the emotions. 
The switch settled in and Dianne and I got along very well, though it was never the fun, Debbi and I had, had that first semester and what made so many special memories for us.  After that first year things changed, Dianne and I roomed together a second year but then I switched dorms and roommates, Debbi left Alma for a year to go to a junior college before returning our senior year.  We moved on.  We kept in touch right up to her getting married after she finished college to that first love she had had in high school.  I was married and already a mom then.  After she married and moved away we lost touch, and have never found each other again, but I still remember her birthday on April 6th, and still occassionally get out the book she made me for my birthday our first year, rooming together, a book of handwritten poems and other sayings she treasured...
"Time it was, and what a time it was... a time of innocence, a time of confidences...
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph. preserve your memories.  They're all that's left me..."

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