Sunday, August 01, 2004

Losing the Color Smog

I realized last night that there really was a reason for all my foolish depressive drooping this weak, and that I'd been blocking it from my head like an idiot. Or maybe I was just too wrapped up in Fiona and plans for the October trip and Crystal's wedding and writing and fighting with my brother, and oh, a thousand other things I'd rather think about. But there I was, laying in the darkness while Fi struggled against sleep, and it hit me: Smog is leaving me this week. I'm losing my best friend.

Best friend is an understatement. We met through our sorority, a nominal sisterhood with ties as strong as blood (that sounds dramatic, but watch a group of elderly women at a college reunion, and you'll see what I mean). We were roommates for 6 years, and in that time period, we took most of the same classes, and then upon graduation from school, worked forthe same company. We shared a library card. We watched most of the same movies and read most of the same books--if one of us saw/read something without the other and liked it, we shared it with the other one. We had the same friends. We spoke in unison. At work, we emailed each other over 30 times a day to exchange ideas and thoughts about customers and co-workers. We shared holidays with each other's families. We had the same haircuts, the same glasses (not exactly, but near enough to creep us out--and it was unintentional!). People called us twins.

We have the basically the same ethnic background (Germans from eastern Washington), and shared academic interests (music, living history, literature). Because we started in similiar places, and filled our lives with all the same details, we shared one world. One world for two people. And it was cool, because we understood each other effortlessly; we each knew just how the other person would react to any scenario; we knew just how to make each other happy. We could also exclude everybody else, who didn't know our little language and who couldn't take part in our universe.

Sometimes I was desperate to get away from Smog. It was hard to create an identity for myself within our little world, and it was hard behave sanely within such a closed circuit. And then I had Fi, and I was thrown out of my tiny universe into a much smaller one that only occasionally intersected with anyone else's. But Smog was there with us a lot of the time. The connection--the shared world--still existed. We just had to schedule visits to it.

But now she's crossing the country to start her new life, and she'll meet a ton of new people and learn a ton of new stuff. It's wonderful. I've been so excited for her, and happy for myself, too. I knew we were separating into our own special selves, and it seems right. We'll always be friends--we're certain of it. There's no way we'll let ourselves completely drift apart. It's only our planet that will crumble.

Without the constant reinforcement of shared experiences--one cast, one crew, one setting--there's no way our little world can maintain its borders. It's already mostly gone; I just hadn't checked before. The landmarks we built together are no more than nostalgic memories. Palio, Caswell, Cactus Club, Papa Haydn, Arco; Todd, Charles, the funny man at Laurelhurst, Mr. White Keys; little cookies, breakfast ring, lemon bars, taco night with the Anderson's. The Flys, Soul Coughing, and ever and always the American Girls. They fade away like smoke after closing time, leaving only the faint whiff of history behind them.

Well, every band breaks up. They leave their old albums behind them and go forward to create something new, something more meaningful to their artistic vision. But their legacy lives on in our CD collections and our hearts. So I'll throw on the Glory Daze soundtrack and think of the times we've spent together, my best friend and I. We were the best band of all time, black and white keys on the same keyboard.

Good luck and love, Smoggi.

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