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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Back from the Mountain

Well, after two long plane trips, two ten-hour road trips, and two gondola rides, I'm back home. See, I was at a dear friend's wedding in Minnesota. She was married on a mountain summit overlooking Lake Superior, and the event was beautiful.

But what was really wonderful about the weekend was the chance to be with my college friends again. To laugh continuously for four days in a row is a beautiful experience.

My friends from college are some of the most creative and quick-witted people I know. We spent at least 25 minutes analyzing this sign and its accompanying wall mural portraying the Wreck of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald (outside a liquor store in Grand Marais, Minnesota).

Toddy: How did all 29 men lose Captain McSorley? You'd think someone could find him.

Curfew: Especially since he was 729 feet long.

I could write out a detailed transcript of the lengthy discourse we shared, but it would be impossible to convey the humor. Truly, you had to be there.

Inane conversations like that one are the norm for us. There is something not quite right about the way our brains operate, and the condition seems to become even more pronounced when we're reunited.

We went to a small college in Kentucky located in Wilmore, a town of about 5000 people. There was nothing to do there, so we created our own fun. "Wear Your Hair a Different Way to Dinner Night", for example. Buttercup stuck wire hangers in her braids a la Pippi Longstocking, and then she dangled bunches of green grapes on both braids. We formed a volleyball team, The Mad Sheep, for the sole purpose of making a mockery of intramural sports. (Our cheer before every game was, "Sheep! Sheep! Sheep! No Wool! BAAA!)

I printed my team number (my social security number) on the back of my jersey. Curfew's number was her telephone number. John's number was .08, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration in Kentucky. Blue's number was 3.14159...

The Mad Sheep ended up taking second place in the volleyball tournament.

We'd have spontaneous picnics in the cemetery. We gave each other topics on which to speak extemporaneously about for 5 minutes, and the rest of the group would pretend to be vehemently passionate about the subject. As the designated orator stood on a concrete pedestal proclaiming the greatness of paper clips, the rest of us would wildly cheer and applaud in agreement.

Wonder Twin and I would lay out in the sun right after lunch every day. Since we only had 10 minutes, we would spread out on our backs fully dressed on the sidewalk in front of the Psychology building from 12:50 to 1:00. People stepped over us on the way to class and shook their heads.

Now, almost 20 years later, we live all over the country and only gather together once every 5 or 10 years. We gather for weddings or special events whenever possible. There is always someone who can't make it, so the truth is we'll probably never all be together again. But even two Mad Sheep in the same room makes for hilarity. And such love. These friends love me so much, and I them.

On the plane back to Portland, I listened to my iPod and heard the song "Kind Friend" by Indigo Girls. "Hey, kind friend, I don't know when I'll see you again." The lyrics hit me hard in a way they've never done before. "Kind friend, help me forget where I've been. Kind friend, help me remember who I am."

I turned my face to the window and tried to look out at the clouds, but all I could see was a blur of tears against the bright sky.

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