This girl I knew in high school sent out a Facebook message asking for inspiration. I don’t know why. I’m not sure I need to. We’ve added each other as “friends,” but haven’t taken the time to really reconnect. I gather from her posts and open conversations that she has two young children who take up a lot of her time. She’s out in DC now, far from our Colorado home. I thought about what kind of inspiration to offer, which of my favorite quotes to send her, but all that came to mind were memories of her, back in the day.
Kathy was a friend of a friend, really. Much more Kristy’s friend than mine. But Kathy was so funky and cool that I glommed on, tagging along with them like a third wheel little sister. I was content that they let me. Kathy had this way of being unconsciously artsy. She danced this kind of modified Charleston I’m sure she made up, that involved kicking up her legs and swinging her arms to meet them. Doing this, she would spin in a wild wheel around the dance floor to the tail end of British punk we still milked in the early 80s. It was a dance of full-on joy in the music, a dance I ruthlessly ripped off when I went to college, where no one would know I had stolen it. It served me well for years. And I always remembered Kathy, her flame-red hair, her full immersion in life, when I danced.
Kathy lived in a funky house, too, off Parker Road in the Denver suburbs. The city was still spreading out to our area back then. The highway leading out to the town of Parker was becoming a road, with stoplights and intersections linking to housing developments. But Kathy lived in a house that had been built according to no five-model plan, but sat among fields in a curve of the road where it passed the Highline Canal. I went to a Halloween party at her house and went walking in the frosty stubbled fields with my first love. In my mind, I always gave Kathy credit for that, too, that she held the party that let me be with him, that let me dress up in a romantic costume, all the better to catch his eye.
I remember another of Kathy’s parties. Maybe I went on a trip back from college and her family had moved. All I really recall is Kathy’s certainty that a hot band that was playing locally would come to the party at some point. We hung out for hours, Kathy so certain that they would arrive, as they’d promised. Kristy was her emotional counterpoint, sure that the evening would end in disappointment. I remember Kathy crying, the way the heart-broken do. The way that only those who completely give their hearts and hopes can.
Her picture tells me she hasn’t changed. This is probably illusion. Just because she has the same wild red hair, and the funky cat’s eye glasses that proclaim her a suicide-girl under the skin, doesn’t mean that she has the same joy in life that she did at 17. But she holds a camera in her hands, and the sly smile is the same. She’s also posted some amazing art on the ‘net. Perhaps with a darker edge than I might have seen in high school. It’s an edge I like. I’m really not supposed to be buying art right now, but I might have to.
Then I’d get to tell people the artist is my friend and I can still be a little cool, by association.