Little Thought

Today I was thinking what else to pack for my trip to Australia. I then remembered that I should call Becky’s mom to ask what she needs me to bring along to give to Becky. I was imagining myself on the phone, then I envisioned Ms. Bonnie in my apartment, giving me whatever she needed to give me. Then when I visualized giving her a great big hug, I started to cry. I can’t quite grasp how hard it must be to have a child across the world. Thank goodness for Skype. But still, my heart broke a little. There’s no doubt I miss Becky, but I don’t think I can miss Becky the way Becky’s mom misses Becky.

I’m grateful for the perspective.


Dear Australia,

Right now, over where you are, it’s Becky’s birthday.

If she had remained single up to this point, she would have “graduated” up to the family ward at church. You swept her up and saved her in the nick of time.

And, you took her from me. But hey, I can’t do anything about that. I wouldn’t have tried, seeing how abundantly happy she is.

You know what, though, Barry? I get to see her in a month.

I’ve been planning this for a long time, and with each passing day I get increasingly excited. I know you know what that’s like, because I’ve seen you count down the days when Becky would become a fixture in your life. I’m genuinely happy for you. I know you’re treating her well. I know she’s thriving and loving her new life and counting her blessings, even though she has to start numerous rounds on her fingers and toes to try keeping track.

When I think of Becky’s birthday, I think of my time with her in New York City. Movies and books and dinners and exploring the city with friends. And videos. And happy tears. Lots of laughter. True quality time. It was with that time I felt almost deceptive, because her presence was a far bigger gift than anything I could ever dream of giving to her.

It’s Becky’s birthday! Show her a great time, Barry. I know you’re making her as happy as she deserves to be. I know you’re more than capable of filling the next month with richness and bounty.

Then, I’d like a turn. If that’s okay.

I love you, Barry.

But, I loved Becky first.

Happy Birthday, girl.


Another Letter, Again

Dear Australia,


I know I said I was done writing you, but I just finished watching my best friend’s wedding videos, and I am weeping. I’m sure you’ve seen what a beautiful bride and wife she is. Of course you have.

It’s incredible, the different and disparate paths our lives take. The Lord definitely guides us – if we let Him – to where we need to be.

It’s Palm Sunday here, and my gratitude is overflowing.

I’m glad Becky and I got to talk on the phone a couple of weeks ago. The signal was clear, and she didn’t seem as far away.

It makes me happy to see my friends really, truly in love. I think back to that January morning in the temple and all the true and righteous choices that led to her marriage. What a beautiful day! What a wonderful life! She inspires me.

Becky loves and gives and understands and cherishes. I’m so blessed to have her friendship. She’s been there for me pretty much since we first met almost six years ago, and I can always count on her for her support.

Keep me posted, Barry. I’ll see you soon.


The Last in the Series of Missives

Dear Australia,

It is done.

I can’t describe my feelings, not properly, not with any sort of justice or eloquence.

I miss her. The ache stabs. It burns. It wrings and gouges and shreds. The void has too much power.

My mind flashes memories of our walking the city streets, her dodging cafe umbrellas while I walk under them with plenty of clearance. Our standing at intersections, watching her eyes, intent as sentinels, on the traffic, so I, too, would know when to cross.

My mind reaches back to our first meeting, in November 2004, where she stood somewhat aloof while an old friend and I caught up. We explored Midtown that day in the pouring rain.

One time I called her while babysitting for a family in my ward, close to five years ago. We talked of fast friendship, and maybe Star Trek. We laughed.

Movies, music, massages, mail returns. City strolls and subway stunts and Serendipity and award-winning cinema. Rats and road trips, and simply rejoicing in each other’s company.

Tears and turmoil. Laughter, love.

I was there when she began falling in love. I knew it would run its course, and I know the course has not yet ended. It has only begun.

She’s married, five days now, going on forever.

In Australia.

You, Barry: I blame you.

I want her back. I need her back. I need her smiling eyes and steady presence and her gentle voice to reassure me. I need to exchange knowing smirks, as I look up and she looks down, of our juxtaposed heights and the seeming paradox of the not-so-well-kept secret that we are, undoubtedly, the very, very best of friends.

That’s why she let me win at miniature golf. That’s why I don’t make fun of her anymore for mistaking Bono for Bon Jovi. That’s why the individual time we spent together back in September and October, before I up and left, I treasure beyond anything in this world. That’s why the chasm in my chest pushes so relentlessly against the rest of my heart. I just can’t stand being away. And now, so very far away.

She looked incredible in white, though. She looked completely happy with her groom.

And the groom? I trust him. He’s good and kind and funny and totally committed to giving Becky the very best life he can.

I fully support that.

Maybe I’ll just let my mind continue to reach, to fathom the past five years and the culminating events that bring us to now and into eternity.

We’ll share her instead.


With my deepest gratitude,

The Past 24 Hours

Let me start with 1,000 words:

Where else would I be looking? IN THE MIRRORS. What, you say? The mirrors are behind me? Guess what. They’re also where I’m looking in the photo. The mirrors facing each other showed infinite reflections. It’s a neat effect. I’m not deliberately ignoring the boy, if that’s what you’re thinking.

I’ll post more pictures later. It was a fun party. If you weren’t there, I wish you could have been.

Today, Becky and I:

-picked up a Zipcar at noon
-went to IKEA in Elizabeth, NJ (whenever I hear the name of that town, I think of my high school friend, Becky Fraser)
-shopped until 4:30, where we picked up 7′ bookcases and transported them ourselves
-shopped for other fun things for Becky’s new apartment, like a giant frosted vase that looks like a narrow flask
-dropped the IKEA things off at Becky’s new apartment around 5:00
-gathered some belongings I left behind and drove up to Inwood around 5:50
-returned the Zipcar around 7:00
-ate dinner
-moved the remaining things from the old apartment to Becky’s new apartment
-had one last sweep of the apartment
-walked toward the light switch by the door
-said goodbye to Kool-Aid man

I threw away Kool-Aid man
Then, Becky said something and put her hand on the light switch.
I put my hand on the light switch.
We turned off the light to that apartment together.
My eyes blinked away tears.
We closed the door behind us.
We turned in the keys.
We watched Flight of the Conchords on YouTube on Becky’s computer.
I came home.

Day one of 2009 was productive and tiring, but gratifying.

Too bad I have to work on day two.

Without Facebook, I Wouldn’t Have As Many Chances to Embarrass Myself

Four feet, ten inches. I reached that height when I was about 12. Maybe 13. Then I stayed there. I knew I wasn’t going to be tall as an adult. My mom was short – 4’9″.

As a kid in elementary school, I always watched the kids playing basketball on my way home from school. It looked fun.

It was probably all the bouncing. Bouncing on the court. That’s called dribbling. Bouncing off the backboard. That’s called lucky. It looked like it took a fair amount of control. Even at that age I liked the idea of being in charge like that.

I tried out for the basketball team in 8th grade. I stayed after school for tryouts. Running the mile before drills. Layups, passing, calling plays. Sprints the length of the court.

Not too many other girls tried out, and it didn’t seem too far-fetched that I would make the team.

I made the team. They announced the names the next morning after a week of tryouts.

I didn’t have all that much skill. All the bouncing I watched when I was younger took much more control than I had. Still, I dribbled halfway decently and could weave around people just fine.

My height required me to be scrappy. I chased after the ball, even when we played man-on-man. I’d manage a steal sometimes.

My foul shot was pretty solid.

It was fun being on a sports team. I’d come home from practice and do my homework and practice the clarinet and then spend the rest of the time until I fell asleep going over plays and thinking of ways to improve.

I was in the best shape of my life then. That was the year I actually earned the Presidential physical fitness award. I didn’t even feel sore or fatigued after practice. 8th grade. 13 years old. Almost 20 years ago.

We won our first game that season. It was a nailbiter, and we were behind at halftime, and Coach Gilmore gave an amazing speech to us in the locker room.

I sat the bench this game. It was too close to let a first-year player go in. The other team stayed ahead for most of the second half, but we steadily caught up.

It got down to the wire, a one-point game, five seconds left. Our ball. Pass, dribble, pass, dribble. Drive to the basket. Shoot. Score. Buzzer. Pretty incredible. One of the coolest experiences of my life.

All-county auditions happened to be the same night as that first game. I tried calling my parents to let them know I’d be at the game instead of auditions.

They’d already taken off to the school holding the auditions, Orange Park Junior High. And I didn’t have a way to get over there from Wilkinson Junior High.

The game ended, and Dad walked into the gym looking pretty angry.

I was off the team. I had to quit.

My first and only school basketball game. Pretty awesome from the bench.

I left my uniform in the locker the next day. I told Coach Gilmore I couldn’t be on the team anymore. Then I had to explain to Mr. Coleman why I didn’t audition for All-County Band.

If I had to do it again, I’d make sure my parents knew I’d be at the game instead of auditions. Then maybe I would have gotten to play later in the season. Then 10-15 years later, I’d be the only 4’10” player in the world playing professional basketball.

The photos are from Tracy (Rood) Zang’s yearbook. She scanned them into facebook.

Who else would be holding the ball?
Who else would be holding the ball?
I look the same. I do not understand this.
I look the same. I do not understand this. I am boxing out no one here. BEAUTIFUL jump shot, though.