“Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine.” ~Robert C. Gallaher
“Change is inevitable.” I hate that quote and I hate vending machines even more. If things are bad, they will change. Okay, I like that. But if things are good, they will change, too. Hold on.
There are so many great moments that I don’t want to say good-bye to. Times where I’m laughing so hard my lungs are burning or my heart is so full of love, I can’t imagine waking up the next morning and knowing that impeccable instant is behind me… floating somewhere in space where I can’t reach it anymore.
I remember my first encounter with change. I was ten. So far, life was completely under control and when it wasn’t, mom would fly in with her red cape and fix it. Homework was in the green folder, birthdays were always special and my best friend was Laura.
She was the redhead I’d known since “friend” first came into my vocabulary. We met in preschool. We slept in the same bed every weekend and built elaborate forts in my bookshelves and under the fruit trees. She was brilliant and laughed like a chipmunk. She made faces in every picture. Gosh, she was so much cooler than me.
We went to different schools when we hit first grade. Whatever. We lived for Friday. Nothing would ever change our sisterhood.
We both loved the theatre, so when this beautiful booklet arrived in the mail advertising a two week acting camp in sunny California, we doubled up on the pleading sessions and persuaded our parents to send us away. Fourteen days of non-stop togetherness, all while singing, dancing and potentially getting discovered? This was what our ten years of living had been building up to.
Looking back, we were so young to be on our own in a college dorm room in Whittier, California, fending for ourselves when it came to learning lines and getting to bed on time. Two weeks felt like a lifetime, but we had each other. Our matching bedspreads proved it.
We did each other’s hair, advised each other on the best way to sing “Sound of Music” and spent every night opening our daily care packages from our worried parents. “How cute they were for being concerned,” we mused. “We’re so cultured and mature now. Let’s go play with these awesome gel pens they sent us!”
A few days into the camp, I noticed this boy. Let’s call him Sk8erBoy. Yes, with an 8. That was his screen name. Gosh, he was so much cooler than me.
We had a scene together and he did a back flip over a candlestick to impress me, which totally worked. He was fearless, he had scars and he was in middle school. He was a man.
I found myself wanting to be around him. Wanting to check up on the latest scandal he and his rowdy friends were up to. While Laura was making her bed, I was by the pool table listening to Sugar Ray with Sk8erBoy. One night, he made a bet with me. If he pocketed this shot, I had to kiss him on the cheek.
He made it. I kissed him.
The fastest peck of all time, but the longest, most passionate moment I had ever shared with a boy. Laura saw it and gave me a look of shame. Who are you… my mother?
My stomach was a blender of feelings. Embarrassment, fever, euphoria and anguish. That night, he slipped lemon heads under my door and I was totally consumed with my new “Adventures in Boy Land.” A wonderland that my best friend wasn’t a part of and that had never happened to us before.
Finally, it was the last night of camp. The show was a successful mess, our parents were in town smothering us with hugs and kisses and we campers were celebrating our last night of fellowship.
Laura’s parents were staying at the Embassy Suites and had booked an extra room for us. Normally we’d be in hysterics…. room service at midnight, swimming pools and elevators to play in, but I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay here… where he was.
Laura stood by the car, duffle bag in tow, waiting for me to share in her elation. I told her I was staying. There was no curfew in the dorms tonight. I wanted to stay with our new friends, Monkey and Ashley, Alexa and Jordan and Sk8erBoy.
With her sitting alone in the back seat, watching her car pull away, the bumper might as well have had a rope knotted around it with the other end tightly wound around my guts. Taut – no slack at all. I felt horrible.
That was the first time in my life I saw the sunrise. We stayed up eating popcorn and stretching out on the dusty rec room carpet under the enormous crystal windows. That was the night he wrote Sk8erBoy on my hand in black sharpie so we could keep in touch.
I went back to Arizona a changed person. I had lived on my own, I had stayed up all night, I had kept myself fed and even kissed a boy! I wore sneakers without socks and bought new CDs. I had learned what it felt like to make a decision for myself, even if it meant hurting someone I loved. Now that was a change.
I’m changing my website and my MySpace. Simple, right? I don’t know why it opened up the floodgates to an overextended blog.
Change happens every day. Sometimes it’s uncomplicated, like the layout of this page. Other times, it’s complex, like cutting ties with a friend.
When I think about change, it scares me, but I believe it is a substantial part of life. Because if nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies.