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On The Same Page Of A Different Book

2005-02-13 - 10:07 p.m.

Dressed: Up

Listening To: Suggie Otis, Santana, Pearl Jam, Blind Faith

Quote:"I can't believe the two of us are hoping for fashion tips from Train Engineer Hankin" - Zach, to Aly

Whew. What a day. My back hurts. And I don't have to work tomorrow. And I'm hopped up on Sunkist. So much for the New Year's Resolution. My gastrointestinal track is going to be paying for it in the morning. I assure you. My past(s) came flying at me fast and furious today and there ain't nothing Google can do about it. Nothing at all.

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Started the day by wiping the crispix from my eyes and hiding all the empty beer cans before Dad Ben got home from his ski trip to Loon. And then decided what to wear for the not-quite-a-funeral but more of a Celebration of Life service for Joan that I was going to later that day. Dress pants and a sweater are usually a pretty hot combo - so that was that. Took a shower. Ben came home. He broke his skis. He told me about it. He asked me why I was so dressed up. As he knows how I do so like to avoid showering and most forms of popular grooming on the Sabbath. I told him. And then I left to pick up Aly and Shannon.

I knew I was running late - as usual - and as always, chaos erupted as soon as I entered Aly's apartment. And Alex was nowhere in sight! But Aly didn't have any black tights and I needed a brush and I didn't think her water worked and . . . and . . . are these are the things that we really stress about on a day like today? I mean, who's gonna be looking at us anyway? Isn't it always like this? It is with me anyway. Big events. Weddings, funerals, births, etc. Everything seems to be happening in slow motion and by a script. And we all look around and realize everyone else is reading from the same page and that our mind is slowly documenting all of this in what seems like acid seared photographs. But looking back years later you seem to remember the little details and not the big picture. You remember that they had egg salad sandwiches on bulky rolls at the reception after the memorial service. And that you drank too much lemonade and felt sick to your stomach. But you had that deep conversation with that old friend . . . what was it about again? Or that the cabbie seemed drunk and was passing slow cars down some back street and you wondered if you'd ever arrive at the reception at the golf club. And you're about to leave for vacation but have to rush to the maternity ward instead - you don't remember the details of the birth but you remember that they were in the middle of a 5-part storyline on ThunderCats on the lounge tv. And your sox don't match right before you're about to deliver a eulogy. I don't know. Maybe it's just me.

Shannon, Aly and I tried to find a parking place in downtown Portsmouth on a day that seemed like the whole state had arrived. The three of us ran into Al-Ison and her mom on the way from the bank parking lot to the church. Was this really the first time we'd seen Al-I since the Olive Garden dinner? I guess it hasn't been *that* long. Alyson T. saw us as we were making our way to the church and sooner than later we had a caravan of AlI/Ysons. We were making nervous jokes about nothing in particular as we made our way towards the end of the line that wrapped around the entrance of the church. I saw people from the mall office ahead of us in line. This was going to be sad. And weird. And somber. And light. And weird.

I later explained to Aly and Shannon that the whole day had seemed like falling into an old dream you had finally started to forget the details from. A recurring dream that you just before managed to escape. Because, like a dream, faces were right but location was wrong. And time was fucked up. And that would never happen in real life. But all of a sudden, there we are. Hugging Jim and Jason in what must be the impossibly difficult and unenviable task of welcoming people to your mother/wife's memorial service. And there is Beth sitting with Becca and Phyllis. But that's not right. But it is. And Marianne sitting with Aly, Shannon and me. Singing Amazing Grace with Marianne. When she mentions to me that her father died when she was a senior in High School. How do I not know that? I worked with Marianne for 5 1/2 years. And I never knew that? And can I believe that this overflowing church of people were all somehow touched or affected by Joan's life? Yes, I can. Even as I look across the sea of people and see Shara and Adam, and then B Rog and the Warden - all of us occasionally meeting eyes and silently agreeing, "Yes. We're on this page too." But it affects everyone differently. How this event affects Andrea and Phil is quite different than what Marianne is thinking, remembering. And what am I thinking about? As all these grown children have shown up to praise the woman that took them in as a day care provider? I think of Mrs. Trickey who watched over a roughshod brood of LakePortericans in the early 80's, like Joan did to several generations of Portsmouth kids from the late 80's to the 2000's. I think that I will attend Mrs. Trickey's funeral. And then I think of hilarious stories from the Mrs. Trickey days and smile. But then, recalling the setting, I try not too look happy. Until I see others laughing at the humorous recollections that other speakers are bringing forth about the deceased. And I know it's ok to not stay somber. Until I look up at the empty altar and know that someday, maybe soon, maybe not, I'll have to eulogize my grandmother and I almost black out at the thought of it. I try to put the thought out of my head. But I haven't been able to for the last two years, and today is no different.

The cold seemed much more biting when we left the church than when we arrived. I ran across Jill and Ernie in the lobby. I wondered if that is what you call the front room of a church - a lobby? These are things you remember. Jill told me I look so grown up since the last time she saw me. Which was what? Christmas? I ran into Mall Office Beth and she told me about her new baby. She gave me a hug and that seemed totally normal. Aly and Shannon asked me what I was waiting for on the church steps as people slowly began filing out of the church. What was I waiting for? I think I was waiting for all of my former co-workers to come outside. But why? I had who I came with. I agreed with the girls - there was no reason to stick around.

As the girls and I drive to the mall I think that this is the most normal thing in the whole wide world. Transporting two Vegans back to our old stomping grounds while they both continue to harangue me for wearing a coat of unknown origin other than it surely being "DEAD ANIMAL!" as they keep referring to it. We walk down the halls of the mall half in repulsion that the Valentine's Day displays seem so garishly pink and half in confusion that no one has rushed to greet us with open arms. Where are all the people to say, "You're back! Thank God! We all agree you were unjustly laid off and are so glad to see you again! You were a part of our daily routine just as we were a part of yours!" But instead we get a few odd looks from the people that run the carts in front of what used to be G. Willikers. And is slowly becoming Hot Topic. Aly gets distracted by some Care Bear books and Shannon scopes out that Secret Crush is indeed working! Excellent! This all feels very familiar. We go and visit Kate at the cart. This is all weirdly familiar. Except I'm usually not so dressed up and usually there's tacos involved. All the faces are right but the locations are wrong for the first time. We visit with Secret Crush who is very happy/surprised to see all of us. She says she wants to visit me at work. Perhaps she has dumped Secret Boyfriend and wants me to be her Valentine! Or . . . maybe not. And I almost black out at the thought of it.

I drove the girls home. Shannon got ready for Ben C. to get home so they could watch Alias and Aly met up with Alex so they could go grocery shopping. It was clearly understood that this was both girls idea of an ideal pre-Valentine night. They're a good people those Vegans. On the drive home to R'ford, I fielded calls from both Brooke and Monique in quick succession. Rudy had died this morning and they felt I should know. And then I did know. It would be another funeral. With different faces from a different time. And we'd all know that we were on the same page of a different book.

It's been real,

Fake Uncle Jack

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