When you get that first real job, your first real entry level job where the rest of your career grows from, you make friends. They're entry level friends, and you lunch with them, and have Mary Kay parties and Party lite Parties and you date boys and some people fool around with executives and some people don't and you go to parties, and bars and time goes by. Eventually people start to get fired or quit and other people start the slow ascent up the ranks into management. And some don't, and we leave them behind because suddenly we're lunching with different people and going to different Mary Kay parties and fooling around with higher level execs and dating different boys and MORE time goes by and you suddenly forget to remember that you previously had different friends. You see them in the halls, in the lunch room. You smile and wave and pass pleasantries but things changed and they didn't come with you on the path.
When I started out as a CSR on the phones I had a lot of friends and this is the story of me, Christy and Darla. It was a lot of fun on the phones at Lane Bryant Customer Service. Darla and I ended up making the trek up the corporate ladder and Christy stayed behind. But back in the 80s when they didn't have 800 numbers or caller IDs or recording systems on your phones, there was a carefree attitude that went with being on the phones. Big Brother was NOT watching. Christy and Darla and I all worked together on the phones taking calls, eating lunch, going to Mary Kay parties, going to bars to do the Electric Slide etc forever. On the day that I had the BIG job interview for team leader no one had told me it was scheduled, so Darla and I went into the bathroom and switched clothes so that I would look more professional.
I probably owe my entire career to that morning in the ladies room as we giggled and tossed clothes over the tops of the stalls to each other. And while Darla and I dated boys and had social lives, Christy was the girl who wished she did. Christy was a bigger girl, your friend who is always available to go out because she isn't dating.
But that makes her sound pathetic, and she wasn't. Christy was funny and warm, she'd help you to her own detriment at any time. She made people laugh and feel good when they didn't feel that way at all. She was fun to work with and she was LOUD. She didn't give a fig if she was fat, she'd laugh and call herself "a big old gal."
One of my favorite memories of her was of a freezing cold Indiana winter where Christy, Darla and I had been out to a bar and were freezing cold and HUNGRY. No place was open to eat so we went to Krogers and bought STEAK and some Larry's Potatoes (Christy's insistance on those, she loved them) and a bunch of other stuff. We made a huge dinner at 2am and feasted like kings (poor Kings, but KINGS nonetheless). I remember how much we laughed at ourselves for cooking such a big meal. And we talked about boys, and Christy talked endlessly about some DJ that she talked to every night, who she had never met. And Travis Tritt - because she thought he was the cutest thing ever.
We also went to the Limited Stock Holders Meeting in Columbus Ohio together. It was there that I made friends with a lot of the people that helped me in my career, I made friends, I drank with people, I chatted with people I had never met. I don't know what happened to Christy while we were there, I just know that at some point in the festivities she was gone- probably back to her room. I never thought to wonder if she felt left out or that I was ignoring her as I was being excited that management people were talking to me.
Christy had health problems, some of which were of such a horrifying nature I have told the stories out of some mean spiritedness in me that enjoys a shocking TRUE medical story. But I won't tell them here, or probably ever again. She was someone who really was always going to DO something about stuff. Like her diabetes, she was going to start eating right, although I never knew her to. She was going to lose weight, she was going to get her life under control.
Last year I got an email, out of the blue from Christy. She had heard from Darla, who I am STILL in touch with, that I was in Florida. Surprise, she was living quite close and wanted to get together.
She was shocked and amused that I have so many children and wanted to see them. She said she couldn't imagine me with children. We kept talking about getting together but she would hedge on coming to meet me for lunch which made no sense to me.
Until she told me that they had just amputated her leg. So she wasn't getting around so well, could I come see her?
We never made plans, we talked about it. Maybe I could come this time or that time but I just never committed. I am probably selfish and lazy in this way, I am slow to commit to things somtimes.
But regularly I enjoyed opening emails, some just to catch me up and some that are jokes or funny pictures from Christy. My relationship with her was re-established and I guess I was comfortable that I had time to amend the wrong I had done by ditching her on the way up the ladder.
But Christy died May 19th of a massive stroke. 20 miles or less from my house.
I never went to see her. I never let her meet my children. I never showed her that I was sorry for being an asshole.
At the age of 34 the friend I left behind was dead, and cremated for two weeks before anyone thought to tell me. I don't fault anyone, especially not Darla who actually was a good friend and was invited to the funeral and all. I could have made an effort and remained in touch. I could have tried. But I didn't.
It's just a reminder to me. Time isn't infinite.
And we all need to remember that.
So I'm sorry. And it doesn't matter at all, because sometimes being sorry fixes nothing.