"It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Home is not where you live, but where they understand you." - Christion Morgenstern
"There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them." -J.K. Rowling

Friday, December 17, 2010

Truly A Family

If I were to look back on the eighteen years I've been alive, I'd tell you that I, honestly, hardly remember any of it. It's not like I repress memories, though there are a few that I know I have, it's just that I've got a really odd way of sorting through what is important and what isn't. This is why I started the blog - so that I'd always remember no matter what. I feel like this says it all for me. "Even though we've changed and we're all finding our own place in the world, we all know that when the tears fall or the smile spreads across our face, we'll come to each other because no matter where this crazy world takes us, nothing will ever change so much to the point where welre not all still friends."
You've seen our posts about the song 'Old School' by Hedley. I did another one of those turn a song into a story kind of writings for that song, and, naturally, Ryan, Katie, and Tanner all star in this particular story. (*it is written as a follow up to my previous writing on For Good. Again, I didn't move, and am not going to move to Florida. EVER.)

Old School
"Mommy, the phone is fo' you," Kialya, my daughter, called from below.
"Who, love?" I asked, looking up from my computer.
"Aunt Kate," she answered - I pulled myself out of my chair.
"I'm coming," I called, mounting the spiral stairs. Her velvet coice prattled on, filling Katie's ear with the deepest desires of her two-year old life.
"Mommy is making her story," I heard. "She say she almost done, but guess what Aunt Kate? I know what happens!"
There was a moment of silence - the little angel's laugh tinkled, "But Aunt Kate, I pwomised I wouldn't tell!"
"Tell her what?" I asked, walking into the room.
"She wanna know how it ends," Kialya said in her best tattle-tale tone.
"Nope," I said, picking her up - her small form resting on my hip. "Not even your daddy knows that, huh?"
"No," she said with the girlish chuckle that I cherished, "but I do 'cause I special. Bye-bye, Aunt Kate."
She handed me the phone and snuggled her head into my neck. "Hello, love," I said inot the reciever.
"Ahoy-hoy, we're still on for dinner at your house, right?"
"Yeup, I'm gonna get started as soon as I'm off the phone."
"Awesome, I just had to check - you get so wrapped up in that book of yours," she said. "I'll see you in an hour."
"Yeup, don't die."
She just laughed in response. The line went dead. I set Kialya down, and headed to the kitchen.
"Is Aunt Kate comin'?" she asked, struggling onto one of the mahogany chairs around the table.
"She is," I said, bustling around the kitchen for the makings of dinner - which I really had forgotten about. "Do you know what that means?"
"Is Unca Tanner and Unca Ditty comin' too?" asked ehr eager voice; I couldn't help but smile as her face lit up.
I nodded and an excited squeal tore from her soul.
"Do I gets presnts?"
"We'll see," I said, shaking my head - they spoiled her as if she were their grandkid.
"Will you make 'pasketti, mommy? 'Pasketti is nommy."
"You read my mind, angel," I said. "How about you get your words? You can practice them in here while mommy makes dinner."
She waddled off and was back in seconds clutching her little 'rhyming families' folder. She poured over the words studiously as I continued to prepare dinner. Once everything was cooking, I washed my hands - Kialya looked up expectantly.
"Honey, I'm going to get ready," I said. "Don't go near the stove."
She nodded and went back to her words. I was just attempting to sneak back to my book when I heard a knock and the pitter-patter of Kialya's feet.
"Who is it?" she called through the door.
"The boogey man," taunted Ryan's voice from outside.
"But the booey man sca-wee," she whined. "Can you not be booey man?"
I heard Ryan laugh from the other side of the door, "It's Uncle Ditty, Kialya."
She squealed and threw the door open. Ryan stood in the empty frame, taller than ever, but it didn't stop him from bending down to Kialya's height to say hello properly - which sometimes included a gift - chocolate, little toys, a puppy - and always a hug.
"Oh! This is my favorite kind!" she squealed as I walked into the room.
"Hey, Ry," I said, he straightened and we hugged. "What have I told you about spoiling her dinner?"
"I was at the store. . . I couldnt' resist," he said, putting his hands up.
"Look at what I got!" Kialya demanded proudly, showing me a 'Cookies n' Cream' bar.
"Nom! Why don't you go hide it until it's time for desert?"
She toddled off.
"She is just like you," said Ryan. "How's the book coming?"
"I'm almost done," I said, leading him into the kitchen. "I've just gotta work out the dedication."
"You'll get it," he said, glancing around. "Where's the hubby?"
"The game," I said, rolling my eyes. "He knew I have you guys over tonight so he made plans with his friends, since I refuse to go."
Ryan smiled knowingly and Kialya came back into the room - utterly confused.
"Can'da is at the door," she said.
Ryan and I laughed aloud. "Wel, ket Canada in," I told her, she scuttled off.
"Tanner is here," I said, pulling the breadsticks out of the oven.
A second later he led Kialya back into the room.
"Where are we going?" he asked her.
"Can'da!" she cried happily.
"I've trained you well," said Tanner.
"Is mommy coming?" she asked.
"Nope, I'm going to kidnap you," he replied, singnaling her to 'shh!'
She copied him, and pulled herself back onto her chair.
"You kidnap her and you'll never see the light of day again," I said slowly.
"Oh . . . mommy mad," Kialya whispered to Ryan, who busted up while I pulled Tanner into a hug.
"How're you?" I asked.
"Never better," he replied.
The front door slammed and Kialya gasped - her eyes widening with excitement.
"Where's my favorite angel?" Katie's voice called.
"AUNT KATE!" Kialya screamed as Katie walked into the kitchen.
Katie scooped her up and the child clung to her neck. "You have lout shoes again!"
Katie reached down, pulling off a heel - bigger than any I'd ever seen - to show her, "Yeah, because loud shoes rock, right?"
Her student nodded dutifully.
"Who is going to buy them for you, Kia?" I asked.
She looked from me to Katie - deciding. "Mommy."
Katie high-fived her, "That's my girl."
"I'm forwarding you the bill," I muttered, setting the plates out on the table. "Kia, hon, will you go put your words away? We need the table."
She snatched the folder from the table and ran from the room - clutching it to her chest.
"I can't believe she's already reading those," Katie said.
"Not really, but I told oyu, before kindergarten she'll be reading. Once she can read well enough, we'll start on Harry Potter - not that she doesn't already know about it."
"Of course," Tanner muttered.
"Kialya came back in and I lifted her up.
"Let's eat," I said, setting her on a chair. Katie and Ryan fought over the seat on her left side while Tanner peaceably sat on her right. I sat downand we dug in.
"How is everyone doing?" I asked.
"No attacks this month," Katie reported. Ryan breathed a sigh of relief. "I'm probably going to find the cure for this before any of the doctors I've been to. My professors know more than they do."
We all laughed.
"I've been good," Ryan said. "School is going to start up again soon. I've only bought like five things on E-bay this year."
"There has GOT to be a group for that," Katie muttered.
"You're a freshman, right?" I asked.
"Senior, Paige," he said exasperated.
"At least I remembered you were in school. How are the languages coming?"
He answered in a garbled mess of sounds that I recognized as Chinese.
"'Scuse me?" Kialya asked.
Ryan snorted into his pasta.
"I'm great," Tanner reported. I might actually get to go to Canada at the end of the month - and the district is going to pay for all of it. OH yeah."
He winked at Kialya - she giggled.
"I good," Kialya said. "We're gonna feed duckies tomorrow."
"I'm awesome," I said, smiling when Tanner quacked. "Once my dedication is done the book will be ready for the publisher."
"That rocks," Ryan said.
Tanner nodded approvingly.
"Why is it taking you so long for the dedication?" Katie asked. "Isn't it just 'Thank you Mom and Dad' - done?"
"It's got to mean something."
It was silent for a minute while we all concentrated on our food.
"We should make this a tradition," Ryan said suddenly, "now that we're finally all in the same state again."
I looked down, a sudden heat in my face.
"We could alternate houses," Katie suggested. "With each of us in charge of our own week."
"I don't think my roommates would be able to handle having you guys in our apartment," Ryan said. "Besides, I'm a starving student, remember? I can barely feed me, let alone all of you."
"We could have it here every week," I said, quietly. "I wouldn't mind at all."
"It isn't your fault, Paige," Katie said, picking up on my shame. "Your dad got the job and you had to move with your family."
"Nothing was ever the same without you though," Ryan said.
Tanner nodded his agreement.
"How'd we end up here?" I asked. "Seven years of texts, phone calls, and maybe a day a year - yet, we're all still here - all grown up, and still best friends."
"Grown up?" Tanner chuckled. "How'd we manage that?"
Ryan chuckled.
"Yeah, I distinctly remember fighting time," Katie said. "We never really left our selves time to grow up."
"Hey, we had our moments," I said defensively. "We'd sit down for conversations and I'd get up feeling five years older, over and over again."
"Yah, but you remember all of the things we've done," Ryan said. "I know we all do."
"Like when we took those air mattresses to that pond?" Tanner asked.
"And Katie convinced the little girl there that she was queen of the mermaids," I said, shaking my head.
"That was funny - you know it," Katie said.
"Oh yeah," Ryan said. "I was the butler, huh?"
"Yeah, and then you got caught in that no service hick town, remember?"
"What about when I made him a stripper?" Tanner asked, cracking up.
"Those poor Starbucks employees," Katie muttered to me.
"What about the off-roading ventures?"
"Or when I exploded Starbucks all over your car?"
"Good ole Denton."
"Or when we shredded Tanner's tires?"
"Or the 10,000 shampoos."
"What about when I proposed to Katie on the street corner?"
"After the epic car chase? Yeah, that was AWEsome."
"Or redneck-sledding."
"That hill was never the same."
"Or the car wars."
I glanced at Kialya - her eyes followed the conversation, lit with a dream-like kind of light. I couldn't get over how much she loved these guys - I knew she would idolize them for the rest of time: they would be the inspiration for her crazy years. I suddenly had an idea.
* * * *
A week later, Katie, Ryan, and Tanner all went to their mailboxes to find a tightly wrapped, unmarked package. Each tore the paper to find a hard bound copy of the book - a marker on the dedication page.
To how caviler we used to be,
The beautiful insanity -
Now it won't ever fade.
Moments Like These

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