Thanks, Amelia

March 7, 2011

In high school, it seemed like I had to reinvent myself every year. Coming from a small, obscure Catholic school I had to show people that I wasn’t the goody-two-shoes everyone thought I was my freshman year. That meant transitioning to Michael 2.0 which involved getting caught passing notes in class, breaking the dress code a few times and heckling my Health teacher, Miss Collier, with inappropriate questions about human anatomy. The last antic landed me a friendship with a boy named Kevin (for more about Kevin read “Better For Us. Worse For Them. Update”). For most of that year, Kevin and I were together all the time. We spent hours playing Nintendo in the basement of his parent’s house and playing practical jokes on his nerdy older brother. Our friendship was solid or, so I thought.

On the first day of our sophomore year I sat down at the lunch table with Kevin who, for a reason that still eludes me, pretended like he’d never met me. He never spoke to me again which prompted Michael version 3.0. That year I joined the show choir, Pizzaz, and found solace amongst the other “choir fags” in particular, two guys named Michael and Clint. Between late night practices and travelling throughout the tri-state area, we spent weekends watching teen angst movies and challenging each other to piano duels. But, like my friendship with Kevin, Clint and Michael ultimately decided that they liked each other more than me, and made our trio a duo.

That left me alone again at the beginning of my junior year and which meant Michael version 4.0. Thank god for Christie McMurtry. She was this super-fly, silver-tongued goddess that I met in an advanced writing class. She sat next to me on the first day of school and by the time the bell rang to end class, we were bff’s, planning our first trip to the mall. We spent all our time together. She taught me all about how to judge people up and down with just a glance and why Stevie Wonder is the greatest entertainer in the history of music. But, sadly, at the end of the year Christie graduated and left me forever.

So, there I was at the beginning of my senior year with just a handful of acquaintances and an empty dance card. That was, until I met Amelia. Her real name isn’t Amelia. I call her that because in one of my screenplays “Henry and Gil” I used Amelia as the inspiration for a character of the same name. We bonded one night when, by sheer coincidence, we ended up in the back seat of the same car on the way to toilet paper the house of a mutual nemesis. I basked in her awesomeness as she referred to said nemesis, not as a slut like everyone else, but as a hooker. It was a classier description, but equally as biting.

We successfully completed the toilet papering and ended up at Amelia’s house until 3:00AM the next morning. That night she taught me how to play Asshole, how to steal vodka from her dad’s liquor cabinet without him noticing and that her dog was the direct descendant of a dog once owned by Bruce Lee. That night, Michael 5.0 was born and I can truthfully say that, almost twenty years later, I’m still the same version.

For the rest of the year Amelia and I didn’t spend more than a few hours without seeing, talking or thinking about one another. We’d speak for hours on the phone every night critiquing our classmates, dreaming of going away to college and thinking of clever nicknames for the butt faces that seemed to find infinite joy in making fun of me.

We’d spend every weekend at her house ordering pizza, playing in her basement and torturing her cat named Shitty Kitty. She’d indulge me and rent “Heathers” and “Elvira: Mistress of the Dark” every couple weeks and sit through them as I quoted every line.

And it wasn’t just her quick wit and clever quips that I worshiped…she had the grooviest sense of fashion. She had a few pair of patterned tights that she’d wear with the confidence of a super model on the catwalk. But she wasn’t a fashion snob. Every couple of weeks we’d make a trek to all the local Salvation Army’s to peruse through their piles of cloths in the hopes of finding a discarded Gucci purse or a pair slightly worn Guess jeans.

With Amelia by my side, my senior year flew by and, before I knew it, we were both packing up for college. I’ll never forget the last night we hung out before she left for school. As usual, we stayed up at her house until an obscene hour of the night, gossiping about this and that and watching a movie of my choice. She walked me to the door and we shared a few pleasantries, both not wanting to say goodbye. Eventually, we hugged, she shut the door and I walked to my car. Once inside my black Camaro, I broke down sobbing so hard that I was unable to drive home. I sat there for fifty minutes before I could compose myself enough to drive the few miles to my parent’s house.

It’s been almost two decades since that night we parted ways and, even though we haven’t seen each other for over ten years or ever really talk (except for the random Facebook message), every time I think about Amelia calling someone out as a hooker, or screaming at little Shitty Kitty, or sitting through a bad movie just to appease me, or sashaying down the school hallway in her patterned tights a huge smile cracks across my face and I thank the person that put me on the path of becoming who I am today.

Thanks, Amelia.

My advice to Amelia: Call me. I miss you!

My advice to everyone else: We all have a person in our lives that we wish we had never fallen out of touch with. Call/text/e-mail that person right now and reconnect. I will if you will.


2 Responses to “Thanks, Amelia”

  1. mom Says:

    I hope you do reconnect with her, she was a great friend. xoxo

  2. Connie Says:

    🙂 I remember those really cool stockings and would admire them as well! And if it’s the same girl I am thinking of, I thought she was pretty cool even though we only saw each other in class or at lunch. How awesome of her to be so wise beyond her years and knowing/being a great friend when she saw one.

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