Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

03 August 2011

Thanksgiving in August: Jill

I met Jill in the late 1990s in High School – what feels like a million years ago. It kinda was, actually. Our non-existent ten-year reunion has come and gone. High school is, to me, a bit of a blur, and I remember rather less of it than I probably ought, but I remember my friends in high school very, very well. I'm not sure how true all of these memories are, but they feel good when I think back on them, so that's accurate enough, I feel.

We hung out so much in high school, our group of friends, that we started planning evening events. We went to the Phantom of the Opera once, god only knows why. And we went to a Dodger game at least once. That was great. And Jill did make-up for some of the school plays – I was in Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound in, like, 1997 or something. Oh lord. This is all too long ago. I'm moving forward in time.

Truth is, I remember Jill from college more than I do from high school (my memory of high school not being the most dependable.) Jill and I were the only people from high school who studied theatre, and we became very close after we headed off to college because we had a lot to talk about – you know, "changing the face of the American theatre" and all that stuff. We spent a lot of time at each other's shows, visiting each other on campus, and also going to the theatre. We had season tickets to the Mark Taper Forum for years, and we had also decided to meet once a month for lunch, no matter how busy we got, and we used to run off to Disneyland at a moment's notice (we bought annual passes together), go on a ride or two, get a $9.00 churro or a bowl of ice cream and then ride the train around the park just talking and getting each other out of dumb emotional problems.

I spent a lot of time with her lovely family back then, too. Her dad and mom and brother. I can't even count the number of times I drove to the forty-five minutes to Rancho Cucamonga, or the number of times we sat out in the heat or drove up to the top of the hill and looked out over the valley. These memories are some of my favorites of my late teens. And we used to have these fabulous cooking dates. We'd make spinach and cheese soup together, or she would make pasta. Such times.

Jill got married the year before I moved to Florida and she moved away to Ohio to teach dance to young people. I see her whenever we are both back in California for the holidays and we always have a meal and I visit with her and her delightful husband (and nowadays there is also a cute little guy who comes along).

One of my favorite things about Jill is her total dedication to her family. I don't think there is anyone I know who is less ambivalent about her family. It is an admirable loyalty that I find bewildering and exciting. I also love how much Jill is dedicated to teaching, to making sure her students get a great education. Often when we speak now, we can speak about our mutual love of instruction, of both continuing to learn ourselves and also spending our lives in education. Teaching is so hard, and sometimes we need encouragement to keep going. It is so lovely to have someone in my life who cares so much about being a good teacher.

So, thank you, Jill. Thank you for being such an enormous part of my high school and college life, and for listening to all of my bullshit for all of those years. The drama that we have shared, girl... if we could write it all out on paper, we would probably have enough to choke that Fantasmic dragon.

We go way, way back, me and Jill. And we don't talk as often as we could, and in all truth it doesn't really matter. Over a salad or coffee or (dear god, can we go here please next time) Mexican food at El Cholo, we will always jump so quickly into the easiest of relationships, encouraging one another and relating to one another, and probably (let's just be real) wishing we were shopping.