Weekends were spent at house parties with friends, or at rural dance halls like Dance Mor in Swisher, the Loop in Monticello, and Prairie Moon in Prairieburg. One of the best nights of my life was spent with Becky, New Year's Eve 1990, and a bunch of friends we met dancing on tables at Dance Mor, then followed to the SW side Denny's. Becky spent Christmas Day 1990 with my family, and we cut apart all the boxed chocolates and smushed together the icky ones to leave for others, til we discovered there was a map. We smoked candy cigarettes to mock the teen smokers around us. We invented the stupefyingly hilarious game of holding a toilet paper tube to our eye, and watching objects like troll dolls dropped, while listening to Depeche Mode. No, we were not high.
We went to prom together, graduated together. When Cathy was born, Becky videotaped it, and the tape gets all shaky when she started to cry. I was in the waiting room for Mitchell's birth and in the room to see Kennedy born. One of the first things Becky said after I called her with the news my dad had died was, "How can I help?" I call Beck first, with all good news and bad news.
The Prairie Moon Ballroom has burned down, many years ago now. You can't buy candy cigarettes in stores anymore. The Denny's on the southwest side of CR is long gone. And, still, we are friends, better now than we were back in the days we spent every weekend together. Even if I don't see Becky for weeks or even months, I know we can pick up where we left off and I know that she understands every backstory to every new story I tell her. I know her family and their stories as well as my own. I have faith in her goodness as a human being, and with her ability to empathize, because she understands bad luck, too.
So, tonight when my truck started flashing the oil and battery "Danger, Will Robinson!" lights on its dashboard, while I was on my way to her birthday campout at Sugarbottom Campgrounds, fully stocked with tent, sleeping bag, potato chips, Bacardis, and her silly birthday card, I couldn't believe my bad luck. Of all the things I would never want to miss, it would be Becky's birthday weekend, at a time in her life when experiences and good times with friends is what she values most. But, here I sit, at home with my truck in the garage, waiting for morning when Karl can look it over.
So, Becky, here is your birthday blog, in lieu of my presence at the campout tonight. You are my best friend, and have been for more than half my life. I think of you as a sister now, and my whole family loves you. You are incredibly funny and make everyone around you laugh. You are kind. I've seen you many times hold your tongue when you knew something and wanted to say it, but didn't. You are generous, with your time and your talents and praise of others. You give more than you get back, time and again. I'm sorry I'm not there tonight. But, I hope you know that I am always there in spirit. Happy Birthday.