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June 3, 2010

Happy hour

After work last night a few of us got together for drinks and dinner at the Bonaventure. It was so nice, we don't do that very often, mostly just for special events. It was my favorite group of people. My old beloved boss (he's not old, he's just not been my boss for the past 53 days, not that I am counting) (much), and perfect, charming Corey of course who planned the whole thing, she has the world's best laugh, and Work Jen who makes me smile and feel at home just seeing her. There was Larry who is renown at the bank as being a man who can fix anything and who told us a story that involved large beer bottles and duct tape. Rocena was there, she and I have known each other since my first day on the job. She was the one who all those years ago patiently answered my online banking questions and later ...many moons later... I was such an evangelist and convert to online banking that I worked for eight months building out business online banking with Michele, who also came last night, and Amber, one of my closest friends.

It was Amber that was with me when I went all Mary Poppins on some dude in a gutter in Paris and whacked him upside the head with my umbrella and my repressed southern girl rage. We have seen each other through so many birthdays that we actually stopped counting out of compassion.

And then there was New Jersey, our 25-year-old newest addition to the office who has been there two years now(!) and still can surprise everyone. One day last month he showed up at work with a huge shiner, a big black eye with stitches crawling across his brow and claimed, "Uh, basketball mishap." That lasted about six minutes before we heard the story, which gets better at every telling, of New Jersey getting into a tussle at the Roosevelt on a Saturday. It's one thing to have a knock-down-drag-out at a seedy bar in downtown but at the Roosevelt this is kind of an accomplishment. I love his stories. I love listening to him talk-- half bullshit and half pure, unadulterated lust for life.

He is living life. The life, the one where you move to L.A. and just plug into it. He lives without abandon. I love it. It reminds me what it felt like to be 17, 18 years old and think the whole world was just waiting for me. I was always a cautious, careful kid but at 18 I still thought only in terms of what great stuff could happen maybe. I didn't know shit about retirement and checkbooks and insurance and life-altering decisions and fat pants and divorces and the very idea that my own father could fall ill was so impossible to me that even until two weeks ago I didn't believe it to be true, because he was always invincible. Larger than life.

Here's a funny story about my dad: I once worked for him at his newspaper and he had a visceral reaction to my love of Al Gore (let's say it was like throwing up, but expressed verbally) and my father, the proud and deeply conservative businessman could not understand why I kept a framed picture of Al Gore on my desk (next to a framed picture of Peter Jennings, and then one of my dog at the time, Mr. Charlie.) So one night I snuck into the office and replaced my father's family portraits all neatly framed and lined up behind his desk with pictures of Al Gore.

It was so much fun. I cracked my ownself up for days and days. I think my daddy may have needed a Silkwood shower when he first saw the lineup of Al faces watching him.

I do love my father. I do love to torture him.

Oh, to just stay in that space where you're 17 or 19 or 22 or even 25 (though by 25 I had already lost my way) and yeah, of course you have BIG DRAMATIC PROBLEMS but mostly they will be solved by someone calling you back or by you looking hot that night or by you and your friends hauling off to the coast for a weekend of drunken cookouts and someone doing shots with tabasco in them.

I think we get older and scared and we make life so hard, so complex, we pick it or it picks us but either way we start getting into the details so hard and furtively that we lose the 23-year-old way we rushed up each day to see what new thing would show up. We get consumed with the very details of living life. I wasn't always that way, you know. I used to dance first when my favorite band played. I used to be that wild girl in high school you wanted to hang out with because I didn't care if you thought my hair was ridiculous and I could talk my way out of anything ("You could talk a dog off a meat truck," one of my high school friends told me, in teenage awe, as I talked us out of a citation for underage drinking. "Officer, we feel that littering has reached a critical mass and the youth must pick up for the excesses of our older brothers and sisters... which is why we followed them here and will clean this campground of the heathen liquor litter...") I loved just living. I was too young to know it, though.

On Tuesday all lanes of the southbound 101 were closed and traffic had seized up like a heart attack, what people don't know unless they drive here is how one freeway fubar creates a domino effect on all the tributaries and side streets, every road becomes impassable. And so I stayed home and had a coffee, wrote, went for a walk, came in to work later once the lanes had all opened. As I drove by the scene of the accident I could still see debris in the left lane and a gash across the freeway and down into the embankment. I thought, was this person just going to work and that was it, it just ended? And all anyone cared about was the traffic?

And then I wondered why I think morbid junk like that.

But I think junk like that to remind me to plug in. Plug the hell into life! That attitude of being hopeful and invincible can come back. It exists inside us. The belief in a future of endless possibilities doesn't have to go away just because we get older. We can start making a whole list of why it won't work out ... or make a list of why it will. Or screw the list, just go live some life.

The best times are when you spend more energy living and less time worrying about consequences that may never come to pass. I'm writing this not to lecture you but to remind myself to just relax.

Posted by laurie at June 3, 2010 12:26 AM