Monday, June 11, 2007

Duckie Comes Out, Finally

Today is Amy's 41st birthday. Everyone say "Happy Birthday Amy."

Although I hadn't spoken with Amy in eight or nine years, there was a period in my life when I thought Amy was my life. We were inseparable. It was during the early- to mid-80's when we were both in high school in Richardson, Texas. Amy was a couple of months younger, but had skipped a grade, so was a year ahead. Despite hailing from Tennessee or Kentucky (I'm not sure now) she was, and I assume remains, "very Texas" -- oversized eyes, pug nose, tastefully highlighted hair, big boobs. She was also the most sophisticated woman I knew -- wise beyond her years and well-read. I remember adults being intimidated by her looks, confidence, and intelligence. She didn't suffer fools gladly, and Texas was full of them. In fact, I'm sure my mother adored and feared her in equal parts. It was Amy who insisted I read Ayn Rand's, "The Fountainhead," in 1982, which was the first book I read that changed the way I viewed myself in this world. Granted, other books had made impressions, but that one permanently shifted my vision.

We met while working back stage on a high school drama production -- yes, it's true, that's where they kept the gay boys even then. I think we were giving each other back massages and she thought I was very good. Gay or not, teenagers will do anything to touch each other. Within a month, I was with her every day after school, very often riding in the lime green Porsche 911 she'd borrow from her stepdad. I was in heaven -- white trash learns to ride high class. I became a fixture in her home, third child to her mom & step-dad and big brother to her little sister, Brandy. I adored that family. They were the first people who encouraged my potential, who helped me to think bigger than the place from where I'd come.

Amy was the first person who told me that Madonna was white, the person who went with me to the Madonna concert in Texas Stadium in 1982, the person who I listened to The Go-Go's with for hours on end (quite literally), the person I had a lose-your-virginity-first race with for $1 bet (she won, barely), the person who knew that it was sometimes hell living in my house, the person who bought me my first Polo shirt, and the person I went to see EVERY SINGLE John Hughes movie on the first day they would come out.

She may also be the very last person who was ever that close to me with whom I had not yet come out.

That was until today. I was riding on the subway this morning and I realized that June 11th was one of those dates. Then it hit me -- Amy's birthday. Ten minutes on the internet and I had her husband's phone number. I left a message and within an hour, Amy and I were speaking. We didn't exactly pick up where we left off, but we built some momentum by the end. She's the same woman I knew, and not. And I'm sure that she felt the same way about me.

We have lives that the other can only imagine.

She told me that she had thought of me a few weeks ago when she and her daughter were watching "Pretty in Pink." Amy said that while watching it, she told her daughter that, like Andie (Molly Ringwald), she too had a friend like "Duckie" (Jon Cryer). I laughed, because she was right. I now appreciate John Hughes in a way I couldn't have before, for his ability to so clearly capture that time of adolescence. The movie never says that Duckie's gay, and he may not be, or he may not yet know or be willing to accept it. But the confusion, the hormones, the frustration, and sadness, the general angst of puberty that Duckie embodies resonates for me; I know that boy.

I remember someone telling me as I was leaving college not to be too upset in ten years when I looked back and realized that I hadn't kept in touch with people that I was sure I couldn't live without. She had said it's very easy to maintain friendships in college because people are forced to see other frequently and there are many opportunities to come together. She also said that friendships are often for "a reason, a season, or for a lifetime" and that it's better to accept that now, rather than to decide down the road that the friendship wasn't what I thought it was.

Amy was in my life at a time when I needed an "Amy." She added intelligence, a bit of glamour and an bright laughter to a period of total confusion. She was shiny, when I felt dull. I treasure what we had, without having any expectations for what we might still have. I loved hearing her voice and the entire experience felt like a loose thread had been woven back into a favorite sweater. She reminded me that I had wonderful, intimate, loving support in my life exactly when I needed it. And that her friendship is always there.

I bought a "Pretty in Pink" DVD on the way home; I can't wait to watch it again.

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