Sunday, March 3, 2013

Oh, Boys!

I was recently talking to a friend of mine (who will remain anonymous for the sake of privacy) about a very brave e-mail she sent to someone of the opposite sex who has, for several years now, been less than clear about his intentions.

As we were talking, I couldn't help but be reminded of another e-mail, slightly less brave (though it certainly didn't feel like it at the time), sent a decade ago:

Kara was beyond anxious about setting up a study date with Alan and David for the Cold War final. Though they were the ones who asked her to set it up, she was still horrified that she would accidentally wind up professing her love [to David] when she sent them an e-mail with the details. She managed to talk herself into sending the e-mail to only David, asking him to relay the info to his roommate. But the intense fretting that went into wording the thing was beyond comical. Kara was completely and totally beside herself, and the e-mail wound up being so generic that I could have written it and no one would have known the difference.

In fact, from our posts on the floor, Greta and I pretty much did write it, directing Kara as she sat at my desk. It took her minutes of reading and re-reading to actually send the sucker and for days afterwards, she asked me to assure her that she had not signed the note “Love, Kara.” [circa 2003]

When I found that passage on my hard drive, I laughed and I laughed and I laughed.

Friday will be Kara's birthday.  As is likely too obvious for me to need to state it, her birthday and the anniversary of her death are rapidly becoming ritualized times in my life, both to remember her and to reflect back on the ways my own life has changed since she's been gone.  (Reflection:  Something new for me, right?)

Last year the dates were especially poignant as my college group moved into a new decade, forever leaving her behind in her twenties.  This year their primary sentimentality may come because of passages like the one above and their stark contrast to their contemporary counterparts.  It's kind of like that meme that's making the rounds right now:  
It's funny, is it not?  Because it's true?  But it starts to get a little weird when the 20-year-olds you're hanging out with are yourself and your friends, trapped in words that you compulsively wrote and then protectively hoarded so they could be wheeled out twice a year for the sake of memorial and "reflection."

It's fascinating, really, the difference between the episode quoted above and the one my friend and I talked about last week, the e-mail this time around intended for the exact opposite effect.  At twenty-one, there was sheer terror in the thought of tipping your hand.  At thirty-one, it's simmering exasperation at not openly addressing the obvious.  "Oh, God, I'd die if he knew!" has turned into "I know he knows and I'm sick of him pretending he doesn't."

And yet what hasn't changed is the way we let them get under our skin, the way we reach out to each other after they have, and the way we pour our energy into self-preservation (fear of embarrassment now overtaken by fear of missing other opportunities while holding out hope).

Put that way, it seems like life itself never changes at all, only us.

So here's to Kara's 31st!  To youth, to wisdom, and to the boys who will always drive us to madness as we contemplate what to write them via e-mail... :)


  1. Thanks so much! What an awesome memory for this week. Vodka shots all around!

    (I had a really freaky Kara dream last week. She was taking us with her into the spiritual world. Needless to say...freaky)

    - Meg

    1. Meg! I missed a call from you yesterday! (I'm really interested to hear more about this, yes, freaky definitely sounds like the word for it... :-/)

      I love this memory of Kara; it encapsulates so much of senior year! Boys! Fretting! Afternoons spent in dorm rooms avoiding homework! Such fun times, and yet also so funny to look back on. :) Bottoms up, indeed. :)

  2. So here's to Kara's 31st! To youth, to wisdom, and to the boys who will always drive us to madness as we contemplate what to write them via e-mail... :)

    Perfect blog, Becky. :) And, Meg, I second the vodka shots all around!! Still such a strange concept to me that Kara isn't here. Especially when passages like the one Becky shared are so full of her personality and life. Love you ladies!

    1. Thank you, Kathryn. :) I know exactly what you mean about it being bizarre she's not here. I'll randomly run across pictures of her, or flash on a memory like this one, and find it almost impossible, even now, to wrap my head around the fact that she's gone.

      And on that note, I'm so glad we all have each other!! Can't wait until May; lots of love to you (and Meg, too! and the rest of our crew, too!) this week!!