Saturday, July 15, 2006

Happiness is Made of...

1) A late night drive with my little brother, where we cranked old Bon Jovi and sang at the top of our lungs. Last night, Milford was privy to a stirring rendition of both Livin' on a Prayer and You Give Love a Bad Name. Never before has this brother and sister duo thrown quite as much fervor and passion into singing. Much less, singing to Bon Jovi. Our mobile concert didn't end with those two classics, but there was a solo (mine) of Blaze of Glory, a solo (his) of Whitesnake's Here I Go Again (On My Own), a lead singer (me)/choir (him) performance of Madonna's Like a Prayer, complete with car-dancing: flailing arms and many hands-folded-into-prayer-position interpretive moves. This dancing and singing occurred on an excursion to the Dairy Queen, where Chase and I parked in the exact same spot in which we always park, sat in the exact same booth we always sit in, opened the door too hard like we always do, and I ordered the exact same thing I've ordered the past three times we've been.

"You're getting the Heath Blizzard again?" Chase asked, surveying the menu while the young employee scooped extra Heath chunks into my vanilla ice cream.

"Oh yes I am. What are you getting?"

Chase rubbed his chin like a man twice his age, indecisive and contemplative. "Do they have anything with Peanut Butter?" Oh my God, I thought. He's turning into our father.

"You could get a peanut butter shake or sundae. Or maybe a Reese's Peanut Butter cup blizzard," I suggested.

He let out a sigh. "Yeeeeah," he said, stretching out both the word and his long arms. "I think I'll get the Reese's Blizzard."

There's something about that particular Dairy Queen that brings out the goof in both of us. We sit in our little booth, scooping our ice cream into our mouths with long red slender spoons and can, for some reason, find humor in everything. It's been there that we've witnessed a thin and frail old man with a long, long beard, who closely resembled Father Time, with his family. He reminds us of an old, ridiculous country song that our dad has on one of his Old Time CDs called Trinkets and Beads. This is a song we've always pictured being sung by an old man not unlike the Dairy Queen patron, who would do a little jig while he sang "Trinkets and beads, trinkets and beads, got five times more than anyone needs..." We've spotted men in tank tops with backs and shoulders so hairy that they resembled the standard Big Foot image, who looked as though they'd stumbled into this establishment by accident while trying to terrorize some campers in the woods just behind the DQ's brightly lit facade. We've watched a woman decide that she didn't feel like walking to the Dairy Queen's restroom ("What?" She said to cashier, her baby resting on her jutted hip, "the restroom's outside? Forget it.") and change her screaming baby right there on the table. We've been goofy, Chase making me laugh so hard that people look at me like I'm crazy. He accidentally-on-purpose gets ice cream on his nose and cheeks, then, straight-faced, asks one of the employees for an extra spoon or something. I don't know why but it makes me laugh every time.

Our drive is always with the windows down, trading the comfort of air conditioning for the ability to stick our hands out of rolled-down windows during our dancing. We always get home windblown and sticky, but full and aching from laughter.

2) Flowers given to me, not by my boyfriend, but by my incredible friend Melanie.

She showed up on our Monday night date with them, a card in her outstretched hand, wishing me well for my surgery. But more than that, she just did it to cheer me up. And they have. They sit on the island in the kitchen, greeting me every morning as I stumble downstairs to make my coffee. The rose in the middle has bloomed since coming to my house, and the rest of the flowers (I'm not sure what they are...Sorry!) all swarm around the rose in the most beautiful and cozy way.

"I went to florist," Mel said as we took our seats in the smoking section of our local haunt, "and I was like 'What kind of flowers should I get?' And I was looking at everything they had, and I wanted to get you something different, but I was like 'NO CARNATIONS! I KNOW HOW SHE FEELS ABOUT CARNATIONS!'" She finished with a giggle that echoed mine and took a sip of her coffee. I blinked back tears of raw gratitude and sheer appreciation.

A good friend knows which flowers you hate. But, more importantly, she knows exactly what you need when you're feeling a little low. Who said you have to wait on your boyfriend to give you flowers? They're incredible coming from an amazing friend, who has known you for as long as you've been in Milford and also knows everything - and I do mean everything - about you.

I should've used my flash for the picture, and I should've used an actual camera instead of my camera phone. But no matter how good the picture, it wouldn't convey the way they make me feel every time I see them. A reminder of someone who loves me. Someone I love.

She's a friend I don't see all the time. Jobs, boyfriends, distance and life get in the way of our regular meetings. But months can pass between our encounters, and it still feels like no time at all once we're face to face. We don't talk on the phone, we don't email each other, but our marathon sessions together - which last a minimum of two hours - suggest a closeness you don't see everyday. We store up the happenings in our lives, and explode with stories as soon as we sit. After telling our waitress "We're gonna be a while," we spill our lives out on the table over coffee, cigarettes and some sort of meal. We laugh like we're the only patrons in whatever restaurant we've chosen. We've cried over our meals, laughed, sulked, complained, beamed. By the time we leave, our table is covered with empty sugar packets and a million secrets.

3) Playing an old CD on my way into work. Two, actually. The first one was MTV The First 1000 Years: R&B, where I found not only Bobby Brown's My Prerogative, but also Tina Turner's What's Love Got to Do With It. I'd forgotten I had the CD, but last night's flashback session with my brother made me seek something old and familiar. I turned it up and sang along, feeling lost in junior high or earlier, recalling the crushes and school dances that the songs carried.

I then switched to the stripped version of Gavin DeGraw's Chariot CD. It reminded me of this time last year, where I went with Chuck and Pollo to his concert. I watched him onstage, with his curly hair and his passion for what he was doing, with his quirky sense of style and his genuine joy, and I wished for someone. I just wish I could find someone like that. Passionate and creative, sentimental, unafraid, confident. I liked his curly hair. I loved his music. And I remember, standing there in the crowded and sticky theatre, how much I wished I had another half who would enjoy this with me. Someone eccentric. Someone, perhaps, with curly hair. Someone who wouldn't think me silly for wanting to sing and dance to the music, someone who could understand being swallowed whole by music, a moment.

Before I went to the concert, I told Billy, who was merely an acquaintance at the time, that I'd be seeing Gavin DeGraw. "You'll love it," he said. "He's incredible in concert."

And I did love it. And, after making those wishes over the strains of the song Meaning, I got Billy. The one who does understand, who doesn't blame me for loving a song because of the piano in it, the one who gets just as into music as I do, the one who sings along, loud and honest, when we're in the car together.

I got what I wanted.

I have all that I need.


anno said...

I am SO jealous:

1) You have a DQ with booths. Our local one doesn't even have chocolate soft serve.

2) You have some beautiful flowers. (And some good friends, too.)

3) Your writing output lately has been phenomenal. Great stuff, fun to read. I'm looking forward to reading more.

I hope you have a great day tomorrow. I'm sure all will go well on Wednesday--and, not that there's any causal relationship, but I'll be thinking about you.

Best wishes for all good things.

Michele said...

What a fantastic friend! I believe the flowers are alstromerias. My mom has them growing in her yard.

Melanie said...

Oh My God Laurie I am sitting here crying! I want you to know that it really means a lot to me that you enjoy those flowers every day because that is exactly why I got them for you. I love you and I cherish our "meetings" because there is no one in this world that I can trust or laugh with like you. I also want you to know that I will be thinking of you every minute until I hear that your surgery went smoothly. I love you..Thank You for writing about me and for being a fabulous best friend! :)

tiff said...

I can't decide which of your happinesses I loved more in this post! Flowers from a girlfriend do have a special meaning, but finding someone you can sing along with, "loud and honest", well that's just about as lucky as you can get.

Tiffany said...

Girlfriends ARE special - what would we do without them!?!?

As for music... Check out Little Big Town and SugarLand. I swear you won't be disappointed. I've had both on constant repeat in the house, the car and on my iPod for months now!

Bite Me said...

Heath blizzard! Yeah,I knew I liked you! :-) That's the only thing I ever get at DQ.

Liz said...

Awww- All of the things you listed are exactly what happiness is made of.