We met in the middle of 9th grade. If Jeanne ever had a thought about what was ‘cool’, it was immediately dismissed as unimportant. She made her own ‘cool’ and she stuck to it. She knew everyone and what they were up to. She knew the lay of the land and had her own compass. There was just no arguing. A more confident 9th grader, there has never been.
I was the child of a very public and acrimonious divorce who had been literally plucked from downtown Toronto and deposited at Bigfork High School in Bigfork, Montana one snowy Monday morning in the middle of the term. Of course, my clothes were all wrong, my hair was all wrong, my attitude was all wrong and I talked funny. What a sad and sorry figure I must have cut, shivering in my city snow boots. Still, she swooped down and tucked me under her wing as if we’d known each other since childhood, and I went, in a heartbeat, from a woefully lonely (and in hindsight, traumatized) child to a teenager with girl friends and sleep-overs, make-up experiments and secrets.
Jeanne came from a ‘real’ family with a Mom and a Dad, a sister and a Grandpa. They did exotic things at Jeanne’s house, like planning practical meals and sitting down together around the big kitchen table. They talked and argued amicably. They did things like homework and chores. The best part was that Jeanne lived on a farm. In fact, her family had lived on a farm so long that they named the road after them. She therefore possessed all sorts of arcane knowledge and could answer questions like “What’s alfalfa?”, “Why are we picking rocks out of this field?” and “Why do you have a gas pump in your yard?”
So, due to her willfulness, we grew up together. We learned to drive on her mom’s blue chevy. We got our first corsages, had our first dates and first boyfriends together. We got into a little trouble together too, but not much. I don’t remember watching TV with Jeanne one single time. We had too many important things to do.
She’s done everything right. Her personal compass is, as it has always been, true. She married the right guy and had ridiculously beautiful and talented children. To quote my New Year’s Eve post: “…Jeanne and Jeff and their amazing brood (now that they’re potty-trained, grown-up, college-educated and have their own apartments, I really wish they were mine)”.
Jeanne was ‘the practical one’. Though she has admired and generously nurtured creativity in others, she has always claimed to be singularly uncreative. Imagine my surprise when, a week or two before Christmas, I received a series of confusing and cryptic Facebook messages from Jeanne concerning, of all things, crochet. Oh, the moaning and gnashing of teeth, and the threats to crochet a noose and hang herself! I quote, “I THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE FUN. THIS IS NOT FUN. THIS IS THE OPPOSITE OF FUN.” I was encouraging but non-commital, not wanting to upset her time/crochet continuum, but then during Christmas week, I spied this:
Delighted, yet stymied, I messaged her, suggesting we do a Crochet-Along project. Her answer: “Gee, I’d love to but I have too many projects going.” Well, how do you like that? She still swears it’s no fun, that she doesn’t enjoy it, that it’s merely some sort of weird obsession but I know the truth. She’s “hooked”.