And It’s Another Good Bye To Another Good Friend

26 Jan

Over a quarter of a century ago I made the acquaintance of a girl who would end up having a significant impact on my life though of course I didn’t know it at the time.  We were just kids, or teenagers I should say, and we met in passing at some crowded Jackson house party that neither of us really wanted to be at.  At the time she was dating one of my best friends from high school and when we were introduced neither of us took much note of the other.   I think something like “Hi.  It’s nice to meet you.”  was said.  I didn’t even know how to properly spell her name for a couple years.  (I spelled it Leneah,)

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It’s Linnea, not Leneah

Yet over the next couple years we found ourselves in the same cluster of people time and time again.  Socially we both inhabited the outer fringe of what I have come to call the Jackson “Alterna-Teen Crowd.”  It was the early 90’s and “not fitting in” had become cool, thanks in large part to the emergence of Nirvana and Pearl Jam as main stream bands.    Yet within that circle of misunderstood and mostly artistic misfits she and I inhabited an even smaller circle of folks who didn’t even really fit in with the people who didn’t fit in, and we were both quite content in bearing that distinction.  Frequently we found ourselves at events where mutual friends were performing in bands but the two of us would pair up and sit in some corner away from everyone else and play cards or talk about movies.  It was quickly realized we had pretty much the exact same quirky, sarcastic irreverent sense of humor.

NirvanaNevermindalbumcover

This album helped make the weird kids the cool kids.

Over the years we became very good friends.  As the “Alterna-Teen Crowd” got older and many of them disappeared into careers, families or in some cases prison, our friendship lingered and we became frequent movie buddies.  We went to one after another, sometimes as often as one or two a week.  I think a conservative estimate could be made that we went to at least 100 movies together over the course of the next few years, and always before or after the movie a meal was enjoyed at any one of Jackson’s many illustrious dining establishments.  Favorites of ours were Denny’s, Lucky’s Pit Stop Cafe if we were in the mood for Chinese, Denny’s, Bob Evans if we were feeling adventurous,  Denny’s,  Jaxxon Pizza Factory if we were in the mood for pizza and have I mentioned Denny’s yet?  A note about our dining experiences, yet another thing that united us was our love for Coca-Cola and utter revulsion at the thought of drinking Pepsi.  If we ever got the dreaded “Is Pepsi OK?” response from a waitress, we never went back to that particular establishment if we didn’t in fact, walk out immediately.  One night while I was working at my lonely 3rd shift gas station gig I took the initiative and called every restaurant in the entire “Greater Metro Jackson Area” (snicker) and asked them if they served Coke or Pepsi, thus creating a list of acceptable establishments for our dining experiences.

E3ZAwud

Little Nicky was another movie we saw together, and we both laughed hysterically at this line…because we got it.  Totally.  

When we weren’t going out to the theater, we would hang out at my place and watch movies, or marathon through various television shows such as Seinfeld, Northern Exposure, or X Files.  We even tried to watch The Garbage Pail Kids Movie once, which is in my list of Top Ten Worst Movies ever made that aren’t even fun to watch.  (Trust me on this one.  No matter how morbidly curious you are.  Our time on this orb is way too short to be wasted on this sort of nonsense.)

A funny anecdote from this time period is that apparently at some point we went to see a movie called Conspiracy Theory and for some reason I just could not remember that I went with her.  This came about because I once asked her:  “Have you ever seen Conspiracy Theory?” (totally serious) and was greeted with a blank expression and a “Who do you think you went to that with?”  This probably would be an unremarkable story except for the fact that, some time later, I did it again!  (And I wasn’t kidding.  I was just thoroughly convinced I had gone to that particular movie with a different person.)  I’ve never figured out why.  I guess it may have been some sort of…conspiracy.

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We did other things too.  I took her to her first, and as far as I know only “Rock Concert.”  This was Weird Al Yankovic at Jackson Community College and was honestly one of the best concerts I have ever been to.  (And unlike her I’ve been to literally hundreds of concerts.)  We were both obsessed with Weird Al for a long time afterwards and I collected every one of his albums.

One Halloween we dressed up in costumes and drove all the way to Monroe Michigan, which is roughly 50 miles away from Jackson.  She was Raggedy Ann and I was a Jedi who roughly resembled Qui Gon Jinn.  We had convinced ourselves we wanted to go on something called a “Haunted Hay Ride.”  We drove all the way there, decided it was too cold, got food from a Wendy’s and drove all the way back, where we watched Halloween I and II.  We had embarked on a 100 mile road trip to acquire fast food.  That was the sort of thing we did.  All the time.

cedar_creek_mine_ride

Behold the terrifying Cedar Creek Mine Ride!  Reaching face melting speeds of 30 miles per hour and carrying you up to dizzying heights of FIFTY FEET!  

One year she convinced me to go to Cedar Point with her.  She thought I would be a good partner for this endeavor as I am deathly afraid of heights, and hence would share her desire to only ride the older, smaller rides.  (The Classics.)  What she may not have realized was that I had in fact never been on a roller coaster and it took two full passes through the park, copious amounts of alcohol on my part, and her finally getting frustrated enough to ask “Are we ever actually going to ride anything!?!” before I agreed to get on the mortifying CEDAR CREEK MINE RIDE!!!  Once the initial horror faded it ended up being a lot of fun.  So much so that I went with her one more time that summer, and the following year we bought season passes and went 9 times in one year.  I have tons of hilarious stories about these trips but I have already written and posted them in great detail in the following blogs.

https://domingosaurusrex.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/the-cedar-point-chronicles-part-one/

https://domingosaurusrex.wordpress.com/2015/08/20/the-cedar-point-chronicles-part-two/

https://domingosaurusrex.wordpress.com/2015/08/21/the-cedar-point-chronicles-part-3/

https://domingosaurusrex.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/the-cedar-point-chronicles-part-4/

https://domingosaurusrex.wordpress.com/2015/08/27/wanna-got-to-cedar-point-today-naaaah-lets-go-explore-grand-rapids-i-said-it-will-be-fun-i-said/

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One of only two known photographs of the two of us together.  The other is also from Cedar Point.   

Another tradition we began together was our annual “Christmas Movie Marathon.”  She would come over to my apartment early in the morning and we would prepare ridiculous amounts of food and sit around gorging ourselves and marathoning through Christmas movies and various Christmas related specials from our youth.   We did this around…you guessed it: Christmas and the event took place exactly twice.  The last time was at the tail end of the year 2000 and towards the end we got bored with Christmas movies and decided to go see Castaway, which was in the theaters at the time.  I had no idea that it would be the last time we would attend a movie together.  Soon  thereafter it was announced that she was pregnant with her first child and she was soon married and settling down to the business of creating a family.

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From left to right:  Linnea, Ginger, Wyatt, Husband Zachary and Max.  Youngest daughter Daisy was not yet born. 

So our “hanging out” days had come to a close but not so our friendship.  We stayed in  touch, and once in a great while found time for a brief lunch outing.  Then at long last I moved away from Jackson to continue my “schooling” and we saw each other even less, though from time to time we exchanged letters, usually on or around each other’s birthdays.

Then, just a few years ago, she finally jumped on the Facebook bandwagon and we were able to communicate whenever we wanted and kept each other abreast of our respective life adventures, hers in Parenthood and mine in Bachelorhood.  I was kept up to date on her transition from a ballet dancer to a teacher and then one day not so long ago she had succeeded in establishing her very own school:  Grace School of Dance.

It wasn’t too long after that when she announced she had cancer.  I did my best at the only thing I’ve ever really been good at, getting a laugh out of her as much as possible.  For a pretty impressive streak (for me) I posted a funny cat picture a day on her FB page and only one of them ended up offending her.  (I should have known better considering it came from a website entitled simply “Cats That Look Like Hitler dot Com.”)  Eventually I started having a hard time finding Funny Cat Pics that weren’t offensive so I moved on to other things, like some of our favorite Far Sides and stuff like that.

Over the next few years she had ups and downs with her sickness but she always seemed positive and I’m sure a lot of that had to do with the wonderful support network she had in her husband, parents and children.  I got to attend a couple of the Christmas ballets her company put on and she was always happy to see me afterward.   One time I came with a friend from work (Rachel) who I had told Linnea (in confidence, mind you) distinctly resembled a character from one of our favorite shows: Northern Exposure.  The character’s name is Eve and as soon as Linnea saw her she exclaimed “Oh my God! She does look like Eve!”     (Then I had to explain to Rachel who Eve was and what Northern Exposure was.)

3-17-eve-joel

This is Eve, from Northern Exposure.  The actress is Valerie Mahaffey,  (I only know this because I just google searched it.) 

Two weeks ago at the time of this writing Linnea was moved from her home to a Hospice care facility.  One week ago today I went to see her and I am very glad I did.  I wasn’t sure what it would be like but it turned out to be a very comforting experience.  She was surrounded by friends and family the whole time, and her husband and parents welcomed me warmly and thanked me for coming.  They immediately offered me the place of honor right next to her bed where she was sleeping soundly.  We all chatted about our memories with Linnea and it was lighthearted and even jovial.  There was a great deal of laughter, which I know is exactly how she wanted it.  She slept through most of my visit but did wake up several times and lit up just a little bit when she saw me sitting there next to her.   It was really hard to leave, because I knew this was good bye for real.

And sure enough it was  She passed away less than a week later.

It doesn’t seem fair that she is gone and I am still here but there it is and that’s the way things are and so it goes.    I’m having a really difficult time trying to decide how to end this…so here’s a picture of a Storm-trooper hitting his head.

Knock_Head_stormie

CLUNK!

If you don’t understand why this is hilarious that’s OK.  Linnea will get it and if she manages to find time in Heaven to read my little tribute to her,  I’ll bet she’s laughing right now.

10 Responses to “And It’s Another Good Bye To Another Good Friend”

  1. susielindau January 26, 2018 at 9:44 pm #

    What an amazing tribute and friendship. I’m sure she is doing a little dance in heaven after reading this.

  2. heb23 January 27, 2018 at 2:00 pm #

    Nice tribute, Dom. Sorry for your loss- she sounds like a very fun person!

    • domingosaurus January 27, 2018 at 7:37 pm #

      Thank you! She was indeed. I wanted to write down every single memory I have of hanging out with her, but it would have made my blog at least ten times as long.

      • heb23 January 28, 2018 at 4:32 pm #

        You should do it anyway, even if you don’t publish it!

      • domingosaurus January 28, 2018 at 5:22 pm #

        I have been. LOL!

  3. thefoodandwinehedonist January 27, 2018 at 2:19 pm #

    Dom, really sorry to hear of your loss.. but man, what an awesome tribute. You were so fortunate to have have an awesome friend like that.

  4. Heather Tasker January 27, 2018 at 6:19 pm #

    Sweet tribute. More hugs. ❤️

    • domingosaurus January 27, 2018 at 7:38 pm #

      Thank you Heather! Hugs are always welcome!

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