On Losing Touch With Friends

I had two pretty close friends during my last few years as an active Mormon, both of whom have long since fallen off of my radar. One is Michelle, who was a church friend back when I was younger; and one is Ann, who moved to the Medina Ward as a teenager. Both Michelle and Ann were a couple of years older than I, and both were into “progressive alternative” music back in the early ’90s.

When Michelle was 16 and I was 14 or 15, we spent a good amount of time hanging out, doing my makeup, listening to Depeche Mode and The Cure, going to church dances and other functions. She drove me around quite a bit, actually, and I found out later that she had complained to Ann that I never thanked her for the rides. That was one of my first and most striking lessons in gratitude, especially since I had been totally clueless as to why we had suddenly stopped hanging out.

After Michelle stopped hanging out with me quite as much, I hung out with Ann. Ann got her driver’s license a bit later, but still well before I did, and we had a few fun adventures (like driving to libraries hither and yon right before closing just to find a copy of “True Stories” to watch — and going the wrong way down a one-way street in a strange city in the dark). We hung out at her house a lot, and watched “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” and listened to Depeche Mode and The Lightning Seeds, and talked about serious topics like depression, and went to church dances and acted silly and danced like stoned alterna-chicks before it was cool.

Ann and Michelle both went to college out west, in Utah and Idaho, attending Mormon-affiliated schools, and they both married in the mid-’90s. I got to see Ann during the semester I spent at home on Academic Suspension; she’d had a baby by then, and shared with me how understanding and helpful her husband had been during her time on bed rest. As for Michelle, I kept a clipping of her wedding announcement — I still have it in my overstuffed files somewhere.

Ann Gariety and Michelle Dolivier were such a big influence on who I became in later years, and I often wonder what became of them. I’ve done web searches, to no avail; they both married into much more common surnames. Really, though, I’m almost afraid to find out where they are now, because I don’t want to be disappointed. Some of the friends I have kept in touch with have really fallen short of where I thought they’d be by now. For the most part, my close friends over the years have been pretty intelligent people, and I always expected that they’d make something of themselves. It’s disappointing when my friends fall short of who I know they could have been.

I expect that Ann and Michelle are still in the church, still happily married, and probably have a minimum of three children each. Depending on your point of view, that’s pretty successful. From my point of view, though… I don’t know. I don’t measure success like I used to, back when I was a practicing Mormon. If I found out that one or both of them lives in a six-bedroom house in Utah (or Arizona, or Idaho), is Relief Society (LDS women’s auxiliary) president, goes to Homemaking Meeting every Wednesday, drives Billy to soccer practice and Suzie to her flute lessons, and makes time to scrapbook and sew… I’d probably be a little disappointed, honestly. Especially if they’ve jettisoned their CD collections.

Why? I’m not sure. It’s unfair to think that way, since that *is* some people’s idea (and used to be my idea) of a perfect life, of success. Success, for me, is… what? Still keeping my individuality, even as I try to make my way as a contributing member of society. Keeping busy with creative and constructive pursuits. Being financially stable. Having fun. Being happy with my station in life, or at least happy with the struggle to become more. Being unpredictable and unconventional. Being unique. Making people say, “Yep, that sounds like something you’d do…”

I’d like to think that Ann is still a little unconventional sometimes, although she’s always been the motherly, responsible type. I hope she bought the collector’s edition of the Monty Python DVDs, and I hope she’ll show them to her kids when they’re old enough (which should be pretty soon — her oldest would be about 12 by now). I’d like to think that Michelle still has her old cassette copy of Some Great Reward floating around in her basement or attic somewhere, but that she did buy the CD later on, and has kept up with the more recent DM releases. I hope she taught her kids all the cute and weird camp songs she taught me and the rest of the Young Women in church (e.g. “Sam the Lavatory Man” and the “‘Gunk-gunk,’ went Mr. Bullfrog” song). I hope she still plays piano.

I hope they remember me. I hope they don’t mind that I wrote about them.

Ruth Ann Gariety Hansen. Michelle Davida Dolivier… um… I’ll remember your married name eventually. My bad. Maybe you’ll Google yourselves and find my little blog and decide to catch me up on your lives. Here’s an entire website to catch you up on mine. 🙂