When I was in college and still cute (HA!), I was in a sorority. A sorority is basically a club, for those of you who aren’t from the US and don’t understand. It’s a club of (in this case) women who call one another sisters – and as I sit back and realize just how freaky this sounds – it’s like gaining a new extended family. Some of those sisters you love, and others, well, just as in a family – you barely tolerate. In fall of 1989 there were a group of five of us that joined the Rho Pledge Class of the Theta Phi Chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha at Cal State Fullerton. There were 30 in the pledge class if I remember right, but 5 of us sat together at a table and somehow, that forever melded us as a group. Laurie, Janell, Sheri, Michelle and I were inseparable to a degree, and in many ways we were each misfits within the house. I counted on them to get me through those college years, and I have no doubt that they in turn counted on me.
At some point during my junior year (Michelle, being two years older had already graduated), there was an argument. Actually there were several, and as a result – I was the odd man out. Deservedly. The details don’t matter (nor can I remember many of them), but the point is that I graduated and moved on without these girls. I didn’t try to keep in touch, and for many years I harbored deep resentment…and I’m stubborn on top of it all. Then last year at some point, Laurie found me on Facebook. I can’t tell you the type of joy that went through me. I was very nervous about finding the rest of them – I thought for sure they’d reject me, and as a result I think I really tried my best to protect myself. I can be a real hardass at times and as Amanda will tell you all – I’m no picnic. 😀 Since then, the five of us – they used to call us the Rho Pledge Class Clique – which is the biggest joke ever, have gotten together a few times and I love these girls more than ever. We have the type of friendship that goes beyond a sorority and spans a lifetime.
Late last night, I got a phone call – which never happens of course. It was my friend Michelle telling me that Laurie’s mom posted a note up on her page that she’d died. Immediately I said that it couldn’t be possible, and it couldn’t. I had just texted back and forth with Laurie last week while I was in the GA line for Biloxi. She was a huge Rick Springfield fan in the way I am about Duran Duran. (if that’s possible…as she always said “Well Rhonda, you DO write a blog. That pretty much makes you even more messed up than I am”, and we’d laugh. Gotta keep it in perspective, and Laurie was always good for that.) She was always shocked that I’d never made it to front row, and so when I finally did last week – I shared that info with her first. She was so excited for me. She encouraged me to ask for Dom’s pick and then said we’d celebrate when I got home. We had a lot to celebrate because our other friend Janell had just had a baby the day before we left, and we were all excited. Laurie had been coming back from one of her roadtrips somewhere and clipped a car, which sent her out of control. And now my friend is gone forever. It just can’t be.
I know this has nothing really to do with Duran Duran, but in a way – it really does for me. I have a small confession to make here. I’ve never really identified well with Ordinary World – that’s why it was so important to me when Simon explained the significance of the song to the band last week. I’ve had people die before of course, but the point of the song never resonated. Until this morning. I really don’t know how Sheri, Michelle, Janell and I will be the same again without Laurie interjecting her horrible rude humor or her great hugs. Laurie was willing to accept me with all of my faults and shortcomings. She wholeheartedly accepted an apology from me that was fifteen years late in coming, and I remember her hugging me after our first get together again since college and saying “You are not going to escape or go away again, Rhonda. We won’t let you. I won’t let you.” I feel like such a horrible friend this morning, I can’t even tell you. So my point is that I finally get it. Hard to believe, right?
There have been many times over this past year where Amanda and I have looked at one another or emailed and said that we have to just GO – or do whatever it is we’re thinking of doing because we never know when it’ll be the last time. Granted, 99% of the time it’s been in reference to this band. We did the UK again, we just finished driving 1300 miles, we got up at a ridiculous hour to be in the GA line by 7am to get front row, and rather than just sitting back and letting life happen, we decided to make the good things happen for a change. Of course, one can’t control everything. Nick’s illness, Simon’s voice…those are things we can’t actually control no matter how much we’d like, and they serve as good reminders that yes, someday this will end, and it will hurt, and it will happen when we least expect it, because that’s just what happens. Nothing could have prepared me for that phone call last night. Nothing. My pain is completely palatable, and yet I also feel numb and sort of paralyzed. I was telling my husband that when my dad passed away, I had already prepared myself. I knew it was coming and I suppose to some degree I’d already really grieved. This? Not so much. It is the worst pain I’ve ever felt. I’ve cried so much today (and as you all know I don’t do tears) that my head hurts. It’s barely 8:30 am my time.
Yeah, I know the band is a pain sometimes. I know the FANS are a pain sometimes . But we love one another. I wouldn’t want any single member of the band, or the band as a whole – to ever think otherwise. Sure I give them a really hard time, and I know I’ve been especially hard on Simon. I still love them and in a really strange way, they’re family. We’re a big dysfunctional family. Aren’t we lucky?? So, if you’re ticked off about the shows being canceled or you’re still mad about Red Carpet Massacre, or you think the guys are just a bunch of elitists that don’t care about their fans – I implore you to try again. Don’t do what I did and wait fifteen years only to have such a limited time. Part of me is VERY angry that Laurie was ripped away from us, and another part of me is so incredibly thankful that I had a whole year with her. I just wish that I would have told her one more time how much I love her. I won’t ever regret the time I spent with her…just the time I didn’t.
|From L-R: Michelle, Sheri, Me, Janell, Laurie|