Day 40 — ’til Next Time — 40 Days of Writing, Spring 2017

I am officially giving myself a celebratory pat on the back, and possibly opening a bottle of bubbly to celebrate completing this 40 day excursion. Although not the first time I have written 40 days in a row, it is the first time in about 2-3 years.

The past few times I have started out pretty gung-ho, then fizzled after a week or two or three….and what I came to realize before embarking on Spring 2017 was that I was writing about stuff that simply scratched the surface of what was going on with me. Numerous times the blogs consisted of more of a diary; other times I was on some sort of rant.

About a week before the onset of Spring 2017, I expressed to a good friend — also a writer — my frustration in not being able to put all of my swirling thoughts into some form of context; basically, I didn’t know where or how to begin. He suggested I start with “A” and move through the alphabet, writing about the first thing that came to mind with each letter. Although I didn’t write about the first thing that came to mind with each corresponding letter, that strategy proved to be an integral part of gathering my thoughts and ideas into some kind of format; a good beginning, hence Day 1 — Apologies. From there I found it easier to stay on track (thanks, Doug).

You’ll notice, by the title of this entry, that I only got as far as “T.” Hmmm…26 letters in the alphabet, and 40 days of writing; how did this happen? Numerous chapters on the same subject, that’s how. Even had I gotten through all 26 letters, I would have had to start from “A” again, so there was bound to be repetition either way. This approach worked fine.

I also decided that the diary and rant approaches weren’t satisfying my palate — and weren’t getting a lot of traction. I needed to go deeper. Way deeper. My memory is long, and I have enough life experience to draw from, to where the combination of both might enable me to come up with material that would not only interest and inspire me to keep writing, but perhaps be of interest to others, as well.

The last and most poignant strategy is derived from a quote from the late, acerbically great Carrie Fisher, “Take your broken heart, make it into art.” Just this moment, pecking out that statement on my keyboard, I have to fight back the tears.

It’s so true. Although I try to stay positive, enjoy life and surround myself with like minds, I am much more complex than that. There is no denying the undercurrent of terribly depressing things that have happened in my life that need attention. Iris, Marvel and Julie were all taken too soon; writing extensively about them — each warranted numerous Days of Writing — helped me heal, and honor them at the same time. While formatting my memories of each, working to get my stories into some sort of context, I would often find myself sobbing — and I took that as my cue to keep going. Don’t stop. Surrender to the tears. Blurred text, typos, and raccoon eyes be damned. Carrie Fisher would be proud.

Yes, there were also a few days — usually when I was coming off multiple chapters on one subject — where I just needed to keep things light and somewhat brief. We sometimes forget that writing for 40 days straight can mean a few paragraphs, one paragraph, or even a sentence or two — and it can be whatever you feel like writing about. Yes, let’s not forget.

Of course there was that one handful of days when I had had it up to here with Facebook narcissists, and needed to vent. So much for being positive; I’m only human, so I may as well work it out here, in this fashion, rather than attacking people to their faces. If I offended anyone from our 40 Days community, it was so not my intention. I love you all, and I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment on my work.

And “work” it was. Well, maybe a labor of love. Regardless, carving out the time each day was probably the most challenging part of this project, but somehow I was able to make it happen. Breaking subject matter down into chapters really helped, and a bonus in utilizing this method is that the reader only has to carve out a certain amount of time, as well. Yes, in the past I have had good friends tell me that, although they enjoyed my blogs, they preferred the shorter ones. Although their prerogative, it’s something I have since kept in mind, and applied when feasible. Feedback of any kind is usually quite helpful.

So, ’til next time. No promises on the next round (Summer 2017, anybody?), but I did learn a lot this time — especially about myself.

Thanks, everyone!

Pink
Me, celebrating 40 Days of Writing, with a glass of grapefruit champagne.

 

 

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Day 39 — Saturday — 40 Days of Writing, 2017

My Saturday got off to an excellent start when I woke up a few minutes before 4:00 a.m., shut off my alarm before it went off on its own, walked across the bedroom and shut off my back-up alarm, went into the bathroom, and while peeing, realized it was Saturday and that I could sleep in. This never happens, so I’m thinking it may have had something to do with the two shots of really good tequila (leftover from the tequila bar at our annual Christmas party — Chuck only buys high-end for that event) I had the night before, plus some nice hits of some excellent weed once Chuck went to bed (I usually only vape the stuff, but now and then I crave actual smoke).

Talk about a natural high, getting to go back to bed once the realization kicks in. I slept in until about 9:30, then lingered in bed, played some games on my computer, and planned my day.

At 11:30 I met Diane for pedicures. We always have mimosas when there on Saturdays. She showed up with her wine tote with a good bottle of chilled cava, while I brought the Pom. We wound up drinking out of Dixie cups, as she forgot to pack plastic wine glasses in her tote. 1st World problems, right?

Always fun to catch up with Diane; we talk about work a lot, but since we’re in careers that we love, the conversation is always lively and engaging.

Finishing up the cava as our toes dried, we talked about stuff going on the next few weekends. It’s getting so that every one of our weekends is filled with something; either out-of-town guests, Easter, a party, or some other social event. More 1st World problems.

I am actually writing this during a break, before heading out later to VinDiego, a wine tasting event at Liberty Station. We were at another such event last Saturday, but this one  I got free tickets for, and there will be food vendors there (all inclusive). Unlike last Saturday, however, we will be coming straight home afterwards and staying put for the rest of the day.

So that is my Saturday in a nutshell. Tomorrow will be more about chores around the house, because there is nothing worse than waking up at 4:00 a.m. Monday morning — when it really is a workday — and looking around to see that nothing got done over the weekend because I was having too much fun. That’s a 1st World problem I plan to dodge.

Happy Saturday, everyone.

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Day 38 — Remembering Julie, conclusion — 40 Days of Writing, Spring 2017

Just because you don’t hang out with certain people anymore doesn’t mean they’re not still on your radar. Once we were in high school, Julie and I had a class or two together, even sharing a table in 11th grade Biology or Chemistry (probably the same one I shared with her biggest fan, Russ Nuovo, the previous year). We got a chance to chat a bit about the old days, and she confided in me that it was a “D” she received in Mrs. Mahoney’s math class in 8th grade that kept her from trying out for the cheerleading squad.

Regardless, Julie was making her way nicely through high school, being a Letterette our Junior year and Varsity Cheerleader our Senior year, as well as Princess on the Homecoming Court.

A year or two after graduation I saw that Julie was a cheerleader for the Oakland Stompers soccer team, and then later became a Raiderette. Needless to say her cheerleader experiences in high school and after, more than made up for her big disappointment back in 8th grade. Even though we were out of touch I couldn’t help but feel proud — and somewhat inspired — that this young woman went for what she wanted and got it!

Raiderette Julie
Raiderette Julie

The next time I ran into Julie it was in San Francisco, in the hall of the Sheraton Palace at our 10-year class reunion. She was married (as was I), curvier, and still gorgeous. She briefly caught me up, saying her dad had passed away of an illness a year or two before, but her brothers and mom were doing well.

I saw her again at our 20-year class reunion at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley. I got a chance to sit and visit a bit with her and her husband Jay; they seemed like such a fun couple. “Kelly’s the one who went with my family to Sonoma Coast that summer,” Julie said to Jay as I sat down. I was flattered that she remembered.

In 2006 I was visiting Antioch after having been away for 25 years. My mom and stepdad had moved back into the house I grew up in on Minaker Drive. There was an engagement announcement in the local paper, and I realized it was Julie and Jay’s daughter.

JAY & JULIE
Jay and Julie toasting at their daughter’s wedding 

A few years later I sent Julie a friend request on Facebook, identifying myself as Kelly Hendrix, but it was never accepted. She and Jay had a joint Facebook account, so there may have been some confusion; or perhaps she simply didn’t want to reconnect. Either way, I didn’t take it too personally.

A mutual friend from back in the day, Missy (Caldwell) McCullough and I were Facebook friends at the time, and she had gotten in touch with Julie, and had an actual conversation with her. She said that Julie had broken down in tears on the phone, perhaps out of joy, connecting with an old friend. Missy also mentioned that Julie was sick, but couldn’t give me any details.

Julie died on April 10th, 2015. I found out via Facebook through our mutual childhood friend Cozette — a friend I had rekindled with, and still keep in good contact with. Cozette and Julie had at one time been neighbors on Hillcrest Avenue. I was both devastated and shocked by the news, and Cozette had an even more personal affiliation with Julie, as they shared the exact same birthday (talk about having mortality punch you right in the throat).

I immediately visited Julie and Jay’s Facebook page and could see the condolences rolling in, along with a beautiful picture of Julie that looked to have been taken over the past five years or so. Someone actually made a comment that it was good to see (the picture of her) back “when she was healthier,” so I knew Missy’s mentioning of illness was true. What kind of illness, many of us have been left guessing.

I also noticed in the upper right-hand corner of their Facebook page, “Friend Request Sent,” which was the one I had sent several years before.

My heart couldn’t help but ache for Julie’s mother Martha and her brothers Bill and Tom. Knowing them all back in the day, who would have imagined that this beautiful daughter and sister — with still so much life ahead of her — would be torn from them so soon? How huge of a void did her passing leave?

I have some regret that I never got a chance as an adult to let Julie know how much her friendship meant to me back in 1973-74; how she was sort of the wind beneath my wings after my father died, how special she made me feel, and how, without knowing it at the time, I probably had what would now be considered a bit of a girl crush on her — which hopefully she would take as a huge compliment.

Sadly enough, Julie’s husband Jay died just six weeks later, of a heart condition. No one seemed surprised. They left behind two daughters, two grandsons and a multitude of other family members and friends who clearly adored this couple.

Both Julie and Jay’s obituaries indicate that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Having already been a donor, it’s been an honor to recognize Julie and Jay since then.

As sad as it is to have a special friend from your childhood pass away, I take solace in knowing that Julie touched so many lives, just as she touched mine. Also, knowing what I have come to know about her, she would certainly encourage us to go for what we want, live life to its fullest and cherish the time we have left.

Remembering Julie — always.

Julie Shipe

 

 

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Day 37 — Remembering Julie, Part IV — 40 Days of Writing, Spring 2017

I think one of the most pleasantly surprising things about Julie Fairhurst was that, at the time, she seemed to have no idea how lovely she was. By age 12 I had already encountered numerous girls my age who were attractive, and knew it; whether they handled it gracefully or took advantage of it was clearly on a case-by-case basis. Perhaps it was her upbringing, or the fact that she was somewhat self conscious about her nose (slight hook at the end), Julie set the standard when it came to humility and grace, while possessing a beauty that could be compared to a young Natalie Wood.

Julie

Having her share of friends, plus two younger brothers, it seemed their home on Hillcrest Avenue was always a hub of activity. Before summer ended we decided to throw a fundraiser fair for Muscular Dystrophy, a disease that my cousin Clark suffered from. The components for the fair came in some kit that you ordered from the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, but I think Julie got hers second hand from somebody.

Anyway, I don’t remember a lot about the fair except we had a fortune teller, a neighbor and school mate named Debbie Newby. We weren’t real crazy about her, but since she was willing to help out, and had an authentic-looking fortune teller outfit, we thought, why not? She sat in a makeshift tent made of boards and a large quilt.

Anyway, toward the end of the fair, we heard a commotion and Julie and I looked up to see her brother Billy, and Debbie’s brother Steve rough-housing near the tent, and all of a sudden it all came crashing down on Debbie. From the wreckage we hear Debbie, in an annoyed yet calm voice, “Nice going, Steve.” It was all Julie and I could do to keep ourselves from bursting out laughing, as we helped unbury our fortune teller.

I don’t even remember how much money we raised that day ($15.00, maybe?), but it was a good experience.

Julie and I shared some classes in the fall of our 8th grade year, and a group of us would sometimes hang out at lunch. She was becoming a bit more extroverted, playing Clara in the production of Heidi, at our school. She was also starting to stand up to people more, verbally challenging a 9th-grade semi-bully named Angie — who ironically also had a part in Heidi — when Angie tried to boss her in line while we were waiting for the bus to take us home. I was taken aback by this once-demure friend of mine, but proud of her, just the same.

kelly

In October Julie helped my mother and I throw a 3rd birthday party for my little brother Brian. Brian referred to her as “Jewy,” and always looked forward to having her come by the house. My mother thought that Julie was one of the sweetest, prettiest girls ever, but I didn’t feel as if she was comparing me in any way. Besides, Julie was very humble and polite, always saying, “Thank you for everything,” any time adults treated her to something. Up until then I wasn’t all that great at saying “thank you,” to adults, so I feel I may have learned some of my manners from her.

Julie also had her sights set on trying out for cheerleader for the following year, which I thought was incredibly bold. I remember cavorting around in her backyard and she would do these cheers and leap in the air like a pro, while I, in all of my clumsiness, was more mascot material — but eons away from ever having the confidence or ambition to try out.

Julie had several families who she babysat for, and she was kind enough to put me in contact with three of those families who lived in our neighborhood. I was sort of her backup, which still gave me plenty of work. Thrilled to have a form of income outside of my month allowance, I learned at an early age the power of networking and that it really is “who you know.”

Later in that school year I could feel a sort of shift in Julie’s and my friendship. I had a separate set of friends, including Karen Bryce and Cozette Bouslog; Julie was gravitating more toward another set of friends we shared, Missy Caldwell, Debbie Carlin — girls who, although fun, could also be somewhat catty and critical at times.

Although still a great person, I could see mannerisms in Julie that reflected her maturing faster than me, and coming more out of her shell — plus she was sort of being pulled into a clique that I didn’t feel comfortable being part of. I had been to some of the slumber parties and, although I had an easy time making the other girls laugh, I still felt like the awkward friend with the unstable home life. Looking back I realize my own issues probably saved me a lot of headaches in the long run. I needed to go at my own pace.

Slowly drifting out of the friendship we once shared proved to be much more palatable than you would think, and over time we hardly noticed. By age 13 I was all too familiar with the comings and goings of friends; it was just a part of life. We had a great run, that summer of ’73, and on into ’74. I wouldn’t have traded it in for anything.

Bookworm

To be continued.

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Day 36 — Remembering Julie, Part III — 40 Days of Writing, Spring 2017

The summer of 1973 was one of mixed emotions; it was my first summer without my dad, but somehow my friendship with Julie helped to keep a significant amount of grief at bay. There were frequent sleepovers — mostly at her house, which was bigger than my home — and a feeling of warmth and family that Julie’s parents and even her younger brothers bestowed upon me. I didn’t consider myself a charity case, nor did they; but just the same, that family sort of took me under their wing.

Julie and I were so different, yet we seemed to connect in various ways, in that we laughed at the same things and enjoyed some of the same TV shows and activities. Her petite prettiness and sense of grace still invoked in me a certain awkwardness. At 5’5”, I was a good three inches taller than she (and a few of our mutual friends), a bit clumsy (falling off a fence at her house one afternoon — don’t ask) and starting to develop — as 12-year-old girls do — which all added to my occasional feelings of insecurity.

All of my awkwardness aside, Julie was still a bright light. She was clearly a daddy’s girl, and looking back, I’m sure that that had a lot to do with her compassion for me losing my own father. To her, what I was going through must have seemed unimaginable, when truthfully, my father and I didn’t possess a fraction of the closeness Julie and her father had. She was one of those daughters that clearly had her dad Bill wrapped around her finger; he would kid around with her, and any time she would act the diva or sass him a bit, he would exclaim in mock frustration, “Oh, Julie….!” It was a most endearing exchange to witness, and I thought how very fortunate they all were to have each other.

Julie’s mother Martha, with her somewhat loud voice and boisterous laugh, seemed more extroverted than Bill. Although more of a disciplinarian, she still possessed a certain warmth and graciousness that I found very comforting when I was at their home.

Julie had a pet poodle named Babette. A medium-sized grey dog, “Babby” was Julie’s pride and joy. She walked her over to my house one afternoon. I heard a commotion out front and ran out to find Julie clutching Babette and screaming, as a big dog was jumping up on them. The bigger dog wasn’t ferocious; just overly playful, but Julie was scared just the same. My neighbor, Joe Recalt, chased the big dog away. Joe later relayed to me that he thought Julie was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. Joe was 38 years old. Pervert.

Another family member that Julie was extremely close to was her paternal grandmother. Not being that close to my own conservative, old- fashioned  — and okay, I’ll say it, boring — grandma, I found Julie’s devotion to her grandma quite endearing, as well as intriguing. It didn’t take much effort on Julie’s part, as her grandma was an extremely humorous little Italian woman who spoke in broken English. Once while Julie and I were at her grandma’s house, we were laughing at something, and the grandma exclaimed, “I laughed so hard I tooted!” That just about had Julie and me rolling on the ground.

Another time while Julie and I were walking down “A” Street, not far from the Catholic church, her grandma drove by, and when she saw us, she excitedly turned completely around in the driver’s seat and pointed at us with her mouth agape, as the car continued to roll down the street. Again, we practically laughed ourselves to tears.

The Fairhurst family once took me with them to the Sonoma coast for several days. It was a scenic, yet brutal ride, sitting in the back of their station wagon as it meandered up the winding roads. Prone to motion sickness, it was nothing short of a miracle that I didn’t throw up. To make matters worse, Julie and 10-year-old brother Billy broke out a bag of Spearmint chewy candy, which, due to my aversion to mint at the time, only exacerbated my nausea.

Finally we reached our destination: a white clapboard inn along the coast, where our suite consisted of a couple bedrooms, bathroom, plus a small living room, kitchenette and dining area.

The younger brother, 8-year-old Tommy, was camping with friends nearby, so it was mostly Julie, Billy and I that hung out, roaming the area, crossing a small river to the beach where the ocean waves crashed aggressively toward the rocks.

There was a clubhouse at the inn, and one afternoon as we were hanging out there we noticed a Time magazine with a Marilyn Monroe spread inside. Billy, purring “Oh, mama…,” tore the nude photos out and tucked them into his shirt.

Later that night in the clubhouse there were some teenagers playing cards. Fascinated by their banter, we spied on them from the foot of the stairs that led up to the lounge area where they sat. All of a sudden Billy let out a huge fart, alerting the group to our presence, and we hightailed it back to our room.

Sonoma Coast

One afternoon the three of us kids headed through the tall grasses above the cliffs — the scent of something similar to dill wafting through the air — across the small river, and over to the beach area, where we climbed large rocks, dodged the huge waves and looked for shells, interesting rocks and sea glass. We zipped in and out of the crevices of the jagged cliffs that towered above us. We had no idea that Julie and Billy’s parents were concerned about where we were.

A couple hours later we looked up to see their mom Martha frantically trotting down the beach. She was out of breath and almost in tears.

“I’ve been looking all over for you kids! You had me worried sick,” gasping for air, she could barely get the words out. “I was almost certain you all had been carried out to sea by one of these huge waves — and all of a sudden I see Kelly come out from behind a rock and do a somersault, and I was, ‘Oh, thank God!’”

Probably one of those “’had to be there” moments,” but the last part had us all doubling over with laughter. Those kids perceived me as somewhat of a clown anyway, so Martha’s depiction sort of put a stamp on it.

During this trip we visited the nearby campground where the youngest son Tommy was camping with another family. I was amazed at how we could be in the middle of all these tall, glorious pines, and yet still so close to the ocean.

Except for a few camping trips to Pipi Valley back when I was around 3-4 years old,  and another time joining up with my dad in Bodega Bay where he kept his commercial fishing boat, my family never went on any vacations like this. The combination of beach, craggy rocks, crashing waves, the smell of dill, a nearby forest, a charming inn — and most of all, a gracious and welcoming family, would all remain forever engrained in my memory and in my heart.

25 years later, at our 20-year class reunion, I would relay my appreciation to Julie on what that trip meant to me — and laugh with her again about how I obliviously managed to temper Martha Fairhurst’s brief hysteria with something so simple as a somersault on the sand.

To be continued.

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Day 35 — Remembering Julie, Part II — 40 Days of Writing, Spring 2016

The beginning of school year at Antioch Junior High in the fall of 1972 held in store many changes, physical and emotional. Kimball’s Elementary School “grads” were being thrown in with three other elementary schools: Bidwell, Fremont and Turner, plus a handful of Holy Rosary students who decided (for one reason or another) to discontinue their studies at the Catholic school and join up with us in our 7th grade year.

After seven years at the same school, it was a combination of intimidating, exhilarating and surreal to be in this new environment. I would be riding the bus to and from school; there were more classes, each with a different teacher; lunch was different in that you could pick whatever you wanted to eat, and pay accordingly; gym involved having to take showers in front of your female classmates (are you kidding me?!). It was all so overwhelming, but after an awkward start, I became pretty acclimated in the first few weeks.

Julie was in my first period Drama class and a couple other classes later in the day. There was a handful of other kids from Kimball in that class, and we had Mrs. Wilkinson as our teacher. Julie and I had both had Mrs. Wilkinson’s husband, Mr. Wilkinson in 4th grade.

Since Drama class had no seating assignments like most of our other classes, it was natural for kids to gravitate toward any friends they had from their respective elementary schools.  That was probably one of the factors that sort of threw Julie and me together. The other factor was, although Julie and I weren’t exactly neighbors, we did live in the same housing tract and took the same bus to and from school.

Kelly
From our 1973 yearbook. I defaced my picture
by coloring my hair with a yellow highlighter pen.
(I was odd.)

It was funny how something as mundane as a 20-minute bus ride to school with a bunch of other sullen kids could suddenly transform into borderline euphoric if the right song came on the radio. I remember hearing the keyboard intro to King Harvest’s Dancing in the Moonlight and looking over my shoulder and seeing Julie sitting in the back of the bus with the biggest, sweetest smile on her face, and it was like an unspoken language that this Top 40 hit was a mutual favorite. (One-hit wonder artists take solace in that your songs still have the ability to transport.)

Julie also liked David Essex’s Rock On, which became a hit later in our school year. She was singing it one time at lunch, lowering her voice when she came to the “James Dean” part. I thought it was so funny, coming from such a petite, pretty girl; after that, anytime that song came on the radio on the bus I would look at her and smile at that part of the song. James Dean. I was so silly and somewhat dorky, and she’d get a little embarrassed and then start laughing.

As much as Julie had her favorites, there was one song she detested: The Cisco Kid, by War. She made the mistake of announcing this one day in earshot of Frank Christie, so from then on he referred to her as “Cisco.”

(My last name being Hendrix, he referred to me as Jimi)

During our second semester of 7th Grade we had Art class instead of Drama. One morning while making papier-mâché masks out of newspaper shreds and homemade glue I thought it would be funny to take a strip of newspaper, dab some glue in the middle of it and pin it under Julie’s and my mutual friend Cozette Bouslog’s nose. I told Julie my plan and she looked kind of doubtful, but still remained close by to see what would transpire.

“Hey, Cozette,” I leaned in to our friend, and when Cozette turned my way, I said, “Have a mustache,” and attempted to pin the paper above her lip. I basically missed, instead getting some of the mixture in her mouth.

Talk about coming unglued, Cozette snarled, “Darn you, Kelly Hendrix, that’s not funny!” She then marched over to a small bucket of the glue, cupped some in her bare hand and headed back toward me at a pace where I didn’t even have time to run. The whole class let out a collaborative gasp in anticipation, and as the dollop of glue came hurling, hitting my upper body, the class in unison all exclaimed “Oooooh!,” with Frank Christie’s bass tone coming across the loudest.

The male teacher we had for that class was real big on calisthenics for discipline, giving you a choice of 100 push-ups, jumping jacks or touching your toes. Cozette and I were directed toward the back of the room for our punishment, and Julie, who was considered an accomplice, was ordered to join us. Push-ups being too unsanitary (touching the floor and all), and jumping jacks causing pubescent anxiety (jiggling in front of classmates), we opted for toe-touches. One problem: Julie was wearing a dress, so she basically stooped down, bending at the knee to do her share.

Fortunately the three of us remained friends after that ordeal, and we managed to stay out of trouble for the time being.

We like our fun and we never fight
You can’t dance and stay uptight….

My life changed forever April 27th of that year when my father was killed in a truck accident. My mom didn’t want to be at the house, so we stayed at my Aunt Berniece’s in Brentwood. Although I missed school for a week, I didn’t miss any assignments, as Julie was kind enough to make the rounds to my various classes and collect them, then have them delivered to our mutual family friends, the Cottiers (Bill Cottier worked with Julie’s dad), who delivered them to me. School work also helped me stay preoccupied, providing the distraction I needed from my shock and grief.

Such a thoughtful and simple gesture on Julie’s part helped to advance our friendship, which would provide me with just the support I needed to get me through such a difficult time.

.Julie

 Julie’s yearbook photo and signature.

To be continued.

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Day 34 — Remembering Julie, Part I — 40 Days of Writing, Spring 2017

I believe it was in Biology class, during our second semester of 10th grade. I sat at a table with two boys and another girl. They had just passed out our textbooks. Suddenly one of the boys, Russ Nuovo, leans over to the other boy and says in a hushed yet pleasant tone, “Dude, Julie Fairhurst had this book last semester! Oh, my God, she is so beautiful!” He then grabbed a blank sheet of 8 ½ x 11, placed it over her signature in the book, and traced it, all the while managing to keep his drool off the paper.

I found it amusing, but kept my composure. I also felt sort of a wave of pride that Julie had been one of my best friends in Jr. High. She was beautiful then, as well, and I remember feeling so awkward around her much of the time, yet her sweetness and my ability to make her laugh somehow helped level the playing field.

Julie and I actually met in third grade, in Mrs. Wallack’s class at Kimball Elementary. I believe it was during recess that this petite, doe-eyed girl with saucy dark curls started talking to me. I don’t remember much else, except a few weeks later I heard my dad talking about a co-worker named Bill Fairhurst, and when I asked my dad if Bill had a daughter named Julie, he said he thought so. Turns out Julie and I had something in common besides being schoolmates.

3rd Grade Class
Julie, front row, second from left. I’m in the middle of the row behind her, in the red shirt.

During the next few years at Kimball we were in some of the same classes, and we had a few mutual friends, including Missy Caldwell, Debra Carlin, and later Debbie Neeley; but since Karen Bryce was my best friend most of that time — and due to her nerdiness, never really fit in with those other girls, I remained more on the outskirts of their clique.

That was elementary. Things would evolve once we progressed to Antioch Junior High.

To be continued.

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