Electric Grandmother

Maggie Croft's Personal Journal young spirit, wire-wrapped
spark electric grandmother
arc against the night

-- Lon Prater
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late-night musings

I really should be in bed right now reading Vellum and getting ready for some good sleep. Instead I'm here, writing to you all.

It's prolly too late to post about too in-depth tonight, but I've been thinking a lot about character motivation, sides to stories, and all the factors that make a story. Perhaps unlike a good portion of my musings, this has little to do with a story I'm writing currently and more to do with real life.

Let's start here:

My last year as an undergrad, I took an archaeology class with a gentleman who was in the military, had gone away to serve and had come back to finish his anthropology degree. My friend has a huge personality, often comes off as a complete bastard, and is terribly difficult for some to like. He doesn't take any crap, and he's not afraid to dish it out. But he's always been terribly kind to me, and when he did dish it out to someone I could always understand the rationale behind it. There's a lot of story behind these statements -- maybe I'll tell those at another time.

In any event, there was a lot to this man that a lot of people weren't aware of. His work with youth who needed someone to care about them and work with them to make their lives better. How, when one of our fellow students had a son who needed a new winter coat and the family couldn't afford one, my friend went and bought the kid a coat. It may not seem like a big deal, but it's a huge deal, if you ask me. I don't see a lot of people doing things like that.

So when people would talk about my friend and how he was an ass or a loser or how his ex-wife was better without him, I always thought about how kind he had always been to me and how he had bought the kid a coat and that he spent his Mondays with a scout troop and worked with kids in other capacities.

Perspective is an interesting thing. No?

Of course, my friend and I hadn't known each other too long before he met Rice. They are a lot alike in some ways and certainly hit it off quite quickly.

I graduated and started grad school. My friend continued to work on his degree. I left grad school and my friend was divorced from his wife and was shipped to Iraq.

Time passes...

Avadore was probably about a 1 1/2 when we were invited to go to a movie with some friends who live up here on the hill. We were sitting in their house when there was a knock at the door. And there was my friend. He was good friends with the family, strangely (and really not so strangely) enough and had also been invited to the movie (LotR: The Two Towers, I believe. So we went, had a great time, and then headed over to Poppa Pails for hot chocolate and to continue our conversation, which lasted until early into the morning.

My friend is like that. We can talk and talk and talk and talk.

In any event, Stuff happened to my friend. Of course, this is also a long story. The upshot is he became in involved with a young woman who was already engaged. Then she and my friend were engaged. Then he was shipped back to Iraq. They wrote and wrote and then she quit writing. And then she married the guy she had been engaged to previously. Her father was the one who told our friend. He hasn't heard from her since.

Certainly, there's a lot more to this story than what's here. And to properly explain the cultural implications and practices and other things involved in terms of choices made and what occurred and why the young woman couldn't make up her mind between two men and how she Dear Johned (Look! I made it a verb!) our friend would take a lot of time. I'm not even sure I could explain it to the point of any of you being able to understand. I live in Southeastern Idaho, and there are a lot of weird cultural practices here that can affect people's choices and behaviors in some peculiar ways.

In any event, the girl was married and moved.

We lost touch with our friend, again. And had no way of knowing where he was -- if he was still in Iraq, or was back in the US, or what.

We have been working on finding him, but so far, had no luck.

Because we were friends with the young woman who jilted our friend and her family, I must admit I was concerned my friend would avoid us. I wasn't sure what to expect. Rice had gone to the young lady's wedding (I had just had LD a couple days before, so I didn't attend), for crying out loud.

Rice or I was supposed to go to the grocery store on Saturday. Stuff kept happening to keep us from there. And we had to go -- we needed milk and bread (the kids go through a lot of milk and bread) and Rice needed some rice bread and I really didn't feel up to making it (or shopping, for that matter) because of my back. Finally, Rice made it out to the one particular store that carries the bread, but it was kind of late at night. He grabbed his bread and then moved into another aisle...

And then there was our friend. Rice would have missed him if our friend hadn't specifically come up and spoke to him. Thank goodness our friend did that. I've been so worried about him.

He took Rice to his vacation home. (He spends the week out of town working for the military and then comes back to work on a fixer-upper he bought.) They were up until after 2 a.m. talking about, truly, Life, the Universe, and Everything.

Including a lot of filling in details about what had happened with the young lady. Stuff that makes so much sense in terms of her actions. A lot of, "Ah hah!" moments. Essentially, she had done things that were not culturally acceptable in terms of her religion -- things that are so strongly engrained within her -- that she probably ended up freaking out just a little bit. Among a lot of people here, even just a slip of some foul language can cause tremendous guilt. I am completely serious about this.

So she "Dear Johned" the culturally unacceptable (at least at this point) man to marry the culturally acceptable one. And from what I hear, she's having a rough time of it.

And our friend still isn't over her. He had no time to mourn or get over it or deal with it, so he's doing it now -- over a year later. And it's hard.

But he's back now. Thankfully. And we know how to find him :). And we owe him dinner -- he told Rice he replaced his Firefly DVD's so we should just keep his he lent us if we feed him one night. (We spent a lot of time worrying about getting him his DVD's back.)

But it's given me a lot to think about.

And I still feel horrible for him. I felt awful for him a year ago when Rice and I got the wedding invitation for the young lady and her first fiancé. I opened it and was shocked. It was so sudden. Our friend had just given her a ring and everything.

I guess he was pretty surprised, too.

Jeez. I've got to get to bed, kids. I've been typing for 1/2 an hour.


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