Last week I received news that an extremely dear friend of mine is moving back to the Boston area. This is the kind of news that makes me want to jump up and down while clapping my hands and squealing. Seriously. Probably because the last time we both lived in Boston we were in our mid twenties, still acting like complete freak shows. Then again maybe it was just me doing the squealing and jumping back then, she was never much of a jump up and down while clapping type. Well, not if you didn’t know her. Once you get to know the girl, all bets are most definitely off.
Di and I met in 1996, very typical to the way I met most of my closest friends, I just approached her, said ‘hi’, and struck up a conversation. I’ve never really been known as shy. We both worked for Victoria’s Secret at the time; I had started in the Burlington location while she worked on the north shore. I was being promoted to Manager of the Saugus shop so to get trained they sent me off to an A+ shop, Peabody. Dianna was the Stock Room Manager there and we met my first day.
As the week went on we got to talking and laughing and had a great time while I was learning the ins and outs of running a bigger store like Saugus. For those who don’t remember (and are local) the Burlington Vicky’s, although exceptionally high volume, used to be teeninesy; think a shop the size of Lids but twice as deep, then stuff it with just as much merchandise as the store carries today and you’ve got yourself a truly unique working environment, especially during the Christmas season. Both Peabody and Saugus were large square footage shops but the volume level in Saugus left a lot to be desired so I just enjoyed my time in a busy place, learning the ropes from the Managers of Peabody.
Late in the week sometime Di and I were chatting about who knows what and somehow the conversation took a turn to the fact that she needed a ride home. ‘No problem’ I said ‘Lynn is totally on the way to Everett.’ Um, yeah not so much. But I hooked her home anyway and that was that, we were making plans to hang out sometime.
There was no way I was inviting her over to my place considering my boyfriend’s propensity for constructing acrylic bongs had taken over our entire kitchen and there was at least a pound of weed just sitting on the floor of our closet. I didn’t smoke at the time and I didn’t know if she did so I certainly wasn’t about to force his lifestyle down her throat. Unbeknownst to me there was a similar situation going on over at her place, so we made plans to meet at the Revere movie theater to see Mission Impossible.
I got there a little early and bought our tickets, got into the theater and did a quick scan to see if she had arrived before me. She hadn’t made it yet so I got a seat near the back in order to catch her when she arrived. The previews started and because I was a poor retail worker I decided to go and return the other ticket. They took it back and I went to watch the movie. At the end of the show I sat for a few to watch the credits like I always do and the theater cleared out pretty quickly.
When the credits were over I walked down to the exit door and stepped right out into the parking lot. All I heard was ‘Hey!’. There was Dianna on the side of the door. Apparently she had arrived late and convinced the ticket taker that I had bought her ticket, they let her in and she sat in the back so she could scan the theater to find me. I had worn my hair different than usual so she didn’t recognize me from the back but she sat exactly two rows behind me, where she had gotten in for free. We both laughed and she bought me a Dunkin’s coffee to pay back the other half of my ticket then we sat in the parking lot listening to music, drinking coffee and chain smoking cigarettes for a couple hours, laughing and having a great time.
We were instant friends.
As the next two years passed we both went through major job changes, major life changes and, as is typical for me, lots of different apartments. We both got out of the world of retail hell but landed in the same company again at DMR Mortgage Services where at least the new hell was only nine to five Monday through Friday. I was selling loans and she was working in wholesale processing as a Liaison. In 1998 the industry had some seriously historic low rates and business was booming. So much so that some other company decided to buy us out. I had just gone through a similar situation in another corporate merger about a year prior and was not at all ready to go through it again, so I left.
Turned out everyone else did as well when the entire staff was let go so they could bring in all of their own people. It was quite an interesting time as everyone scattered to the wind either going to other mortgage companies or getting out of the business completely. This was in April of 1999.
Back in December of 1998 Dianna decided to go down to visit with her cousin in North Carolina for New Year’s eve; her aunt and uncle were there as well and her mom went just about every year too. She needed some geographic space from the guy she was living with at the time who, although a nice guy, was definitely not right for her. While in NC she met her cousin’s roommate, a guy who was amazingly kind and generous, liked to party and quickly fell head over heels for her. She did too and come the time of the DMR layoff Dianna announced, in typical fashion for her, that she was packing up and moving to North Carolina to live with this guy.
I couldn’t have been happier for her to have found someone so sweet but selfishly I was hoping that the engine on every rental truck in the city spontaneously caught fire on the same day so she couldn’t leave. Her new man came up so we could all meet him and since she had moved into her mom’s for a while, and her mom was out of town for the weekend, we had the most raucous going away party to ever last forty eight hours. Her little sisters came over, their friends, her cousins, our friends we had both met at various companies and goodness knows who else because we were all hammered for two straight days.
When the morning came that she was leaving we all hugged goodbye but I immediately started looking up prices of tickets to go and visit as soon as possible on my measly little Administrative Assistant salary. There were so many great weekends spent down there from Ozzfest to clubbing but when I split with my boyfriend in late fall 1999 I planned to go and hang out for two straight weeks over New Year’s. This was the Y2K event referred to previously. She was psyched to have me down and constantly tried to convince me that I should move there. For a brief while after getting together with Matt he and I actually considered doing so as we were looking to do home flipping for a living back then.
Instead, Matt and I pursued the Labor of Love and, well, most of us know how that situation turned out.
Needless to say Dianna was in NC for a whole bunch of years and Matt and I ended up moving to Springfield. Once we bought the house, frequently referred to as the money pit, our trips to visit friends pretty much ceased and during that time Di was having some major life changes. Her marriage ended and she even moved back to the northeast where she lived with us for a while but commuted the two and a half hours each way to Long Island every day for her job. She eventually moved into a place on Staten Island and met a guy who was also fun and funny but a little older with a bit more direction and career ambition; they both worked in the mortgage industry.
Eventually Matt and I moved to Long Island as well where he got a job at a big boy mortgage company and we moved into my cousin’s basement apartment for a brief time until her boyfriend, who had moved in with her, offered to let us rent his little ranch house. Di and her boyfriend had moved out about a half hour east on the island and it was great to have friends so close by that we hung out all the time.
And then the mortgage industry imploded.
The company that both she and her boyfriend worked for not only closed, but in doing so laid off upwards of 5,000 people on the island (close to 6,500 nationwide). In addition to that there were companies shutting down by the hour, Matt’s included, and the once prosperous industry flooded the little island with unemployment claims and thousands fighting for the same job openings (if any). Matt found some per diem work but was living on borrowed time. Dianna and her boyfriend decided instead of fighting with all of those people for jobs they were going to just move back to his hometown of Dallas, Texas.
This time I cried and unceremoniously freaked out. I cried like a little sissy girl because I knew that things were going to be much different than the North Carolina move; I knew we were going to be hard pressed to actually see each other much, if at all. With me doing faux finishing and Matt basically unemployed we were having a difficult enough time paying the bills in LINY plus carrying the albatross of a money pit in Springfield (which we had been trying to sell for, oh, about five years at this point) let alone buying plane tickets and taking time away from job hunting to fly off and visit friends. Mostly I just freaked out because now I had no one in New York and I was really going to miss my friend.
Their company closed in early August of 2007 and they left for Texas within just a couple weeks. Matt’s borrowed time was coming to a close so we too made a move, right back to the one place I swore I would never live again, Boston. He worked for some family and I started pursuing a career as a full time finisher and started my company, Chucka Stone Designs, in October of 2007.
With the move back came a 70% pay cut. We lived rent free but paying the bills in a family house until April of 2008 when we moved back to the other place I swore I would never live again, my hometown of Arlington. During our first year back in Massachusetts, I was at an extremely low point in my head, so was Matt, and the two of us suffered a lot because of it. Our house got foreclosed on in July of 2008, every credit card went to collection, we were eating chicken soup literally every night because we couldn’t afford to go grocery shopping, we considered getting divorced, I actually considered leaving the living world. It was quite a sucky time.
In early 2009 Matt went back to the mortgage industry and we decided that the only way to really fix any of our past messiness would be to file bankruptcy. It was not a decision we came to lightly but no matter how many times either of us worked out the numbers and figured in salary increases or me taking on more paint jobs, we still came to the conclusion that we would literally never be able to pay off the debt. We weren’t exactly happy about it but knew that we were in the same boat with a large portion of the country and knew it was the one thing that could get our lives back on track again.
We found a lawyer and started the process in the spring. Sometime over the summer Dianna and I talked about us coming down to Texas for Thanksgiving and Matt and I couldn’t have been more excited. I was finally going to see my friend and she was just going to have to deal with the fact that I was going to hug her until she lost circulation. I was painting over the summer, making good money, Matt was back in the saddle again as a Senior level Processor and we were actually managing like adults for the first time in years.
Then we had our 341 meeting and our lawyer advised us that we should not only have little to nothing in the bank until the discharge was complete, but that we also shouldn’t go out and spend the money on anything extravagant or extraneous.
Like $1600 vacations to Texas.
My heart sank.
I was conflicted because on the one hand I couldn’t believe I had to tell my friend that I wasn’t going to be able to see her until after the holidays but on the other my financial life was going to finally be in the best shape it had been in for almost seven years. Dianna understood and I was happy about that but I was still sad to watch another year go by without getting to spend any time together.
Then last week I got an email from her that she was moving back home.
Apparently things in her relationship were not going right and after all else was said and done she was just tired of living in the south. She was already talking to her dad to see if it would be possible to settle into the apartment he has above his garage for a bit and because her job is portable she will likely be working from home but still based out of the location in Texas. I was blown away, it was nothing I ever expected to happen, not in a million years.
Who knows how long we’ll have to be in the same geographic region this time around, who knows which one of us will be the one to move first, but I fully intend to make the most of our time together this time around. And I fully intend to jump up and down, clapping and squealing as soon as she gets back here and I’m going to bet she joins in. Seriously.