Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores
Photographer Patricia Gulick

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

5-24-13 RMB Liz Benjamins

5-24-13 RMB Liz Benjamins 
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
The uneasiness that morphed into a gasp is still there. I know there is change afoot. So here is my chance to change fate to free will, right?
That I don’t like change us an understatement. Yet, I can not affect fate in such a way that life will stay the same. Its essence is an evolution of life, of lives. I don’t know what this change will be. Can I affect fate enough to direct my own life towards my preferred course?  Perhaps. I feel these letters are steps along that path.
I will know soon what this shift that haunts me is and I will accept the change that will undoubtedly tear at my heart. Change always does, no matter how brave I try to be. Wuss.

One friend is busy discovering the law of attraction. I am encouraging her. A childhood friend she has tried to reach for years called her out of the blue the other day. Soon afterwards a coworker from years past that she was trying to reach, happened to be eating at the same restaurant one evening.
So, buoyed by her stories, I will toss this out there: I would like to reconnect with Liz, Elizabeth Benjamins to be precise. She was my older sister’s Mount Miguel High School chum.
My “adult” sister is a few years older than I and, being the smart lassie that she was, she had skipped a grade. I think Liz was in a grade above her. To my eleven year old self, Liz was an adult with the heart of a kid.
When Liz visited my sister, she often peeked into my room to harass me. She would steal an object from my room or I would start it by throwing something at her and play catch until one of us would run. We would end up chasing each other through the house for some precious treasure, a stuffed animal or something of equal value. We laughed and giggled.
She was taller, more agile and faster. I took it as a challenge just to see how long I could make her chase me or, if I was the chaser, how close could I come to catching her. My goal was never to overpower her, simply to hold my own and see how hard I could make her work to “win” the prize
Later, when my sister’s attention was taken elsewhere, mainly by her future husband, Liz would visit me. I felt as though she knew my struggles. Did she have the same ones? I don’t know. I didn’t pry. Our conversations only skimmed the surface. I already knew I was different in the mystical way, was already feeling too much pressure. At the time we probably chalked it up to maturing, but we no longer chased each other. Looking back now I see I was receding into my troubles, getting more solemn with each passing year. 
After reading these letters, someone thought Liz might have been my first girlfriend. I may have had a crush on her, but if I did, I didn’t know it at the time. However, when I met my first girlfriend, I recall thinking ‘she reminds me of Liz’. Funny how life makes more sense in retrospect. Of course, for all I know, this line of thought may offend Liz. I recall she was religious and took me to her church for Easter service once. I remember we chatted about boyfriends, never about girlfriends. Perhaps I should delete this paragraph before this is posted…hmm.

In my early teens she would pick me up in her car and drive a half hour or so to the La Jolla Shores Beach, a long way from home to a fourteen year old. I was never comfortable in a bathing suit, even when I had the body for one. I wore cutoffs and t-shirts, walked along the beach and picked up seashells. Liz would either go swimming or walk with me.
On one of her visits, she brought me a big picture of the beach framed in wood with glass over the photo. It looked like La Jolla Shores. I treasured it. Then she moved to northern California. We lost touch.
In 1992 somehow I reached her. I think I called her family still in town and they gave me her phone number. She was living in Northern California, San Jose maybe. There was a large earthquake and I wanted to check on her.
She was okay. Her home was fine, but she was assisting others affected, taking them food and other necessities while they were displaced from their homes. That sounded like something she would do. We promised to stay in touch. We didn’t.
I’ve tried finding her via the internet, so far no luck. But then I’ve never had a blog before. Very few people have given life to the laughter inside of me as she did. For that, for caring, for reaching out to another when it was sorely needed, she is among my heroes.
When I sunk to my depths at seventeen, I was glad she was not around to see it. Even in that state, I knew my life was my own cross to bear. There was nothing another person could have done. I needed to find the way out myself.
Decades have passed, but I can still see her face and hear her voice. When I do, I recall the person she brought out in me, the one that could laugh and play at the drop of a hat, or rather a stuffed bear.
I will try finding her with my mystical musings. That ought to make for a fun exercise. Stay tuned to find out if we reconnect and how.
As always, thanks for listening,

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