Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sibling Assignment #121: Emotional Ties with Jane Eischen at Planet Thai

Silver Valley Girl stayed with February's NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) theme of "ties" and gave us this prompt:

Write about seeing someone after a long time, and how the emotional ties you had with each other contributed to your experience of being with that person again.

I'll post my sisters' links once they've posted their writing.

On Friday, February 12, I met Jane Eischen, now Hansen, for lunch in Vancouver, WA at Planet Thai on NE Tenney Rd.

We last saw each other during the summer of 1974 at the Wallace Elks at the reception when Rob and Sluggo got married.

We'd had some very good chats on Facebook over the last few months, but there's nothing like seeing a friend from the deep past face to face.

And so it was on February 12.

It didn't take us long, at all, to get right to the emotional ties that we have had with each other and that have remained deep and powerful, despite our absence from one another.

I spent most of my time during spring semester of my freshman year at North Idaho College with Bruce Alldredge, a fellow Silver Valley guy.

Bruce was like a galactical star of fun, intelligence, quick wit, irreverence, generosity, good-heartedness, and strong passions. A small solar system of people began to orbit around him at North Idaho College and we had a ton of fun drinking, sometimes studying, smoking cigs, going out on the town, listening to music, reading National Lampoon, reading poetry, mocking Richard Nixon, watching NBA playoff games, and becoming really good friends.

Jane loved this solar system, but, above all, she loved Bruce and the two of them were involved as friends sometimes and lovers that covered a time span I can't keep straight. But whether they were "on" or "off", Jane always loved Bruce, and was at the mercy of his mercurial ways when it came to love and romance.

In 1989, Bruce was killed in a motorcycle accident. I hadn't seen him for over ten years, but Jane had seen him more recently.

Bruce's life and death has kept Jane and me tied together even in our long absence from each other. More than merely shared experience with him, the fact that we both loved Bruce deeply created an immediate trust between us. I got Bruce. I understood and enjoyed him immensely. Jane got Bruce. She understood and enjoyed him immensely. It's almost as if in loving Bruce we loved each other, too.

This deep trust between me and Jane took form most memorably when we were on choir tour at North Idaho College. We had long bus rides as we made our way from Cd'A to The Dalles to the Oregon coast, all the way to San Francisco and back through Corvallis and Oregon City and on back to Cd'A.

During one of the long stretches, Jane sat next to me. I don't remember how the subject came up, but Jane told me that she had become pregnant in high school, been briefly married, and had lost her baby to adoption.

Even as a nineteen year old, I knew it was risky for Jane to confide in me about this chapter in her life. I listened, without a trace of judgment, and certainly with none of the outrage that some of the other choir members, who were righteously Christian, might have felt.

Our bond, I know now, deepened with that conversation. Jane had invited me to share a secret, and the secret, lo and behold, had a strong Silver Valley dimension. The baby's father was a Kellogg High School student, Class of '70. Jane thought I might know him. I didn't really. I only knew he had gotten a girl from somewhere pregnant. I was staggered when Jane confided that she was the mother of L.F.'s baby.

Why did Jane trust me with her secret? How did she know I wouldn't think badly of her? That I wouldn't spread her secret around the choir? She knew I was a Christian. How did she know that my way of understanding what it means to live as a Christian made acceptance automatic and sealed lips honorable?

Whatever the reason was, it formed an emotional tie between us that was deep and alive at lunch, as we slowly picked over green curry and drunken noodles.

There's one more emotional connection between us.


Liz was my girlfriend in the spring of '73 and a happy planet in the Bruce Alldredge solar system.

Jane and I both experienced Liz as one of the most fully alive persons we had ever known, full of wit, love, creative profanity, and great barbs. She was generous in spirit, full of love, hard working, and lovely. She was a really good working class Catholic girl.

Jane experienced this and so did I. I was stupid for ever behaving in ways that led to Liz calling our relationship off. I was really stupid.

So in loving Liz, Jane and I were loving each other, too. We got Liz. We understood her. What Liz and Jane loved in each other and what Liz and I loved in each other was what Jane and I love in each other.

It's not true, to me, that the past is over and disappears. You'll never hear me say anything like, "Well that's history. That's over with. You can forget about that. It's in the past now."

It's not how time works.

Over our lunch, Jane and I were locked into the five hour present moment of our lunch together.

Our focus and enjoyment and eagerness to learn more about each other happened because of the past, the past with choir, Bruce, Liz, the choir tour; the past at Cockroach Castle, where Bruce and Rob and Sluggo lived, the past in the Purple Pig, the van Bruce drove, the past over at Jane and Peggy's house, and so much else that was emotionally alive.

And that Jane and I were tied to.

And remain tied to today.

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