Wednesday, January 15, 2014

And Then It Happened Again

As soon as we had our first baby, it seems as if old friends suddenly came pouring in out of nowhere. To be honest, the falling out of touch was probably primarily my fault. There was a period of several years there in which I was terribly sick. All I wanted to do was lay around in bed and pretend the world didn't exist. Once we got my health under control, babies happened.

The situation I described in my previous post happened not just once, but twice. The circumstances this time around were a little different, but it still remains a completely unplanned event. These are the reasons I feel that there must be some kind of cosmic connection between us, even if I don't like calling it "God" and putting all my money on a single piece of classic literature being "the absolute truth." I'd sooner put my faith in the works of Tolkien. At least his history is more than a single volume long, and much easier to read.

Anyway! Let's talk about Ben and Sarah.

This is how I will always remember Ben. Freshly graduated from high school. Parked in my driveway in the driver's seat of his Aerostar minivan named Ivanzypher. (No really. He spelled it out on the bumper with stick-on letters.) Flipping me the bird while I took his picture shortly before a small group of us piled in to head up to Cedar Point. One last hurrah to celebrate our freedom from formal schooling, onward into the drudgery of adulthood.

Benji was a transfer student to our high school in, I think, our Junior year. He was The New Guy. Everybody wanted to be his friend. All the girls wanted to date him. Except me. I think perhaps that's why he and I became such good friends. I was the only one girl out of hundreds who wasn't prone to lapsing into a drooling catatonic state every time he wandered down the hall, with little heart bubbles floating around my head and punching me in the face. I was much more likely to have my nose buried in a book, ignoring all the gossipy buzz going on around me, because I really wasn't the least bit interested in dating.

Everybody in the school was talking about him. I do remember being vaguely aware of that. But when he sat down in front of me in Algebra II, I had no idea who he was and didn't care. Though I do think I remember blinking owlishly, as if I had just surfaced from a deep sea dive, drowning under the oppressive weight of a dozen jealous glances, and saying, blandly, "Oh. You're that new guy. Hi." There may have been a "Hi, I'm Stacey." and "Hi, I'm Ben." I don't even remember. I do know, however, that practically every class we had together, we sat together, one behind the other, and ignored lectures in favor of passing a piece of paper back and forth to hold written conversation on.

Ridiculous shit like this.
Most of the conversations I remember having with Ben involved him asking me what I thought of some girl, me telling him not to date her, him essentially saying "Screw you! I do what I want!," proceeding to date said girl anyway, and then coming back to me a few weeks later to tell me, "You were right." Everybody always asked me for my advice. I don't know why I bothered giving it, because my warnings were never heeded anyway. But I'm digressing again. Bad habit of mine.

Moving on!

So after high school, Ben got me a job at his place of employment: Cinemark Movies 4. It was the cheap-o dollar theater in the Canton area, at the time. The building it's in now has been overrun by some kind of medical company. I feel like I'm in a foreign land every time I drive by. Good times, though. Working for the movie theater was one of my favorite jobs of all time. I miss those days.

Ben worked in the arcade when it was still there. I worked concession with Sarah, his now wife. I had no idea they had even been dating back then! I left Cinemark to work for Sam's Club, quit there and went back to the movie theater, and during all that time I was clueless! I quit that job again, years went by, and suddenly he brought her to my wedding! I wish I had taken the time to get to know her more back then, because I absolutely love her now and can't at all recall having much of any thought about her whatsoever over a decade ago other than her being "that girl I worked with sometimes." Sorry, Sarah!

Best photo bomb ever.
Fast forward to after Lilah was born, and after Addison was born too. I guess during all the time that I neglected contact with my old friends, Ben and Matt had stayed in touch. Now that Matt and I have common ground again -- daughters of the same age -- we've been slowly repairing our relationship, though amusingly I seem to be better friends now with his wife. Weird how things happen. Such as Ben and I seemingly forgetting that seven years of no-contact had even happened. We picked up our friendship right where we left off. The only thing that's changed is that we have kids now.

Ben and Sarah got married on April 30, 2011. Lilah was just shy of seven months old. It's a day I'll never forget for very selfish reasons, because that's the day Your Future Overlord started crawling, too. My brother Mike had babysat her while we attended the ceremony up the hill. When we went home to get her before heading to the reception, he claims he saw her crawl while we were away. The first time I saw it happen was at the reception, in the middle of some kind of speech. I was so excited I kept flailing my arms to get Ben's attention to point down at her and mouth "LOOK SHE'S CRAWLING!!!"

Exhausted baby steals Mommy's shrug after reception.
I wish we could have stayed to attend the reception into the wee hours of the morning, but at the time I didn't regret using the baby excuse to leave early. She was exhausted. I was socialized out. I may regret now having missed out on celebrating my good friend's nuptials, a little, but could you have said no to that adorable face up there who just wanted to get home to sleep? That's what I thought.

On the first of the following year at Matt & Stacy's house, for what has become the traditional pork and sauerkraut dinner party, we all got together again. Our girls were both a year old and learning to play together in adorable ways. I remember sitting on the couch with Ben & Sarah teasing them about how they needed to plan to have their first kid in 2013, because that's when Jamie and I were talking about having our second, so that we could have kids the same age who could play together too. I was joking, but I think they took me seriously about a baby-making deadline!

Jamie and I did work on making baby #2 happen during that time, though. We wanted our kids to be close in age so they could play together and possibly be best friends. What we didn't know, however, was that Ben and Sarah had been working on making theirs happen too! Until I saw a photo of an ultrasound posted on Sarah's Facebook wall back in June of 2012. This prompted the following exchange via FB message:

A couple days later, this conversation went on between Ben & I:

Though the doctors proclaimed that Sarah and I were due within weeks of each other, Fate had other ideas in mind. There were some complications that forced young masters Oliver and Desmond to arrive a full 58 days earlier than expected. They were such tiny little things, kept in the NICU for less time than I imagine it felt like. I remember them sounding like little mewling kittens when they cried. Together they didn't even weigh quite as much as the monster that came out of me over two and a half months later. A week after she was born, they all came to visit.

Amelia sandwiched between the twins.
Ben likes to joke that he's going to steal my daughter when I'm not looking, and offers to trade us for one of his boys. It's funny because I was really hoping for a boy the second time around, even though every ultrasound said otherwise. Ben had been hoping for a girl in the pair, but got two boys instead. I think we're going to be keeping our little Usurper, though. Sorry, Ben. ;)

August 24, 2013
Maybe we should be talking betrothal, though...

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