Honesty

Uncle Chuck

Oh I’m hungover. Why do I do this to myself? I don’t know how everyone else went to work today. I wake up to my phone buzzing. Lauren Stever has my gift bag. Good, because I thought I left it at RiverWinds. Ten minutes later it’s buzzing again. Another text from Lauren. “I can’t find my camera!!” Ugh, I don’t care. Actually, I vaguely remember us finding it at Schileens. I text her back. I think one of us got it. I don’t bother getting up to look. I can’t move. “Oh good, I just texted Michele so hopefully she got it.” Ten minutes later. “Michele thinks you got it so please check!!” Another two exclamation points. I guess that means it’s REALLY important that I look right now. I hate you, Lauren. I get up. I guess I should, anyway. It’s in my purse. Laur’s relieved. “Yay!! Yes! Want to take a walk down to my house??” I’m so hungover. “Ha me too, but I’ve already mowed the backyard now getting ready to mow the front.” Wow. “I’m just too excited to be hungover. Hangovers are for pussies hahaha. The fresh air will do you good!! I’m telling you!” I don’t respond to this last one. It’s just too much to handle right now.

I park myself in the living room and talk to Mom about last night, with intermittent comments of, “My head hurts” and “Why did I get so drunk?” Online I see that Doug did NOT go to work. He’s unbelievable. Finally, I pour myself a cup of coffee and try to snap out of it. Sit on the front porch because it’s so nice out. It’s ridiculously nice out. Nice in New Jersey is very different from nice in California. There’s a lot more smells here. Dirt, grass, mulch, bugs. I don’t know. I don’t think you can smell bugs but it’s like I smell everything here. California just is. I smell the beach, definitely. I haven’t really noticed another smell.

OK, I’m ready to start this day. I finally walk over to Lauren’s – she’s only a few blocks away. I haven’t walked around my neighborhood for a long time. It’s making me nostalgic. I take a slight detour to walk by Kelly’s house, just because. Lauren is in cleaning mode when I get there, but I think my presence makes her want to do nothing. We take a ride over to the florist – she has to make the last payment on her flowers. The ladies in the shop are excitedly asking Lauren if she’s ready and if she’s excited, as if she’ll say anything other than yes. We get in the car and are both starving for lunch. I’m never just hungry. It’s always starving. She calls Jordan and asks if he wants anything, and he tells her he picked up some pizza. Yes. Pizza. In Jersey. I have definitely been missing good pizza on the west coast. Jordan isn’t there when we get back, so we wait, and wait. It’s really not that long, but it feels like it.

Jordan walks in. Hi Jordan! Pizza time. From Randazzo’s in Pitman. I don’t think I’ve ever had it, but the sausage, peppers, and onions is so good. Jordan was just at the tuxedo place and they didn’t have the right shoes he ordered. Then he feels like the lady doesn’t like his shoes, and he’s second guessing his choice. I thought this wedding stuff was supposed to be fun. After eating all I want to do is sleep. I thought I’d walk home, but it seems so far away right now. Lauren doesn’t mind dropping me off, thankfully, and I pass out for a while.

Pop-pop, Chazzy, Uncle Chuck 1997 (ish?)

Later, I meet some of the girls at the nail salon. Megan brought champagne and I can’t get through a glass of it. Not ready yet. I go with bright orange for my toes and clear for my fingers. I have to hurry home because Lyndsey is picking me up. Walk in the door and Christine is sitting in the living room. With Uncle Chuck! Hi! He didn’t even know I was home so I’m glad he randomly stopped by. My cousin Chaz has wrestling practice at Clearview so Uncle Chuck had an hour to kill. Mom and Dad are actually not home, which isn’t normal, but they drove Courtney down to the Atlantic City airport because she’s flying to Florida tonight.

Christine has to leave for a high school basketball banquet. I change really quick and feel bad when Lyndsey comes that I have to leave. Uncle Chuck tells me to go, it’s fine. It’s already almost 8 and Lyndsey has to drive me back home tonight and I’m sure she has work tomorrow so I don’t want to make her stay out late. She’s quick to open her mouth. “We can stay for a drink, I don’t care.” Really? Awesome. Gin and tonics all around! I haven’t had a gin and tonic in a while. Lyndsey and I used to drink them all the time.

I always feel the need to explain Lyndsey to people before they meet her, but I don’t have the chance to tell Uncle Chuck. It’s fine; her bluntness and honesty don’t seem to phase him too much. Mom and Dad walk in a little after 8 and I’m glad Uncle Chuck didn’t miss them completely. Lyndsey and I say our goodbyes but Mom can’t help but make me and Uncle Chuck take a picture together – she acts like I’m never going to see anyone ever again. As we walk out to the car Lyndsey is definitely a little upset with my Dad. She loves my Dad, and he didn’t even really say hi as soon as he walked in the door (he was probably preoccupied with Uncle Chuck). She tells my mom, in so many words. “No offense Mrs. Stetson, I’m happy to see you, but I was really excited to see Chuck.” Mom just laughs. She should not be surprised by anything Lyndsey says by now.

Lyndsey's apartment in Philly

We get in Lyndsey’s car and I don’t even realize it’s not her car. I also don’t realize it’s a BMW. I’ve never been good with noticing things like that. But no worries, Lyn is sure to tell me. It’s owned by a guy she is ‘seeing’. Not her boyfriend, of course. She always waves off whoever she’s seeing like it’s temporary. It usually is. Lyndsey is living in a studio apartment in Society Hill and it’s sick. Her studio is nothing like mine. It’s big, for starters, and up on the 30th floor she has a ridiculous view of Philly. I guess Tiffany’s is treating her well.

After the tour, we walk around Philly, looking for a place to eat. She decides on Bridget Foy’s, a local bar. Looks good to me. I love Philly bars. I love that they have good beer on draft (even though I’ll be drinking wine). On the way over, Lyn talks to me about my blog. She loves it, which is saying a lot since she hates reading. She thinks I should turn it into a book. Lyn, there’s no story. There’s no beginning, middle, and end. Do you know how many people have written books like this? There’s nothing dramatic about it. There’s definitely nothing that sets it apart. Lyndsey is quick to correct me. “It doesn’t matter. Maybe you’ll eventually have a baby and we’ll be like, oh, she had a baby, that’s nice.” I laugh but see her point. “Or maybe you’ll get a good acting job and become famous.” Now there’s the dream. Although, if that happened the last thing I’d think about is writing a book.

Amber and Lyndsey (2002?)

Once we get to the bar and talk about other things, Lyndsey finally gives it to me straight. She’s already given me all the compliments, so now she wants to get down to it. “Listen, sometimes, I can tell something else happened and you don’t want to write about it. Sometimes you’re too nice.” She actually refers to a specific blog and I remember clearly that I wasn’t completely honest in that blog. I tell her. Yes. I got in a fight with Mike and I was pissed off at Troy. Is it that obvious? “And you definitely were way too nice in the blog you wrote about me.”  She has much more to say. “Sometimes, it’s…boring. Like you’re trying to be a writer.” If anyone else said this to me I don’t know how I’d take it, but when Lyndsey says it I just smile. She will always be real with me no matter what. And I with her. Like when she asks me if she’ll be in my wedding (some day) I don’t need to hesitate when I tell her no. We’re just honest with each other.

I agree with you. But I mean, I did take writing classes, so yea, sometimes I describe things too much or talk about things that probably aren’t as interesting as what’s REALLY going on. Some stuff isn’t mine to say, though. I don’t want to offend people. “We don’t care, it’s your opinion.” YOU don’t care, Lynds. “You should write a separate blog of everything you’re really thinking, so then when you write a book you’ll include all the other stuff.” It’s definitely an idea. An idea that makes me nervous, but Lyndsey does make me realize that I can be more honest in my writing. “You can write whatever you want about me. I’m an open book.”

OK, Lyndsey, I’ll start now. Whenever Lyndsey and I talk about getting together, I can’t help but think about how I look when I see her. She’s always had body image issues and is obsessed with being thin, and I feel like she judges me because I’m not skinny. She probably doesn’t really care, but I know she thinks it, even if for a second. When I got in the car, she told me I looked skinny. She is such a bad liar. I just say her name. Lyn. “Well your legs look skinny.” I mean, I have my own issues and hang-ups, but Lyndsey takes it to a whole other level. Sometimes I really worry about her, but I know she’s happy, or at least she seems happy now, for the most part. And because she’s like that, and so open and honest with me about that kind of stuff, she’s one of the few people I can really talk to sometimes. She’s blunt and harsh, but she’s there for me. (I know Lynds, this is still too vague. Baby steps.)

*Billy Joel

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