I learned last week that my best friend senior year of high school, Rachel Plosser LeDuc, passed away in September. How did I find out? Well, every once in awhile I Google my name, my kids names, and the names of friends that I've lost touch with. All I could find were links to her obituary. I paid the $2 and read it, hoping to find details that would prove it wasn't my friend. The photo erased those hopes. I didn't learn much more than that she was survived by her husband, son, mom and brother. (At least it gave me a lead on her brother. Maybe I'll get the nerve up to send him an email.) What seems to be eating me up is that it doesn't say what happened. Was she in a car accident? Was she ill? I have no right to these answers, but the questions haunt me.
It bothers me that I couldn't find hide nor hair of her until this. So, for our other classmates and her other friends, I'm posting the wonderful things that I remember about her so that she will be more than just an obituary on the web. Maybe that's weird, but I feel a need to do it.
The first thing that I remember about our senior year was the "Class of '83 Hymn" that Rachel wrote. I don't know why, but it had been on my mind before I Googled her name. She would tell people that we co-wrote it, but all I did was clean up the meter in 1 line. I think I was more like an editor if anything at all. I will take the credit for being the one to memorize it though. I don't think she liked it as much as I did. Here it is in all its glory:
Disco sucks not rock and roll,
All the punks are out of control.
Ralph Lauren and 501's
Sexy girls and guys with buns.
'69 and '83
Our minds are sex-filled, you and me.
Scamming, swooping, picking up,
Some get pregnant in pick-up trucks.
We'll be remembered, wait and see,
We're the way-rad Class of '83!
[Her original line that I cleaned up was "Some get pregnant in the back of pick-up trucks." And the reference to '69 was because we both drove cars made in that year, don't be nasty.]
I still eat ranch dressing on turkey sandwiches sometimes. She showed me that with Thanksgiving leftovers.
Thinking about Thanksgiving leads me to think about the trip to take her ex-boyfriend down to L.A. on Thanksgiving weekend. I had permission to go with her so that she wouldn't have to drive back alone. I didn't have permission to take my 17-year-old self to Tijuana with them. But I couldn't very well stay at his friends' house in Apple Valley without them, could I? It was an interesting few hours. All we did was walk around some and then get back in line to come back across the border. Crossing back was when I realized that at 17 I shouldn't have crossed over in the first place. They looked us over in a growling kind of way and let us in. Frankly, I think we spent more time in line than we did there. But I can say I've been there.
One day we went out to a local ice skating rink. It was probably during Christmas break since it was definitely winter -- a very cold and rainy day. When we got in her car to go home we found that her wipers didn't work. So we tied on some fishing line and opened up the wing windows (this was a VW Beetle) and I would pull right then she would pull left. It worked well enough to get us home, but it was cold with the wings open and our hands were really sore from the fishing line.
We had ROTC freshman boys that we would take off-campus for lunch. We felt so powerful because we were seniors and those boys were so impressed with us. We also had a closed-campus school, but the security guard knew us both (I was in choir and Rachel in student government) and would just wave to us as we drove off. I don't know if he ever checked, but we did always come back for afternoon classes.
With our friend Ian we would go to a kind-of private poetry workshop that we had set up with a poet (C.B. Davis) that had come to a 6-week program in our sophomore English class. I remember shutting my hand in Ian's car door and I remember a field trip to the Fuller Paint poles. I remember walking single-file behind C.B. on a hot day as he read us Pablo Neruda's "Ode to the Watermelon" and led us around the old Fire Chief's house, ending at the refrigerator where he had a cold juicy watermelon waiting for us. But I don't remember a single thing that any of us wrote. I think it was more of letting C.B. inspire us and pontificate (but in a good way) at us, than workshopping our poems. I don't think I would have had the guts to do it without Rachel.
Those are some good things that came to mind. There are some more, and they are good memories too, but more about me than her. In a very real way Rachel helped me find myself that year. I wouldn't be who I am without all the things I did with her. I'm really sorry that I lost touch with her. If I find that she went to the reunions that I've skipped I'll probably beat myself up about it, but she wasn't at the one that I did go to. I miss her and now I can't tell her. So here is one of my attempts at sending that message out to the universe. I hope she gets the message.
I received an email this morning (23 Dec 2007) letting me know that Rachel died of a brain tumor. The person who contacted me said I could ask questions, but I'm not sure what to ask. However, if one of our classmates finds this, I wanted the new information and the idea of a source here for them to find as well.