Sunday, March 22, 2009

Reconnections continued

Facebook is not just for the young. I have joined the cultish following and initially just communicated with nieces and nephews then more family and then friends and now it has become this amazing tool to find long lost friends.

Among them I found (or maybe she found me) Tami. We went to school together at WKU. We both were in the theater department and were backstage more than onstage.
Tami it seemed actually had a major in something else, probably practical and started out as a theater groupie but became a vital part of our little department.

I have only good memories of her, which is rare I think for most people. All of us remember an argument or a bad time, but when I think of Tami all I remember is fun and good times...

Tami was known as "Space" back then, I don't exactly remember why except she had a high energy level and was a bit ditzy. She was fun though and very lovable. I absolutely could not remain in a bad mood while with her.

Tami was loyal and hardworking. Back then I was one of the scene shop crew. Not only did I design lights for lots of shows, but I was one of three students responsible for running the scene shop, executing and building scenery, rounding up students to volunteer, making sure deadlines were met and shows opened. I remember countless late nights w/ Tami at my side, doing anything and everything to help. It was one of these nights she saved my life. Literally.
I don't know if she even remembers the night or if I ever even told her or said thanks...

At one point in my college career I had a stalker. Some guy started calling me and breathing on my dorm phone. It soon progressed to him telling me he liked my outfit he saw me wearing. He would then describe what I had worn, where I had been. It got creepy but in my naive mind I figured he was a harmless kook.

Then late one night over spring break I think, Tami had stayed behind to help me paint scenery or hang lights or something else until the wee late hours. Being exhausted we decided to crash in my dorm room since my roommate had gone home and it was closer to the theater than her apartment. I drove us there and decided since it was the weekend and campus was deserted to park in the dorm lot mainly used for short term (i.e. 30 minute) parking. We parked, staggered in and fell face down on the twin beds. Just as I was drifting off to sleep, the phone rang. I answered and it was Campus Police telling me to move my car as it was illegally parked. I tried to reason with him that it was 4 am on a holiday weekend, the lot was empty except for my car and couldn't I just leave it until morning? But no the cop was insistent, move it or it would be towed, and I would be fined $200. I woke Tami to say I had to move my car. I started out the door, and she stopped me. "Wait" she said, "Its late and dark, I'll go with you." And together we went out to the empty dark lot where the cop had already left and we moved my car to the street and walked back through the poorly lit quad to the dorm.
The next day we both packed up and headed home for the short break. The more I thought about the incident the more angry I became. Why had the stupid cop made me move my car? It made no sense. When I returned to campus I went straight to the police department office to complain. There was no record of such a call. The campus police started questioning me. What was the officer's name? Well, he didn't give it. What exactly did he say? He said he was campus police. Wrong! They always identify themselves by Officer So and So, Campus SECURITY. They asked if I had any unusual phone calls lately. Well, yeah some kook calling almost daily...
Seems there was a stalker focusing on women in the theater/dance department. There had already been one rape and a couple of thwarted rape attempts. They were trying to find the guy but had been unsuccessful. They were afraid he would escalate and get violent. For the rest of the semester I had to be escorted after dark. Either by security or by a trusted approved male in the department. I also couldn't talk about it in case the person was in the theater department...
Tami you probably saved me from some horrible fate that night. By deciding to forgo your comfort and sleep and stagger out once more into the dark and cold you prevented God knows what happening to me. For that alone I will forever love you and be grateful. How can I ever repay that debt?

I owe this woman so much. Her steadfast friendship, working beside me, never complaining, always helpful and eager, bringing me joy and laughter was just the tip of the iceberg. But to have intervened at such a crucial time, even unwittingly, shows me that God put her in my life for a reason. By helping me at that time, Tami is now helping every single kid I help. By being with me in the dark, by walking by my side in the darkest night, I can walk by others during theirs. And because of her love and friendship, I can show others what that looks like.
Tami brought healing to the earth.

It is so true, we never know how much our life touches others... but sometimes we get a glimpse. I hope Tami knows that her life has and is still touching so many others. That her light is shining like a beacon. Maybe that is why her nickname was Space, because her influence could not be contained by earthly limits, her love, light and hope is so all encompassing, her heart so huge, that any other nickname would have been too small...


Alykat said...

Wow! What a scary story, but also such a lovely story of friendship.

oaklandcoaster said...

My Dearest Martha,
I am in awe of this story. I so deeply appreciate your thoughts, but for me, everything I did with you was an appreciated privilege. My only regret is a vague memory that I probably acted insensitively in some ways about that situation.

You're right- I was a "Exceptional Child Education" major- with a lack of focus. I thank God for that lack of focus, and for my connection with Tim, who was my initial connection to you, Tom Y. and many other people, some of whom became the nearest and dearest friends I've ever had- and most certainly you among them.

I appreciate your thoughts and feelings, but you owe me nothing, in any way. Your friendship is worth more than you can imagine.

I love you, Martha, and I thank you for being my friend as well. It is so very good to be in touch with you again. You are an amazing person.

oaklandcoaster said...

Oh, and ditzy...YES. Do you remember when I was working on a set and hammered double-headed nails in all the way??? (Just keep in mind I had never had a set-building class in my life- how was I to know what that extra head was for??...Duhhhhhh......???)

timmyB said...

Wow! What a story. I'm riveted. Thanks for sharing.

I hope that creepoid was caught and put away before he caused anymore terror.

And FB is definitely awesome for reconnecting.

There are no small decisions or unimportant acts in life. I'm convinced. One minor choice during your day could affect the whole rest of your life and many others' lives. If I had not chosen to stop in the green room that day at SIU and noticed an application for a theater internship in San Francisco I might never have wound up here and now in this situation. If Norio's friend had not urged him to go out that night in April 1994 we would have never met. Deconstructing your life backwards can be scary if you think of the consequences of each small step along the way.

And I agree: Tami is a life-saver for many people, me included. She has rescued me emotionally on many occasions. And no one else on the Earth can make me laugh so hard I can't breathe. Oh, the stories.

Hugs to all