I can remember two Noels from my childhood. One was a couple of years older than me and hated me, while the other was in the same grade as me and we were friends. At this moment, just like when I was 8 years old, I haven't a clue why the older Noel hated me. Of course she lives in infamy because of her role in one of the more embarrassing moments of my childhood.
My dad heard about the discourse between Miss Noel and I, and promptly walked me down the street to confront her. All the way to her house I remember thinking that it was an absolutely terrible idea to be marching up to her doorway. What were we going to say? What could we possibly have expected to find? Or better yet, who would we find? I had visions of Noel's dad answering the door as this big biker dude named Frank - a wardrobe made entirely of denim, leather and metal. Oddly enough, I pictured him with hair the color of Just For Men 'Real Black', a beard down to his navel, and an enormous gut peeking out from behind the 'barely there' version of a hell's angel leather vest and over a pair of black leather chaps....no fringe. Of course I was wrong, Frank turned out to be Brenda and instead of a beard down to her navel, she had a chain connecting her left nostril to her navel and a set of keys on her belt buckle. The real kicker, she answered the door with plastic wrap around her head and in her hand she carried an empty box of Just For Men 'Jet Black'.
Noel lived 8 houses down from us, and it took 7 before I had formulated my escape plan. I was going to hang back a few paces behind my dad so that when "Frank" picked him up to throw him off his front porch, I could get a head start on the mad dash back to our house. I didn't want to be the lone man left behind on this mission. As we made our way to Noel's house I could barely keep up with my dad's long strides. And by the time we hit houses 4 and 5, he had run through the complete list of why the conversation was going to change my life. We were rational people, as were Noel and her family. We were going to hash it out. We were going to get to dealing with whatever issue(s) Noel and I had between us. This was going to be an opportunity for me to grow as a person. My Dad's plan was that in the end we were going to be friends or agree to disagree. He was right. We had a brief conversation during which neither Noel nor I could explain the issue between us and Noel and I became acquaintances for the next 9 months until she moved to a different neighborhood. We never had another disagreement. As far as I was concerned, she might as well have moved to another planet. I never saw nor heard from her again.
The other Noel was someone I hung out with. We both loved horses and spent a lot of our 'free time' riding up and down the beaches and dunes of our small coastal town. We never had a fight, and to be honest with you, I was one of the only people who spoke to her. Her dad raised her and her younger sister by himself, leaving them with a lot of freedom. I think other kids thought that she had this annoying sounding voice along with an equally annoying personality, so they made fun of her. It was best described as the voice you hear through the speaker of a drive-thru. Kind of nasally; kind of high-pitched; all the while trying to sound cool as hell. I liked Noel, and probably more so because no one else did. I wonder what ever happened to her. Hmm...
I'm digging through this box and I come across a journal from 1982. In it I find an entry dated November 23, 1982. The topic: What are my plans for Thanksgiving. Here's what I write:
"Well first we are going to cook the turkey and a whole bunch of other stuff that we have for Thanksgiving. Then we will eat and talk and then we all will gather round and talk a lot."
- hmmm....OKAY -
This was followed by an entry dated December 7, 1982. The topic: In Ten Years I would like to be... Here's what I write: "A beautician because I think I can fix up hair pretty good. Also I would like to put on peoples make-up because it is what I think is fun and fulfilling."
There's not much more to add at this point. I'm feeling a little reflective at this time.
Bahamas, June 2006 5 minutes after arriving at our Hotel. Shot from our balcony.