2011 has started with a big slap to my face.
Besides the usual financial and car trouble I usually have this past weekend I was shocked to find out an old (very old) friend of mine died. Her name was Lisa. To write a small tribute doesn’t do her justice. She was vivacious, loud, positive, aggressive, and sometimes (with love) violent. She loved to bite the ones she loved (a trait I picked up from her), and we all took her love willingly. I was in shock when I first heard the news while I was at home. I didn’t want to believe what they were telling me, and I was in denial for a while until I got a second phone call from another friend confirming the news. I won’t go in to details about her death since it is still very painful for all of us to discuss it, and we want to respect the families wishes and not fuel the flames of idle gossip.
I met Lisa while I was in college at CSULB. I had already been working at my college newspaper, and some mutual friends wanted to check out the new Anime Club on campus. I was a bit nervous at first, because I secretly didn’t want to be outed as an Otaku. Then my friends told me it was tons of fun and I should come with them, just once, and see how I liked it. On my first visit to Anime Club I met a group of friends, now dubbed the LB Crew. From that first day onward all of us were inseparable. We did everything together. We had lunch, went shopping, went to the movies, watched anime, played video games, you name it we did, together!
We spent so much time together we all memorized each others school schedules so we knew who was available for lunch dates or movie outings. Our friend Ryan was the only one of us who didn’t live at home at the time and had an apartment in Long Beach not too far from campus. Thus began the LB Crews unofficial home base. Didn’t matter if Ryan was working or in school, we were at his home. Cooking, cleaning, planning, and having fun. We had marathons of Puzzle Fighter, Tetris, and Bust-A-Move instead of doing homework. We had our own Sushi and Prom themed parties where everyone did shots and took pictures with one another. We even helped pack all of Ryan’s things when he had to move out of his apartment! Everyone was there placing things in boxes while he was at work. By then it was Ryan, Shaun, and Lisa who decided to move in together in to another apartment in Long Beach. Her mother was NOT happy about her only daughter moving away from her parents, and we all knew how protective her mother was. She would warn us of her mothers wrath, but we all knew she loved both her parents. She was dedicated to her family and visited them every weekend, no matter what. She never talked about her father much, but some of us knew he was around and that she had two loving parents.
I was still living at home in ELA at the time they moved in together, but it didn’t take long before we were all meeting up at their place again. It was like a second home, a family of friends. We spent almost everyday, every weekend, every birthday together. It all seems like a blur of good times trying to remember all the silly things we did together. Lisa and I began to get closer, gossiping, chatting about our boy problems and trying to figure out our goals in life. I have one vivid memory of us walking to our respective classes together when she was lamenting some problems she was having with her boyfriend at the time, and I told her they would get through it together. I knew how much she loved him, and how much he loved her, and told her how sad I would be to see them breakup. I confided in her that she was one of my best friends and I wanted only the best for her, and I would support her no matter what. She seemed surprised by the revelation, but I meant every word.
I told her everything. As did a LOT of people. She loved to be there for people and listen to their problems. Lisa always had nice and positive things to say, and she never looked back, and encouraged all of us to do better. She was feisty and never held back her opinions on anything, and she had strong opinions on a lot of things. She loved fashion, design work, art, movies, and in my opinion, helped pen the term “Fashionista.” She used this term a lot before I heard it used any where else. Lisa lived with Ryan and Shaun for quite some time before she ventured out on her own and found another apartment two blocks away from the boys. At the time she planned to move in to the new apartment was also when she began to gain popularity with a group of online friends penned Otaku Booty. I was part of this online community for a little while, but Lisa and our other friends were all very popular on the site. Thus began her venture as an online socialite. She was amazing. She knew everyone, and I do mean everyone! Lisa was a multi-tasker. She could have five instant messaging conversations happening, two work projects going, and STILL keep talking to the person in the room with her. Lisa made friends easily, and began to help organize events which led us to gain more friends. They were dubbed (to us at least) the San Diego friends. Lisa never hesitated to visit our SD friends and would drive all over Southern California for all kinds of people she knew. From this online group of friends we made we all began to gather together (in real life) at parties and events where everyone was invited. And our circle of friends grew…
When Lisa found her new apartment one my other best friends named Melody also moved in with her, as well a friend she had made online named Umair, and unknown to her parents her boyfriend, at the time, Saul. The four of them made the place lively and comfortable. Lisa was always mad at Melody for saying they were roommates, not friends. I had brought Melody into the group of friends, by force, and she was immediately welcomed with open arms. I had also become closer to another friend from OB, who happened to be living close by in Long Beach, his name is Julian. With Lisa being busy with work and school, I began to get closer to Julian and Umair. I was also in the middle of a horrible breakup with a boyfriend, and needed to be around people and out of my house. I had already moved out of my parents house by then (a long side story on that later), and lived in Long Beach as well, a few blocks from everyone else. Lisa and I began to grow apart because we were both busy with school, life, and other diversions. I got closer and closer to Umair and Julian.
Then Julian moved to Seattle to live with a cousin and seek better job prospects, and shortly after his move all of us began to split apart.
Lisa loved being the center of attention, and since she was busy with school she began to get jealous that her housemates were hanging out with me, at her home, a lot. Now, in retrospect, I was there too much. However, I wasn’t working a lot, or in school, since I had run out of financial aid and couldn’t afford to attend college any more. I was also going through a rough time with my boyfriend at the time. Life sucked. So it hurt when suddenly Lisa banned me from the house. I knew it was bound to happen eventually, but it felt like I was banished from my second home. I tried to stay away, and not fuel the fire, but I couldn’t keep myself away from them for too long. I loved them. All of them. And especially Lisa. Even though I knew she was mad at me I couldn’t stay away. She was like a drug I couldn’t be without, and when I was away I felt alone and confused and didn’t know what do to with myself.
My friends were like my family.
Shortly after she had a falling out with Umair when he moved out, Lisa and I started to clash. Our spitfire personalities didn’t allow us to take a moment and realize what we were doing to each other. Some harsh words were written, exchanged, and passed along to others until finally we were no longer on speaking terms.
I was alone. Lost without my friends, and without my confidant. Sure, Melody is my best friend, but Lisa was there, everyday, up until we stopped talking. It was the beginning of the end.
I kept my distance because I didn’t want to cross paths with her wrath, our friends kept us separated because they didn’t want to take sides or see us fight. In the end what really kept us apart was our stubbornness and pride. I regret not sucking it up and confronting her with our issues so we could move on as friends. I regret not being there for her when Saul and her broke up. I regret not seeing her graduate from college. I mostly regret not being there for the last birthday she celebrated without me.
Over the last two years I started to reconnect with my old college friends and LB Crew, and every time we got together I felt she should be there as well. I even had thoughts of reaching out to her in hopes of having her at my 30th birthday party next month, and now she’ll never get to celebrate her own 30th birthday.
These past few days have been hard on us all. Each of us is coping in their own way. I will always miss and love Lisa no matter what, and I hope I can live my life to the fullest like she would have done. She never looked back and worked her hardest to be the best, and I hope I can do the same in her honor.