I was a freshman in college and away from home and out from under my mother’s control for the first time. After years of (what I now know was reasonable) rules and curfews and (maybe not so reasonable) suspicions and questions, the siren song of no curfew/no answering to anyone/no boss of me was irresistible. While I loved being a college student, going to class and learning new things, the freedom of being able to do what I wanted, when I wanted and with whom I wanted was far more interesting and fun for me.
I started out going to parties on the weekend, then during the week, then every day. I was drinking and getting high and having a grand old time. Pretty soon I was missing classes and practices and not really giving a shit. I was basically doing just enough to pass my courses and stay on the diving team and majorette squad – nothing more.
I had a friend – Lamb – who lived on my hall. She was a pretty innocent type – a preacher’s daughter who grew up sheltered and somewhat naïve. We were different in a lit of ways, but we got along well and had fun together. She would go to parties and have a few beers, but that was about the extent of it. She knew, as freshman year went long, that we were growing apart – mainly because of our diverging paths. She worried about me a lot, though I didn’t know it at the time.
Eventually, a sorority formal was coming up and I needed a date. Coincidentally, I had recently notice that my best friend Milo was calling me more often “just to see how I was doing”, so I figured he’d be the perfect date. I asked him, expecting to have to convince him a little, but to my surprise, he agreed to go right away. When the formal rolled around, we went and had a great time, sharing a room with Lamb and her date. We danced and drank and hot tubbed and caught up on the past months spent apart. But that night, Milo said something to me that I will never forget. He told me that Lamb had called him the month before and told him that she was worried about me. She wanted his advice and his help to get through to me – to help me see what I was doing to myself. He told me that he cared about me and didn’t want to see me throw it all away for a party. He told me he worried about my safety. He told me I could turn to him (or Lamb) anytime if I needed him.
It was a shock, to say the least. I mean, it wasn’t a full-blown intervention, but it still got to me. At first, I was furious. I felt betrayed by Lamb, felt that she was a goody-two-shoes for ratting me out to Milo – she was just naïve – she didn’t know that I could handle my alcohol – one drink seemed like a big deal to her – she was a Reefer-Madness groupie that was afraid of what she didn’t know, etc. I felt violated, since she had clearly gone through my stuff to find him. I felt that her perception of my lifestyle was the problem, and not my actual lifestyle. But it didn’t take long for me to come around and realize that these two people loved me and wanted to help me. Maybe their perception was a little off the typical college attitude of what’s acceptable, but their feelings and the reasons behind them were not.
Milo drove over a hundred miles to see me in person and talk to me. He risked my wrath (which can be great – and he was aware of – 18 years of friendship tells you a lot about a person and we certainly had our share of arguments) to help me. he wasn’t risking our friendship because, truly, nothing could come between us, but I’m not sure if he knew that. But he did it because he cared.
And Lamb. I realized that my friend Lamb risked a lot to get Milo’s last name and where he went to college. I realized that she made long distance phone calls to get his number and call him. She risked being hung up on or considered to be a nut-job by calling up a stranger and talking to him about his best friend. Btu she was willing to do all that, and risk out friendship because she cared abut me.
The reason I’m telling you about this is because we are currently bombarded with Britney stories and I almost can’t believe I’m saying it, but I feel so bad for this girl. I was the first one to gossip and gleefully devour all there was to read about her life – her skankiness, her outfits, her famous virginity (and papal commendations), and her I am a Woman now statements. I made fun of her suddenly-growing boobs and her stupid hats and snakes and hair and boyfriends.
I wondered over her strange behavior, her marriage to her professional baby daddy, and her wedding itself was free-for-all (Pimp jogging suits? WTF? And also – hahahahaha). But when she was pregnant again so soon, then started driving with her babies not strapped in, and going out in public looking like an alcoholic after a three-day bender, and freaking out, and dropping her kids, and looking like she couldn’t stand up on her own, and shaving her head, and losing her shit I started to feel differently. I started to feel bad for her. Not only is she clearly suffering and in need of help, there are two little boys without a mom right now, and that is a tragedy.
I read her entry last night, and my first thought (other than 1: I agree and 2: damn, she’s so much more eloquent than I) was, “Where are Her People?” Where are the parents that supposedly love her? Where is the sister that at least at one point looked up to her? Are there grandparents? Aunts? Uncles? Cousins? Doesn’t she have a Lamb and Milo? Anyone who gives a shit?
And that’s the saddest part of it. The fact that most of us would have the help and support we need (no – “Dr.” Phil does not count). The fact that we aren’t famous or rich or loved by millions and still, there would be 50 or 40 or 25 or even one person who do something. The fact that I know my “people” would shake me, or put me in front of a mirror and show me what I had become, or get me some real help, or help me with my kids, or escort me to court dates and doctor’s visits, they would do something. The fact that hers, it seems, will not.