The year was 2002, and I worked at a job that felt more like a prison. After about a year, I began searching for other employment opportunities. I met a woman at work named Lori that I struggled to form an opinion about. She seemed cool but she often spoke with mean girls in the office. In “girl code” that meant Lori might be a mean girl too. Those women weren’t just nasty, they were ANGRY all the time – about what, I don’t know… but I wanted to ESCAPE.
No one could dislike Lori even if they tried. She presented herself well, and was always kind to others; her voice was sweet, and I knew there was more to her than just “work.”
I’ve always been fascinated by black-haired women, probably because I am a pale blonde. I usually describe myself as a dirty Human Q-tip. That is how I feel I look with my pale Irish skin, and yellow hair. Lori was edgy looking with her chopped off bangs. She dressed a bit wild for work. By wild, I mean she didn’t always wear the typical boring office attire. I was envious of her style, and her mindset. She didn’t care what the world thought about her. She was her own unique person, rocking an eyebrow ring and fancy skull blouses.
I went out one Saturday night to a bar, and to my surprise, Lori was there. I felt obligated to speak to her. After all, we did work together. It’s funny how alcohol can introduce the most amazing conversation. Within an hour, I felt like she was my BFF. That was new to me since my other friendships were built slowly over time. We gravitated together like two magnets.
The more we chatted, the more I adored her. My “office” opinion of her had drastically changed. I began jokingly telling her what a snotty biotch I thought she was back then. Then, she’d laugh and defend herself every time. Haha.
Over time, I realized Lori and I had almost identical mindsets about life as a whole. We were both Myers Briggs “Extroverted Intuitive Feeling Perceivers (ENFPs)” who loved helping others. We enjoyed being a part of something greater than ourselves and longed for peace in the world. We didn’t like controversy, and strongly disliked conflict. We’d go to great lengths to avoid it. We also openly admitted to each other that we were LAZY too, and totally cool with it.
I started taking Lori with me on my crazy adventures. One evening we were shopping at Forever 21 when I had a brilliant idea to hit a crazy bar I knew of in DC. We showed up at the bar basically wearing picnic attire. It was kind of hilarious because neither of us cared. We just wanted to dance and have fun.
One thing about Lori and I was/is our inability to be punctual. I think that’s why we hit it off so quickly. Neither of us minded going with the flow, for anything.
Over the next few years, our conversations deepened. Lori confided in me about some horrible things she endured in her childhood and her everyday battle with Bipolar disorder. She also lived with the loss of a child, a mother’s worse nightmare. I confided in her about the struggles of my highly abusive marriage, anxiety and insomnia. We were always there for each other during the “dark” times.
We pointed out the beautiful features we loved about each other, not to boost our self-worth, but because we actually meant it. I loved her dark curly hair. She was my Sicilian princess.
Eventually I left my abusive marriage. I spent months trying to pull my life together physically, mentally, and financially from the ruins my ex-husband left me with. Lori comforted me. One might think we were “the blind leading the blind” but we weren’t. We were more like protectors over each other… like an eagle nesting over her eaglet.
Lori and I understood that our children and dogs were priorities in our lives. If we had our children on weekends, they tagged along in whatever we did – movie nights, Chinese take-out, and we goofed around on MySpace a lot. We loved MySpace because it allowed us to change our pages to match our various moods. Lori and I also wrote a lot of “deep” poetry that sometimes we only shared with each other. Sleepovers at my apartment became a regular occurrence and I loved it. I felt like a goofy kid again.
As the storm of my upcoming divorce brewed, Lori’s love never wavered. It was my birthday weekend so we decided to take a weekend trip to VA Beach. The tranquility of the ocean relieved our uneasy minds yet we never went there to work on a tan. Nope. We went there just to get away from our chaotic lives for a bit.
Even disasters were “funny” in some sort of sick way. I drove us to the beach in Lori’s car. I made her listen to hours of Kelly Clarkson and Simple Plan. I knew she hated it but since I was driving, I felt entitled. Looking back, I don’t know how she tolerated it. Some of those songs were hideous. YUCK.
I was speeding on the way down when a cop pulled me over. I tried to portray the “woe is me” image, and I sweet-talked him: “But Officer, it’s my birthdayyyyy…..” The cop was like, “So what. Here’s your ticket.” /EPIC FAIL/
That same weekend we were sitting in our hotel room when the front desk clerk called and said someone had hit Lori’s car in the parking lot. We were dumbfounded. I mean, who hits a parked car? Duh. We walked outside and sure enough, some fool had knocked her bumper nearly off her car. A guy entered the scene and zip-tied her bumper back on to prevent it from dragging on the road. She exchanged insurance information then he left. We later discovered he gave us bogus insurance information. What a douchebag!
Our luggage had always been a humorous part of our trips. We laughed hysterically after unpacking our bags to discover we both brought along some “blonde” t-shirts. Lori’s t-shirt read, “Blondes Know How to Party” and mine read, “A Real Blonde.” Then, Lori realized she forget something essential… underwear. We went to Walmart and Lori bought cotton undies labeled Monday – Sunday. Lori just grabbed the first pair out of the pack and put them on. I chuckled because she didn’t care that she had been wearing Sunday labeled underwear on a FRIDAY. Haha. She viewed underwear as an essential item, not a piece of lingerie designed to woo men, or to feel glamorous. To be honest, I was the same way.
(Please disregard the middle man. He is irrelevant. Thank you!)
The funny thing is that we were always sleep-deprived and somewhat delirious from it. We’d stroll the sidewalks of many stores, constantly laughing at each other’s silliness. We entered a store while Lori was talking on her cell phone. As she continued talking, she held up a few necklaces she liked then put them back. Still on the phone, we got halfway down the street when Lori realized she was still holding one of the cheap necklaces. She got off the phone and said, “Melissa! Oh my gosh! I need to walk back and return it! I’ve stolen something.” I told her not to return it because I was afraid they wouldn’t believe her. Ok, so……. Ummm……… *cough* *cough*…. Say “hello” to your new cheap necklace.
I saw a shop displaying hoochie-looking mannequins in the window, so we stopped in there. At that time, hoochie clothes were my thing… uhhh, not so much anymore. Trashy does not equal sexy, I realized. We gathered several items to try on and that’s when I heard the mean Asian owners speaking to other customers. They made us feel awkward. I came out of the dressing room first with nothing I wanted to buy, but poor Lori was in for a treat. She walked out of her room with three empty hangers and said, “I found these hangers in my dressing room.” ….BOOM!!! The Asians started speaking in their native language and it was on like Donkey Kong. They demanded she sit on the floor while they searched her room, purse and body for stolen garments. WOW. Of course she hadn’t stolen anything, so we finally got to leave. Then, we burst out LAUGHING like no tomorrow.
We packed our bags, checked out of our hotel, and headed out when Lori decided she wanted to jump in the ocean. (Oh, ok! No problem!) We decided to wing it, and bought bikini bottoms from a nearby surfboard shop. After our spontaneous adventure, we drove the 4-hour trip home in our soaking wet clothes..… with no regrets! #saveawhalerideaturtle
On the ride home, Lori confided in me about being a mother. She had been doing it all on her own and felt stressed out. I said, “Lori, you’re a great mom. Your children adore you. You’ve always put them first. Look at Tawnie Kitaen (Whitesnake music videos). She just got arrested again because she is a bigtime crack-head, and she’s totally creepy looking now. Imagine what her kids are thinking, you know?” I don’t know how, but my comments boosted Lori’s spirits. About 15 minutes later, Lori said to me, “Hey, wait. You just compared me as a mother to a crack-head and I didn’t realize it.” OH-MY-GOSH. The tears of laughter rolled!
My final divorce hearing was set, and Lori came as my witness. My ex, who by then looked like Fire Marshall Bill, didn’t show up. We planned on driving straight from the courthouse to VA Beach for another weekend getaway. I’ll never forget that day, and how liberated I felt taking back my life and my birth-given name. As soon as we hopped in my car to roll out, “Bitter Sweet Symphony” started playing on the radio. I looked at Lori and smiled. We both knew what I was feeling in that moment…. “FREEDOM!” We rolled the windows down and let the breeze blast through our hair… Lori told me she was so proud of me. ❤
We arrived at the hotel Lori had booked for us. Wow. Upon entering, we were overwhelmed by the stench of chlorine from the pool. It nearly knocked us over. The indoor pool was a “centerpiece” and all the rooms surrounded it. “Unbreak My Heart” by Toni Braxton had been blasting over the loud speakers, and there was a strange, chubby guy back-floating alone in the pool. We held it together as best we could but as soon as we got into our room, the giggling overcame us! It was more like “Unbreak my eyes from this god-awful experience.” What the hell was this place?!
Our room looked like a Floridian nightmare. To top it off, it rained all weekend so Lori and I occupied the free wifi time on the hotel’s two available computers. We weren’t merciful to children wanting to use the computers either. Sorry, kids!
I found a guy on MySpace named Ben who lived in the area. We messaged each other then he came and picked Lori and I up to go to the mall. I know this reeks of a “48 Hours” show, so thankfully we’re still alive to look back and laugh at our stupidity. Ben was funny. We stopped at Wal-mart. I was alone in the shoe aisle when I heard, “Melissa, your parents are waiting for you at the front of the store. Please come to the front of the store,” over the store speakers. Thanks, guys. I laughed hysterically.
The next night we got dolled up and headed to Outback for dinner before clubbing at “Have a Nice Day Café.” Neither of us were sturdy on heels but I had more experience with it than Lori. I’m sure Lori felt obligated to wear heels because I did. While waiting for a table, we scanned the restaurant and noticed 12 good looking guys at one long table. We thought, “Oh, yeah. We’re going to parade by this table and get noticed….” That is until Lori slipped on an ‘invisible’ banana peel. Her near-floor collapse resembled that of a cartoon character’s banana-peel-slip-and-fall. Of course, she didn’t plan on going down alone and she grabbed my arm! All of the hot guys laughed at us. The game was over. No one thought we were sexy after that shit. Why does Outback make their floors so slick?! Geez!
Concerts were a big thing for me back then, and Nelly Furtado was coming to town. Lori, Michele, Mary, and I got tickets. Michele thought it would be cute if we wore matching colors. I knew this might be a small challenge for Lori, but she did great! She looked adorable, and I could tell she felt beautiful. During the concert, Mary and Michele were seated and looking at Lori and I like we were crazy… probably because we were. We were standing up dancing, taking over the whole aisle with our sexy, drop-it-low dance moves. LOL. Finally, management asked us to sit down. Ok, fine. Got it… Back to being “normal.”
For financial reasons I had to move back into my marital home, and I asked Lori if she wanted to live with me. She gave it about five seconds of real thought before shouting, “YES!! I can’t wait!” Her excitement made me excited! Plus, she was a great Italian cook. I knew I’d never starve with her in my house. Hallelujah! 🙂
Lori, Kelsi (daughter), Max (son), and Louie (bull-boxer), all moved in that following week with me, Matthew (son), and Rudy (yorkie). I was stoked. My other yorkie, Daisey, had still been living with my ex-husband. We couldn’t mutually agree on full custodial rights for both pets. Argghh.
One night we realized we had both added the same guy as a friend on MySpace. His name was Sam, and we both thought he was cute. After discovering our coincidence, we asked Sam to join us for a night out. He accepted our invitation. The drinks flowed and the music blasted. Lori and I had no idea where the night was headed; however, she told me in private that she felt a connection with Sam. Of course I was fine with it, considering she could have been murdered in VA Beach by my online stranger “friend,” Ben. It was as if we had “negotiated” Sam in that moment. LMAO!
Lori, Sam and I made plans for Halloween in downtown Baltimore. I invited my newest date, Christopher, to join us. He refused to go by “Chris,” only Chris-TOPHER… I met him on MySpace and he ended up being a total weirdo. He had been saying weird shit in the car on the drive up there, and he seemed pissed that none of us understood what his costume was supposed to be. Who dresses up as “The Verizon Guy” for Halloween? How the hell was I supposed to know that? So when Chris-TOPHER left the hotel room briefly, we started talking smack about him. He eavesdropped at the door and heard everything we said. He barged into the room, grabbed his bag and left. Till this day, we have no idea how he got home from Baltimore. We never spoke again. #anotheronebitesthedust
My costume was a disaster. I had to improvise when my online-ordered Alice in Wonderland costume didn’t fit. I thought I could pull off an 80s costume on my own. /EPIC FAIL/ All night, people had no idea what my costume was supposed to be. I ran around yelling “I’m 80s!!!” to everybody. That night still haunts me because I’ll never forget that winking cat’s face. #CashforCats
Eventually, Sam moved into my basement. It was nice to have a man around the house. Lori and I felt a sense of relief. #killyourTV #thecreepyguyoutsidemywindow
I had been talking to a new guy who worked on base named Sean. My ex-husband had still been stalking me and it made Sean uncomfortable, rightfully so. Lori didn’t care for him, and with good reason. Sean had made a pass at her but Lori shut that crap down quick. Anyway, Sean and I had been chatting online one night when I typed…. “BRB”… (short for “Be Right Back”)
I ended up coming back to a major shit-storm. Lori had pretended to be me and told Sean he was a fuck-face narcissist with a small penis. Then she deleted her “comments” so that it appeared nothing had happened. By the time I walked downstairs to resume chatting with him, he was blasting me up one side and down the other. I was baffled until I heard Lori and Sam laughing in the kitchen. I couldn’t get mad because it was absolutely hilarious. #datingsucks #nobodylikesme
Work life went on as usual and Lori and I decided to have lunch together at Lonestar. After eating, we made our way toward Lori’s minivan, still talking… Lori put her key in the door lock of the van but nothing was happening. I repeatedly tried to open the passenger side door. As we continued chatting, we finally realized we were at the wrong minivan. It wasn’t even the same model as hers. DUH. We felt so stupid. We laughed our butts off at that one.
Lori came home from shopping one day and said, “Look at this adorable jacket I got at JC Penney. It says “Italia” all over it.” I laughed so hard! I ran upstairs and came back down wearing the same jacket only mine said “Ireland” all over it. We cracked up! #thesearethemoments #Irishdoitbetter
Even when Lori and I tried our best to be on time, something always went wrong. Lori, Sam and I had tickets to see Gwen Stefani / Black-eyed Peas in concert. But Louie escaped the house as we were walking out the door. Lori loved the Harajuku dolls. I remember her having so many of their adorable purses. #hollabackgirl #thatsmyshit #thisshitisbananas
Back at home, Sam became the Dog Whisperer. I had custody of Daisey finally. Louie, Rudy, and Daisey never gave him a moment of peace. They all adored him. If he sat down on the couch, so did all three dogs (on his lap). We laughed, poked fun, and took pictures. Louie was insane. He had the humorous personality of a cat more so than a dog. He chased any kind of light reflection. Heck, he chased the reflection of his own dog tags on the wall and ceiling. I’d hear loud thumping noises and right away, I knew it was Louie chasing his dog tags around again. One morning, I got up and stuck a post-it note on each side of his dog tag to alleviate the problem. Haha! ..….a girls gotta sleep, you know?
It wasn’t uncommon to find me in the cul-de-sac chasing Louie around, trying to bribe him with a hot dog to come back into the house. It never worked. Louie was forever bolting out of the front door and galloping through the neighborhood like a crazed mini horse. The most comical dog activity had been Rudy trying to hump Louie. It was the weirdest sight you ever did see. A small dog humping the backside of a big dog. Louie used to just look back at Rudy like, “Are you f’ing crazy? Boy, pa-leeeeez.”
Is it horrible to listen to cursing rap music while your children are in the van on a family trip? The answer is “yes” it is. But what can I say – we did it. Sam, Lori, and I took our kids to the Baltimore Aquarium for a fun day trip. On the way up, we listened to Eminem, Ciara, and a few others… “Gold Digger” was on -repeat-, as I recall. Matthew and Max lived in another world some of the time, so I don’t believe they noticed the music in the car. LOL!
Missy Elliott was popular at the time (she’s still my favorite rapper); Lori and I were all about her “Lose Control” song. Now, my only vision of that song is this horrible, yet hilarious, YouTube video:
By that time I was trying my luck in new relationship with a guy named George I met on MySpace (again). (not featured in any photos for everyone’s convenience).
We often went out on couples’ dates. I don’t know how Lori and Sam dealt with it. My boyfriend got on my nerves horribly, so I know he got on theirs… but they hid it well. Somehow we managed to have fun regardless. I was beginning to think MySpace really was just “A place for friends,” not for dating! Love Lori’s bangs! #goodoledays #barRUN
Dysfunctional Halloweens became a part of our lives. Lori’s costume ripped. Mine was falling apart, and my date looked like a total retard. He was supposed to be David Hasselhoff (not featured). “Don’t Hassle the Hoff”…. Stupid. #noworriesbro #goodtimes!
Random nights out in Solomons were a good time. We always had something to laugh about. I don’t know what, but we did… LOL. #staringgame #lookintomyeyes #chainslinkbylink #wannabemanstealer #snoopysnowconemaker
Lori and I don’t enjoy working out, or sweating for that matter. This is my idea of in-sync exercising. I’m sitting next to Stevie Wonder.
We went on a 3-couples’ weekend trip to VA Beach. Michele, Lori, and I all bought matching t-shirts that weekend. Sam was there even though you can’t tell by my collage below. Michele and I both had our boyfriends present, but I can’t attach those photos because they’ve both been dumped. We went to a Poison/Cinderella concert that weekend. I was pumped up! I think everyone loved Big Hair Bands except Michele and Sam. “Something to Believe In” was sung, and I turned to see Lori crying. The emotions of that song were too much for her. LMAO. Uhhhh…. Ok….. I’ll never let her live that shit down. Ever.
Eventually Lori and Sam moved into their own home, and I made sure to visit often. The Wii was an exciting time as shown below. Haha!
We marathon-watched every season of The L Word, where they make all heterosexuals look like total morons… and every gorgeous lesbian had been adventurous and better at everything than straight people. Sam, Lori and I used to die laughing at some of the show’s story lines. We loved that series. #tibetteforever #shane #carmen
My boyfriend was useless when it came to home projects so I tried to do most of them on my own, or I paid someone. I watched him nearly electrocute himself to death just by trying to disassemble a cubicle work station in the basement of my house. Flames came out of the wires and lit his pants on fire. I just stood there in disbelief. #dudeyoureonfire #someonesaveme
My latest project had been to re-caulk my bathroom tub/shower. Oh the joys. NOT. After about an hour, I nearly lost my mind. I came racing downstairs yelling, “I CAN’T GET THE OLD CAULK OFF! SOMEONE HELP ME GET THE OLD CAULK OFF!” Lori and Sam just looked at me, stunned. So I yelled out the sentence again. Then we just stood there and laughed. I mean, how do you respond to something like that? Oh my word! It sounded hilarious.
We went out on several occasions, and anyone and everyone had always been welcome to join us.
Pimp N’ Ho Party at a friend’s house. I was supposed to be a Pimpette, but my costume didn’t work out so well. Go figure… But we had so much fun taking pictures all night long.
One weekend I shared a special moment with Lori. We were sitting on the beach talking about life when a handful of lady bugs flew over and landed on Lori’s arms and hands. Hundreds of people were on the beach that day yet those beautiful lady bugs only flew to Lori. Lady Bugs often visit Lori. We believe they’re a symbol of her guardian angel watching over her – Nicholas… her sweet baby boy who had been born prematurely and passed away 😦 #RIPangel
On the drive home, I couldn’t resist snapping these pics because I’m such an amazing friend! You’re welcome ❤
Kim & Steven’s Halloween Party was a lot of fun! 2007
If you truly care for someone, you do your best to learn about their life – that includes the dark side of mental and physical struggles. I read a lot about Bipolar disorder on my own time, and I listened to Lori when she needed to talk… never passing judgment. We all have personal battles we’re fighting… So, unless you’ve personally walked in someone else’s shoes, you have no right to pass judgment on how they’re dealing with their inner struggles. I was amazed when Lori decided to brave having dinner with Dennis (biological father). My role at dinner had been to support Lori as a friend, so I just sat beside her watching her facial expressions most of the time. I’d be lying if I said Dennis didn’t make my skin crawl. Lori is an amazing woman, and she is living proof that something beautiful can come from something horrible.
There were a few haters who tried to come between our friendship. Although I won’t name them, we know who they were… and they’re no longer relevant. Lori always played it cool, and never let any of them get under her skin. I admire her for that, because I would have lost my cool way before she ever did.
I did go through a period of time where I misunderstood Lori constantly breaking plans with me, but then I realized…. That’s not “Lori.” That’s her battle she’s fighting every. single. day.
Tiki Bar Opening, 2008 (Buddha, Buddha, Buddha Rockin’ Everywhere (and) Hottie on Wheels… Nice…. Haha!)
St. Patrick’s Day at the Ltown Pub, 2009
Vera White Sands, NGJB, 2009
I actually grew tired of dating… but continued trying my bad luck with it anyway. It was a frustrating experience, and I wondered if I would be spending the rest of my life “single.” Lori and Sam were a part of the entire journey. We always had fun together! I invited them to Ocean City to spend time with me and another “will remain nameless” boyfriend. We went to Seacrets, just the three of us. It was so much fun.
The Descent. OMG. Kill me now. I convinced Lori and Danny that I was ready to brave it, and watch a scary movie. I’ve always been a weenie when it came to scary movies but I was finally ready…. We decided to all curl up on Lori’s bed and watch it in her bedroom. Ummm, yea…. that was until that ugly-ass creature appeared! OH, HELLS NO! I kept getting up, screaming, and running up and down the hallway like a fool. Lori and Danny tortured me for weeks with this creature’s ugly face!
Dew Drop Inn, 2010 (That Chucky doll picture with Sam in the background cracks me up!)
The Edward Cullen Fantasy, 2010. How many people do you know that could have this much fun with a cardboard figure? (Lori has the groping thing down, I think. Wow @ how young Kelsi, Matthew, and Max look in this picture!)
I finally met the love of my life, John, in 2011. We met through an online dating service. The picture below is the very first night Lori would meet John. We started at Green Door then made our way to Dew Drop Inn. Yes, we’re a mess… not sure what’s going on in the other half of the split pic. Haha!
My Bridal Shower, Co-Ed Bach Party, and Wedding (2012)
For Lori’s birthday I bought us tickets to see The Real Housewives Live Tour in Atlantic City, NJ. What a joke. We were so bored. We finally just got up and left. HAHA. But the rest of the trip was great!
I convinced Lori to join me for Wine & Design for my 40th Birthday! We had a great time! August 2015
(Lori and John’s paintings were amazing… *cough* *cough*… Luckily, Michele made one for Lori to take home)
Lori means the world to me, and no matter the lapse between visits, the silence, distance, or times where we’ve needed our space, we’ll always be a part of each other’s lives… and I’ll always be there for her… no matter what. I love you, Lori xoxo
Here are some other random goodies over the years: