I have a three day weekend all to myself... well including 1 golden retriever, 1 tabby cat and 1 himalayan persian. The great thing about the animals is they sleep 90% of the day and they listen to everything I say with barely a bark or meow of back talk. The rest of my family is off at the Gorge Amphitheater at the Sasquatch Music Festival. I am hoping their weather is a little better than ours here in Portland, or they are getting pretty soaked.
One of the things I love to do while my family is away, is to watch movies that I don't otherwise normally get to watch, for whatever reason. One of the movies I have wanted to see for a while is Juno (2007). Now, I know this movie is from last year, but we don't really get out to the movies very often and I have advocated to watch this movie before, but have been shot down because Joey and Julia saw it when it first came out and Sammy has absolutely refused to watch it (hmmm). Michael was indifferent. So I didn't fight for it, but it was the first movie I watched after they left.
I usually go to Rotten Tomatoes before watching a movie, but I don't always let it sway my desire for watching a movie, one way or the other: Juno Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes. When I saw the RT synopsis for this movie put it in the same quirky category as Little Miss Sunshine (2006) and Lars and the Real Girl (2007) I knew it would be a good movie for me, and I loved it. Now, when it comes to me and movies, unless it is sci-fi which I don't have a lot of patience for, I usually just judge the movie by my feeling at the end. This bittersweet comedy really left me with a satisfied feeling. I thought the cast and script were great and believable (within the context) and I am really glad I watched.
The other thing it did for me, and the reason for this post, is it got me thinking about how hard it is to be a teenager and how difficult it is for someone with limited maturity and experience to be thrust into a world full of adult decisions. All part of growing up, sure, but arguably the most difficult part of growing up. I thought Juno's Father's character was well written and inspirational. To be that accepting of your child and her struggles... very cool. With two teens, this is a concept very close to my heart right now -- just because you don't necessarily approve of what they do, it doesn't mean you don't love them, unconditionally.
A few of the lines and themes of the movie really brought back some memories of high school and college, but mainly of trying to sort out feelings for someone and build a relationship on it. Now, this gets a little personal, but Michael really hasn't made an entrance into my blog yet, and I thought this was the perfect time for me to take the plunge.
This first picture was actually taken before I met Michael. His Mother took him to London as a high school graduation present. All I can say is perms were all the rage in the early 80's and that lady to the right of Michael looks really british. Anyway, I have always liked this picture. I finally got to see Buckingham Palace myself this past February, but that is a blog for a different day.Michael and I met Super Bowl Sunday, January 22, 1984 at a party at his fraternity. I tagged along with my new roommate, Tracey Miller, from Manzanita Dorm at ASU. Although I barely spoke to Michael that day, he made an impression. I distinctly remember him as skinny with a large nose, big smile and strange outfit of high water overalls and a Miller Paint cap. He was quirky and amusing, certainly not forgettable, but let's say he didn't sweep me off my feet. He seemed to be sort of the eccentric mascot for his fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha. ASU was a big, new venue for me. I wouldn't call myself shy, but certainly wary and a bit intimidated by the whole social scene. I mean, really, I had been pretty sheltered and was much more confident with my 2 1/2 year old twin brothers than I was with this college crowd--and ASU was voted Playboy's #1 party school that year.
Kari and Tracey, July 29, 1989
So, Tracey gets a photo here since she played
such a huge role in mine and Michael's lives and relationship
for basically the first 5 years. She was my roommate for nearly three years and my Maid-of-Honor.
After that January day, I dated a bit, something I really hadn't done much before this point. I met a lot of different types of guys and it was an eye opening experience. Michael was there, in the background. I hadn't really thought much about him since Super Bowl Sunday, but apparently he had thought about me. This is weird for someone who never really thought anyone thought of her, at all. Michael would call and talk with my roommate, a lot. I really thought Michael was after Tracey and I just went about my own business. Michael was running for Student Body Class President at ASU that spring semester and he had no car. Since Tracey worked at Dairy Queen after school, she was unavailable, so Michael asked (begged?) me to take him around to all his speeches. I thought this was funny and I didn't really mind. I was really quite intrigued by Michael as he had so much confidence and seemed to thrive in front of a crowd--this was just so foreign for me. I couldn't imagine anyone enjoying it.
And the story goes that Michael invited me to a concert. I can't really remember who all was there, but Michael was really in love with the Turtles and the Association, retro 60's stuff, at that point and they were the headliners. It was a small venue and we had great seats. Michael was SO excited. A couple of times during the concert he tried to hold my hand... which I avoided. I did have a great time, but I had to tell Michael that I really just wanted to be friends (which, I guess, is the kiss of death--and it wasn't the first, and wouldn't be the last time Michael heard this phrase). Maybe it was harsh, but I had to be truthful.
I guess I am ultimately the lucky one. Because Michael continued to pursue me throughout the rest of Spring Semester. He invited me to the Hillel Center (the Jewish College Campus Organization) for my first Passover Seder. I really hadn't been exposed to any Jewish culture, in my life and only knew one other Jewish person before meeting Michael. But I really did not understand what it all meant. With my religious upbringing being split between the Episcopalian and LDS churches, I was enjoying my freedom from religion at that point. What was interesting to me about the Seder, was that it didn't feel religious, it felt social and cultural. It was interesting and fun, however, we had to stay way past midnight cleaning up and that wasn't really that much fun, and past my bedtime. Even when Tracey and I would go out to parties, clubs and such, I had to take a nap beforehand. My parents had instilled the early to bed, early to rise thing in me and it took a long time to break that--but Michael did help me break it and now I wish I had it back.
The semester progressed and I continued seeing Michael, as a friend. He bought me flowers and took me to dinner on my birthday before I left town for a short visit back to Portland. It was on this date, right before I left town, that I must have given Michael the impression that there was something there for him to pursue (and I guess I did). Michael returned to LA. When I got back to Dad's house in Mesa, Dad was waiting for me on the front porch with a pile of letters. I had been gone for maybe 10 days. I think Dad thought it was funny, but he was like, "who is this Michael Lubitz???" I gathered my letters and proceeded to move into an apartment for the summer. One of my roommates, who knew Michael, was dying for me to open the letters and read them. So, I did and she quickly read them right after I read them. She was ooohing and aaaahing and crying. I had no feelings, other than I really needed to set this guy straight. Obviously I had lead Michael to believe that there was a lot more to our relationship than there was. Michael lived in LA and it was 1984 and his family had tickets to the summer olympics. He was inviting me to join him and was very excited about all the prospects. So, I did what I had to do and I called him and told him that I could not visit him in LA and I could not go to the olympics with him. Okay, this is an addition to the post, Michael forced me to alter my version to the truth as he remembers it. Apparently I did not "call", I wrote him a "Dear John" letter (geez, some people, it all worked out in the end). He was heartbroken. He did not call or write after that.
It was a relief really and I went about my business for the rest of the summer. I didn't date much, but was really busy with my roommates and jobs. I worked two jobs, one as a receptionist/runner for a talented commercial photographer and the other at Honey Treat Yogurt at the strip mall at the corner of Mill and University in Tempe. So, Fall Semester starts in August at ASU. A boyfriend from the previous school year had returned to town a little early and had looked me up (an ex-fraternity brother of Michael's actually). This date with "him" the other guy (I don't think it is actually appropriate to put his real name in a blog devoted to Michael) was to the Prince movie, Purple Rain that had opened the week before. I loved and still do love Prince. So, you would think this would be the perfect date, right? But there was just something wrong. Nothing felt right and I did not have a good time (although I did love watching Prince).
I had started thinking back to all the guys I had dated the year before and comparing them with Michael. I wasn't really lonely, at college there just seems to always be tons of people around all the time, but there was definitely something missing. About a week after my disastrous Purple Rain date, I was working at the yogurt shop and playing on the radio was (and I know this is really corny) Chicago's "Hard Habit to Break", which had been released in July and was all over the radio waves--as they say. Chicago is another of Michael's favorite bands and it just really got to me. On my break I took a walk and there was Michael's car at the pizza/beer joint down the strip. Now, as you remember from earlier in the blog, Michael didn't have a car at school, but he had a car at home and for his Junior year his parents had decided to let him bring it. It became quite famous around campus that 1984-1985 year for its unique license plate: "He Bunky" and also for the persistent "Rhino Boot" that the local ASU parking patrol kept placing on it for all Michael's unpaid parking tickets.
Anyway, his little Red Honda Prelude with the He Bunky license plate made me stop in my tracks and it was at that very moment, and I can remember it like yesterday, that I decided Michael was the one. Now, I know that sounds selfish and arrogant, but come on, this guy had been chasing me for months. I guess in the same respect as I really never thought anyone would pursue me, I never really thought he wouldn't say yes when I called his fraternity later that day and invited him to the yogurt shop for a "free" yogurt. Now, whether it was because the yogurt was free, or because he wanted to see me, I'll never know, but he did come over to the yogurt shop that night. He also brought his roommate, Bill Kersey, with him. Which I thought was lame, but once bitten, twice shy, I guess. Bill didn't really like me, but gee, a potential girlfriend trumps what a roommate thinks, every time.
Well, the rest, as they say, is history. We started dating that week and have been together ever since. We got engaged November 1985 and married July 1989. I know I can be pretty aggressive and controlling, but I really have to say... Michael asked for it.
Our first formal dance together.
Michael's first trip to Portland to meet the Fleming family,
Christmas 1984. Besides the fact that Michael still has great hair in
this picture, Mac, the best family dog ever is in the background.
I have to give a shout out to all my parents here too because I brought home a specimen the likes of which none of my parents had probably ever seen. They all took it in stride, no matter how quirky Michael was and is and have never really questioned my judgment nor given me grief for converting to Judaism--and I love them for that.
Wow, I have been blogging for an hour and a half -- I really shouldn't be left alone!