June 30, 2002
It's a little bit ironic, but my first memories of Danielle are visions of her with braces at age 13, wearing a dress or a skirt, slow-dancing with boys during the great champagne snowball of '86 that whitewashed every bar or bat mitzvah on the North Shore. Fast forward to 1989, when most of the people I knew had their learner's permit and were lucky enough to get the keys to the frumpy family station wagon. Well here comes Danielle, wearing a baseball hat, rolling down Martha Lane like a bad-ass in her red, wicked-cool 1966 Ford Mustang! Danielle was gifted in the chutzpah dept., and she knew the subtle arts of Bondo.
Danielle's brother David let her play his wicked rockstar drum kit that he kept in a room in the back of their basement that also had an electric train set and these bright fluorescent lights. Danielle was taking drumming lessons, and I was learning the guitar. Sandy and Ron probably remember our musical experiments. I would bring over my heavy-metal-looking ax and my tiny practice amp, which inevitably got fried beyond repair by our loud jams. An early achievement was our three-hour-long rendition of just the central riff from "Smoke on the Water." Danielle did this cool thing on the high hat to introduce the piece. While we rehearsed we ate a lot of Kit Kats we found in these little bowls the Drumkes seemed to have all around the house.
At a certain point we liked to talk about girls, and I don't think that we were ever jealous of each other in any kind of dumb high school way. We would hang out in Danielle's bedroom and listen to her records. Somehow she acquired a really kickin' sound system. Danielle knew about all of these bands and musicians I had never even heard of, like The Cure, Billy Bragg and Joan Jett. The sophistication of her palate made me see how incredibly "training wheels" my growing collection of Led Zeppelin records was. A part of her room was wallpapered with ticket stubs from the many concerts she had attended. She talked about being a radio DJ.
Danielle loved to play highball, which is like a game of Nerf basketball that you play inside a tall mesh tube while bouncing on a trampoline. We
could only play highball at this kind of sleazy indoor batting cage establishment at Clark and Addison called Sluggers. I think Danielle derived pleasure from knowing that she was the superior athlete among our friends, and that she could cream us on the court every time.
This was how I knew Danielle, when we first became friends. We traveled in the same social circles, and I remember us spending a lot of time together. But when senior year rolled around, I don't think that either of us counted on having girlfriends who were next-door neighbors. Nor do I think that either of us could have anticipated the surprise of encountering each other in the thin hours of the summer night, slinking stealthily from these houses and walking to our cars, parked one behind the other on the street. This is one of my favorite memories of Danielle.
This March, my girlfriend, Tami, and I got to spend about a week with Danielle in San Francisco. The moment she opened the door to her apartment, I was relieved to see that she was still 100 percent vintage Danielle. Of course she couldn't communicate well anymore and she faced many other challenges. But she was still the sweet, funny, feisty, competitive person I have always loved.
I am very grateful for that beautiful week of change, games, and saying what each of us meant to the other, not always using words. It was our goodbye, and I feel lucky to have it inside of me now.
I miss my friend Danielle.
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