Lending History to a Stranger

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Tilt.

Last fall, a colleague asked if I was still friends with a mutual acquaintance of ours. I confessed to her that no, I’d ended the friendship because the person wasn’t what I thought she was and that she had lied to me.

The Long-Awaited Honest-to-God Secret to Being Happy

My colleague proceeded to berate me, asking why I, as an  intuitive  person,  had  missed  out  on  some  of  this woman’s lesser qualities  and  why I had been willing to overlook so many of them for so long. I ended up feeling both defensive and stupid, but I did try to look at it later and  figure out why I had cut this new friend so much slack. The answer is  another eye opener from my Daytona trip.

One of the real blessings of this trip was getting to see Maggie Shayne again. I know we’ve been together in different lifetimes and she’s been instrumental to me in this one. I first met her around 1993 around the  time we’d both sold our first books to the same editor. We’d met online at a dial-up bulletin board called GEnieRomEX or Romance Exchange, which was a writers’ group I’d been introduced to by Colonel  Merline  Lovelace  and how I met more good friends just a few weeks after I joined.

Maggie and I probably talked online for a year. Back then I knew her as Mort-the-Peg-of-Death  or Mort, short for Morticia, because she was writing vampire novels for the Shadows line at Silhouette Books. I met her in person in July 1994 in New York City at a convention.  She was outgoing, friendly, full of fire and terribly charismatic. We took to each other immediately and on that last night in New York after all of the  award ceremonies were over, we sat in a bar in the Marriott Marquis until they kicked us out two or three in the morning.

I didn’t sleep at all that night because I had to be up at five to be on a flight home, and I have no idea of all the things that we talked about—just  that there’s a sense of recognition between the two of us that we had been together through many, many lifetimes and had found each other again.  In the past 12 years,  I’ve seen  her maybe once a year if I was lucky, and each time we’ve taken up exactly where we left off before—with  sisterly conversation and a genuine  affection  for each  other. I’ve never seen her outside of a convention or writers’ conference or a book signing. When I think of our friendship, I think of the different  hotels and the different  bars where we’ve had different conversations.

I remember   conducting   a  ritual  with  her  in  the wooded area  near a hotel in Washington,  DC, where I took the role of Maiden and she took the role of Mother. I remember later sitting on a balcony overlooking the city and talking about our Wiccan books and publishers who just didn’t understand at that time and how we planned to do a book  together, the one that became “Witch Moon Rising,  Witch  Moon  Waning”.  I  remember  a  hotel  in New Orleans where she conducted my Dedication Ritual into the Black Forest Clan not too long before she left that Circle.

I remember a bar in Chicago where we talked about pagan music  and  formal Wiccan degree systems for the clergy.Flying By Night novel

There’s another  bar in Orlando, too, at yet another writers’ conference where the waiter flirted with her, not realizing she’d just had her first grandchild. That was such a kick  for us both!  And then  we  talked  of books  and plans for the future and of the banshee novels that I had in mind but have yet to propose to any editor.

I remember  a tiny writers’ conference  in Pensacola  a month before  I  filed for divorce and just a few months before Hurricane Ivan wiped out the whole place. I blubbered my heart out about my marriage while she listened, and then we went out into the waters of the Gulf and performed  a  very  peaceful  healing  ritual  together  that helped to sustain me through the next few months.

I remember a conference  in New York City a couple years ago. Maggie had just lost weight, down to a skinny size—oh, I don’t know, a  6  maybe? An 8? I remember that that was the question, what size jeans was she wearing, when she said I’m not sure, they’re my kid’s jeans. I looked down the back to see what the tag said—at her invitation…since she couldn’t see it. And so there I stood with hands down the back of Maggie Shayne’s jeans, trying to fold the size tag up so that I could see the number on it. And her with both hands down the front of the same jeans while she tried to feel for a size tag near the zipper. And at that very moment, several people walking into the room and gave us the strangest look.

From this  conference  in Daytona,  I will  remember

how she and I read tarot cards for each other (with all the psychics and High Priestesses there, I got to do this several times!) and how we  discussed deep, heartfelt situations that I think have brought us even closer together.

And I’ll always remember this, too:

On the last night of my trip to Daytona, after Maggie has already  flown  back  home,  I go for  a walk  on the beach with Shannon. “I really like Maggie,” she tells me.

“Yeah, so do I.”

“You know what?” she says, and I know exactly what she’ll say  before the words come out of her mouth be- cause I’m thinking the exact same thing. “Maggie reminds me a lot of that friend you had last year.” And she’s right. And so here’s the next Daytona eye opener. I now realize that the reason that I cut so much slack to a new friend who didn’t quite meet my standards for integrity was be- cause  there  were  things  about  her  physically  and  to  a much lesser degree personality-wise  that reminded me of Maggie. A pale shadow.  I see now by comparison  but there had been enough likeness that I had been willing to overlook things that, yes, I would have overlooked those things in Maggie if she had  done  them. Because it was Maggie, and it was our history.