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, Iâ€™d ended the friendship because the person wasnâ€™t what I thought she was and that she had lied to me.
My colleague proceeded to berate me, asking why I, as an Â intuitive Â person, Â had Â missed Â out Â on Â some Â of Â this womanâ€™s lesser qualities Â and Â 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 Â figure out why I had cut this new friend so much slack. The answer is Â another eye opener from my Daytona trip.
One of the real blessings of this trip was getting to see Maggie Shayne again. I know weâ€™ve been together in different lifetimes and sheâ€™s been instrumental to me in this one. I first met her around 1993 around the Â time weâ€™d both sold our first books to the same editor. Weâ€™d met online at a dial-up bulletin board called GEnieRomEX or Romance Exchange, which was a writersâ€™ group Iâ€™d been introduced to by Colonel Â Merline Â Lovelace Â 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 Â 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. Â 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 Â 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 didnâ€™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 aboutâ€”just Â that thereâ€™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. Â In the past 12 years, Â Iâ€™ve seenÂ her maybe once a year if I was lucky, and each time weâ€™ve taken up exactly where we left off beforeâ€”with Â sisterly conversation and a genuine Â affection Â for each Â other. Iâ€™ve never seen her outside of a convention or writersâ€™ conference or a book signing. When I think of our friendship, I think of the different Â hotels and the different Â bars where weâ€™ve had different conversations.
I rememberÂ Â conductingÂ Â a Â ritual Â with Â her Â in Â the wooded area Â near a hotel in Washington, Â 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 didnâ€™t understand at that time and how we planned to do a book Â together, the one that became â€œWitch Moon Rising, Â Witch Â Moon Â Waningâ€. Â I Â remember Â a Â hotel Â in New Orleans where she conducted my Dedication Ritual into the Black Forest Clan not too long before she left that Circle.
Thereâ€™s another Â bar in Orlando, too, at yet another writersâ€™ conference where the waiter flirted with her, not realizing sheâ€™d just had her first grandchild. That was such a kickÂ for us both! Â And then Â we Â talked Â of books Â 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 Â a tiny writersâ€™ conference Â in Pensacola Â a month before Â I Â 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 Â a Â very Â peaceful Â healing Â ritual Â together Â that helped to sustain me through the next few months.
I remember a conference Â in New York City a couple years ago. Maggie had just lost weight, down to a skinny sizeâ€”oh, I donâ€™t know, a Â 6 Â maybe? An 8? I remember that that was the question, what size jeans was she wearing, when she said Iâ€™m not sure, theyâ€™re my kidâ€™s jeans. I looked down the back to see what the tag saidâ€”at her invitationâ€¦since she couldnâ€™t see it. And so there I stood with hands down the back of Maggie Shayneâ€™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 Â conference Â in Daytona, Â I will Â 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 Â discussed deep, heartfelt situations that I think have brought us even closer together.
And Iâ€™ll always remember this, too:
On the last night of my trip to Daytona, after Maggie has already Â flown Â back Â home, Â I go for Â a walk Â on the beach with Shannon. â€œI really like Maggie,â€ she tells me.
â€œYeah, so do I.â€
â€œYou know what?â€ she says, and I know exactly what sheâ€™ll say Â before the words come out of her mouth be- cause Iâ€™m thinking the exact same thing. â€œMaggie reminds me a lot of that friend you had last year.â€ And sheâ€™s right. And so hereâ€™s the next Daytona eye opener. I now realize that the reason that I cut so much slack to a new friend who didnâ€™t quite meet my standards for integrity was be- cause Â there Â were Â things Â aboutÂ her Â physically Â and Â to Â a much lesser degree personality-wise Â that reminded me of Maggie. A pale shadow. Â I see now by comparison Â 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 Â done Â them. Because it was Maggie, and it was our history.