Monday, October 10, 2011

Have you found your Veep?

veep (vEp)
n. Slang
1. A vice president, second in command, right hand person
2. Someone with whom you have shared so much that no matter how long it has been since you have seen or spoken to them when you do it is as if no time has passed, someone who reminds you of a glorious past (real or perceived)

A Veep is not reserved for presidential candidates or CEOs.   Whether we know it or not, a Veep is both something we all want and someone for whom we all search.  My search for a Veep started very young.  To understand how important having a Veep is to me, you must go back to 1967 in the Blue Ridge Mountains, down in the Shenandoah Valley.  My mother was in her senior year at a boarding school called Shenandoah Valley Academy or SVA.  She was not a delinquent, a druggie or god forbid, a loose woman /gasp/, but rather this was a sought after place, a veritable teen wonderland. 
Although the year was 1967, the school had remained in the 1950’s, frozen in an age of innocence.  The girls still wore skirts and blouses with headbands and clean faces, while the boys wore white collared shirts, slacks and loafers and with their hair parted just right.  You know the time period, even if, just like me, you weren’t alive.  We see it on TV and in movies.  A simple happy time.  Clean happy faces, clean pressed clothes, clean fun.  This is what the SVA of 1967 is like to me, a golden age.  In fact the pictures I have in my mind, the stories I hold in my heart and the feelings I have for that place make me nostalgic for a time and place that I never experienced.
It was in this bubble, this safe haven, where my mother met HER Veep.  I could not even begin to share all of the stories and adventures that bonded these two women to each other.  I am not even sure I am at liberty to share how the name Veep or her alter ego Viola came about, but suffice to say, they love each other deeply and their friendship has withstood the test of time.
My Mother                Her Veep 
Growing up we vacationed with the Veep and her family, spent weekends each other’s homes and played games that we made up ourselves – like GAAAUUD (as in guard but also has a version that is similar to god) which consisted of us kids being thrown on the sofa over and over if we tried to get up.  In short we shared our lives together.  We were always so thrilled to see them, the Veep family, and I remember the excited feeling I had that someday I would have a Veep too! 
Truth be told it has not always been easy for them – my mom and her Veep.  I have seen times when they are as tight as ticks and other times when they do not quite see eye to eye.  But like a good marriage, they persevere.  I don’t know how they do it; maybe they remember the good times when times are tough, maybe they remind themselves that ‘she is just doing the best she can,’ or maybe they just love each other despite their differences.  Whatever it is, this perseverance is what makes her my mother’s Veep.
It was with these expectations of a 1950’s perfect bubble world where I would find my Veep, that I attended SVA in the mid 80’s.  I stayed only a year.  After years of hearing stories, seeing pictures and witnessing the resulting friendships, I attended SVA looking for my mother’s school and my mother’s experiences.  I did not allow for the changes that had taken place over the years, not only in the school but in the world.  I wanted to travel back in time and I was continually disappointed when I was faced with the reality of my own time.  One problem was that I had created a dream SVA that NEVER existed, not even in my mother’s time.  The other problem?   I thought I would run smack dab into my Veep.  “Good day Tara.  Here is your room assignment, your class schedule and if you will step right over here this nice young lady will be your Veep.”
To be fair, when I attended SVA it was a grand place, still a veritable kid haven.  There were great teachers, fabulous students and awesome activities; it was still a place that was tucked away from the cares of the world and contained vestiges of a simpler time.  I would even venture to guess that my Veep might have been there.  I just did not stay or invest myself enough in the school or the people to find her.
Since I had been looking for my Veep almost all my life, it was with great celebration in my heart when I thought I found her in a friend.  We saw each other daily, shared intimate details of our lives, laughed and cried together.  She was a dear dear friend of mine for several years but alas she was not my Veep.  I was devastated when I first realized this.  But I was going through a divorce and to be fair to her, it was unpleasant all around to be in the midst of it.  She bailed and never returned.  And I began to doubt that a Veep existed for me.
It has only been recently that I have begun to realize a few things about this search for my Veep.  I have been doing the same thing with the Veep search that I had done with my time at SVA (and perhaps even other things in life but don’t make me look at everything).  I was disregarding reality and trying to create a person who does not exist, even for my mother.  Yes THE Veep, my mother’s Veep is an original, never to be repeated in any time/space continuum.  She is a dear friend to my mother, sharing an incredible history together.  But like the SVA in the bubble, I have created in my mind a fantasy friend that reality simply will not allow for.
Is this right?  Am I never to find even a fax simile of a Veep?  Actually, if I factor in reality and account for myself in the equation, I have several Veeps – and I would venture to guess that both my mother and her Veep have other Veeps too!
I have the Veep that did stick with me though the divorce, who said the hard things but loved me anyway, who comes to the important events even though she is an introvert, and who used to share chocolate volcano cake with me wherever we could find them (but now we have both given up that vice)!
I have the Veep who comes to our spur of the moment dinners, who never fails to brighten my day with her positive outlook on life, whose husband is one of my husband’s Veeps, whose son swears that he is Bella’s fella, and who loves my children even when they are rotten!
I have the Veep who after many years has resurfaced and it is as if she were never gone, who has one of the kindest hearts I know – she hand feeds her dying lizard and takes care of stray cats, who calls me once a week just to chat, and who thinks I am so darn funny!
I have two sister Veeps who are incredible, for whom I have waited and waited for adulthood to arrive and for whom the wait has been worth it, who are fiercely loyal, mama bears to all our children and who are beautiful women in their own right.
I have the two Veeps who my husband found for me, who have got to be some of the nicest women you would ever meet, who are intelligent and witty, and who live far away but whom I hold near in my heart.
I even have the Veep who did go to SVA, who I have gotten to know better in the last few years than I did in the brief one at school, and who I think is one very cool chick!
For the sake of brevity I must stop there but I know I have other Veeps and I love and appreciate everyone one of them for whatever time we spend with each other, however brief or eternal!
So I think maybe there is a spirit of Veep, in all the women in my life, that I have been tapping into without realizing it.  Perhaps some Veeps come and some Veeps go, perhaps there are major Veeps and minor Veeps, and just perhaps true Veeps are around forever.  I don’t know any more.  What I do know is that instead of searching for my Veep, instead of hanging on to an unrealistic ideal of friendship, I have decided to just enjoy the women in my life and simply let the rest of it take care of itself.  As for the 1950’s bubble school called SVA?  Well I am holding onto that one for my dreams!