It’s been one year since Stacy Campbell left us. Her sense of humor was as legendary as her eye for beauty, and the world hasn’t been the same without her. She was sarcastic, dark, absurd, brilliant, and compassionate, and she touched each of us with her words, her photos, or her soul. She was my soul sister, my best friend, and one of the great loves of my life. And here, at the one year anniversary of her death, I knew that it was time to elevate her to the same level as every celebrity I’ve ever fake interviewed by fake interviewing her. She is a celebrity – she was Jürgen Nation. She was Indie Ink. She was Anastacia. She was Stacy Fucking Campbell.
Me: Hi, Stacy.
SFC: Well, harumph! Never did I ever antici . . . pate that I’d be the subject of one of my bestie’s interviews, but *she says while fanning herself furiously*, I didn’t think it would take THIS GD LONG. There’s only so much waiting a lady can do, sitting idly whilst hemming and hawing until her bearded devil man shows up to ask her a bunch of questions that will, natch, bring about the gnashing of teeth and tearing up of the eye-parts that I imagine occurs regularly when he plies his authorial skills.
Me: I really should have done this a while ago, but I wasn’t ready. Not that you can ever be ready for this. And to be honest, I was mad at you. Hell, Stace, I’m still mad at you.
SFC: Oof, let’s explore that. Are you mad because (A) I stood by my words and did what I said I was going to do and even you, with all your manliness and super powers, couldn’t convince me not to, (B) I forgot to send you the power-of-attorney, resulting in a bevy of vituperative and borderline despicable actions being taken by those whom never meant a lick to me, compared you and my closest besties, or (C) it’s easier than being sad, even though sadness is an emotion we need for that chance to really, truly, indubitably, zoobilee zooily FEEL happiness?
Me: D, All of the above, plus E-Z?
SFC: *checks with judges*. Looks like we’ll allow it, but I counter with this, dearest Addy: Life is a highway (unintentional hat-tip to Tom Cochrane) with people getting on and getting off, and all of us just scurrying around (like rats because it’s a rat race – METAPHORS!) waiting for our exit, and maybe you’re mostly mad (which is like being mostly dead, but without Miracle Max running around yelling Humperdink) because my exit came up before yours. Huh? What do you say? You can’t argue with my logic?
*drops mic* *dances a little, realizes nobody’s dancing with her, asks Steph why nobody will dance with her*
Me: Maybe a little. But I’m also mad that you had all of us, and you didn’t come to us. You had Stephanie, Tom, Krystyna, Tia, Racheal, and me, as well as everyone else – all of the family and friends and people out there – and we would have moved mountains for you. If you’d only asked.
SFC: Oh, my dear Addy, don’t you know how much I knew that? I knew that I could pick up the phone, and you’d be there, shovel in hand, not to move the mountain, mind you, but to help me bury the bodies. That’s how much I knew I could count on you.
Me: Yeah, but instead, we buried you.
SFC: Ooof, she repeats, taking another solid blow. Not nice to try to lay ye ol’ guilt trip on your bestie when she’s already been gone for a year. First of all, I’m like Teflon, baby, and guilt just slides off me like a pair of fried eggs. And secondly . . . well, wait, it’s time for me to ask you questions. Would you say that I was a relatively (compared to gen pop) intelligent and savvy gal with an equally savvy understanding of the world? *bats eyes*
Me: Yes, absolutely. You had a level of understanding that most people don’t even realize is possible, and can’t even try to aspire to reach. You were someone who just knew when to be there for someone, and what to say to make their lives better. It’s why you were my beautiful soul sister, and meant just as much to so many others as you did to me.
SFC: A simple yes would be sufficient. Flattery is unnecessary! Next question – was I someone with no brain waves, an individual under the age of consent, or a non-human (none of whom can give consent anyway), or was I a fully (relatively so) functioning adult?
SFC: NO SIGHING IN BASEBALL, ADS! Answer me. Yes or no – was I an adult?
Me: Yes. You were an adult.
SFC: So, if it pleases the court (even though it appears the judge is not wearing pants YET AGAIN), would you in fact say that my choices were mine as a functioning, intelligent adult, and that your anger is less about me, and more about you? That you, in frustration of your lack of control, have decided to be mad because that’s something you can understand?
*picks up mic, drops it again*
Me: Fucker. I’m used to being the one who’s always right, you know.
SFC: Ha! I say again, HA! You, like every other of us who is trying to sort through life, make mistakes. Our flaws are us. They’re why you’re as beautiful as you are hairy (and won’t you reconsider letting me give you the name of a nice laser removal gent?) and why I love you so. I know you’re mad. But cut that out, starting now. This was my exit. Don’t go away mad, just don’t go away (apologies to the auteur Vince Neil).
Me: I’m still here. Always and forever. Even if we only got to have one true adventure.
SFC: But it was an adventure for the fucking record books! Thrusting trepidation to the side, trespassing while traversing the tangled theme park (alliteration totally INTENDED). And we had so many more planned – the catacombs, ghost hunting, a commune and life together with the most creative and wonderful people in the world, Australia, the world, just me and my bestie.
Me: I miss you, Stacy. So terribly.
SFC: Quit it. You had me! You got me on a level that almost nobody did. And you have memories and pictures and the Story of Us, and that will never change. But missing people is what sad people do. Don’t miss me – go make more memories with people like me. People who inspire you, who believe in you, who know who you truly are (even if you keep sticking to that tall tale of you being the meanest Becky on the block, I’ll always know the truth, the whole truth, and nuthin but it).
Can I get back to the highway analogy (looks like the judges said yes) and say that when you’re racing that sporty little red Miata with the hot blonde, and she gets off at her exit, you don’t get sad. You find another car to race, a billboard to read, a guy picking his nose to make fun of. You keep driving, and you don’t stop until your GPS says (in a sultry Stacy Bot voice) “Take the next exit”.
Me: And then?
SFC: And that’s when I’ll see you. Drinks are on me.
Would you potentially be interested in a coffee table book that collects all of my and Stacy’s photos (like the ones below) from our journey through the abandoned Six Flags in New Orleans? Leave your name and email address below to be notified when more information is available:
Today’s post was brought to you by this song on repeat:
Stacy, I don’t remember exactly when or why you and I became friends.
We weren’t, then we were.
There was no gradual easing into that hot tub, testing the waters, seeing if we recoiled as our knees touched, feeling out the awkwardness and tension until we were comfortable baring it all. We just dove in, our naked souls jockeying for the best seat, immediately basking in the essence that was us. Two teabags in a cup of instant friendship. Not steeped and cured until finally ready to sip. Lipton friends. Delicious friends, with sweetness and tartness and ready for the world.
We weren’t, then we were.
There was no series of meetings or conversations during which you and I slowly realized that there was this spark and we clicked. We didn’t meet by sharing a casual laugh over a funny situation or the mutual derision of a snack food. There was no oh-you-like-this-movie-too or i-love-this-song moment. In fact, we didn’t even have the same taste in movies or music or books or art. We appreciated each other’s appreciation for different things, but our interests didn’t bring us together. Your love for the hardcore, my passion for pop; your interest in absurdity, mine in romantic optimism – we were polar opposites in many ways. But despite those divergences, friendship rocketed forward, light speed, throttles to full.
We weren’t, then we were.
What we were was more than friends. Soulfriends. Soulmates. It’s a weird phrase, but it suited us. Our first conversation was as self-referential and fulfilling as each subsequent one. Our talks were deep yet easy, hovering on the precipice of being pretentious and overthought, fascinating and too big, spanning entire universes of ideas and concepts. We were always soulmates. The world just hadn’t lined us up yet so that we could meet. Before we knew, our souls did.
We weren’t, then we were.
Today would have been your 39th birthday. We had big plans for our inevitable he laughs cynically at the concept of inevitability now fortieth birthdays. Big, grandiose, ridiculous, if we were both single at forty we would get married and build a commune of thinkers and creators and writers and artists types of plans. And you know what? It would have fucking happened. When we got together, tremendous things occurred. Mountains shifted, gods bowed on bended knees, and the unlikely became SOP. Our friendship had always been like that. That intensity – that force of nature – that Wonder Twins form of water and form of animal – it had been there from that first nanosecond.
We weren’t, then we were.
Your voodoo dolls hang in my office. Our photo hangs prominently on my wall. That smile – your smile, dives into your eyes and takes over. It’s beautiful. Everywhere I look, I see memories of you and me. The weird. The random. The non-sequiturs that made us laugh. We were always in on The Joke. But then you had to know the punchline before the rest of us.
We weren’t, then we were.
But now, when I’m foraging for humanity in the wilds of the world, and I see the odd, fucked-up absurdities that were our cornerstones, my heart hurts. No longer can I share those with you. My soul sister – the one who would appreciate them, no matter how dark, how inappropriate or how too-soon. You were the only one with whom I could share that. That was our friendship.
We weren’t, then we were.
But that’s not true anymore. There are others now. When I lost you, your other soulmates – these tendrils you connected to each of us – found me. And I found them. They’re in my life now, and we carry you in our hearts. In our thoughts. In the twisted laughs and fucked-up memes we share. Stephanie. Tom. Krystyna. Racheal. And so many more.
Stacy, it’s our commune! Of a sort. It’s the best kinds of people joined together. By you. And I will always remember exactly when and why all of us became friends.
The following is another post from a friend who wanted her story to be told but wasn’t comfortable sharing it publicly. If you have a story that you want to tell anonymously, contact me to publish it here.
Nine years old.
That’s when it started. Nine.
I still have nightmares.
I have difficulty getting to sleep.
I don’t like staying home alone anymore.
Many people don’t realize just how many of their friends or family members have actually been victims of rape or sexual abuse. My mother, grandmother, and aunt were all victims of sexual assault, abused by boyfriends or husbands. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop with them. My abuser – he never went to jail and I doubt he ever will. He wasn’t a boyfriend or a father. He wasn’t a family friend. He lived with us. He was my stepbrother – someone I trusted.
I was too young to realize anything was wrong at first. This was just what all brother/sister relationships must be like, right? It wasn’t until I started getting older that his behaviors began to feel “off”. How he wanted no one around to witness us “playing.” How he constantly stepped outside of the room to check for our parents. This began to feel wrong. All wrong. I began to get vocal with him. I was 10 or 11 when I first told him “No.” He didn’t take too well to that. His real mother let him do just about anything he wanted, so he wasn’t used to hearing no.
He would question me, “Why does it matter? Don’t you like it? Who cares if God wouldn’t approve?” I never wanted to come home after school anymore. Your home is supposed to be a place of comfort, especially for a middle schooler. Mine became a place of terror. I remember a few instances when I told him to leave me alone and he refused. Once, he chased me through the house until I was cornered and had nowhere to go. I laid down on the ground and I gave up. He was almost three years older than me, and bigger and stronger. I didn’t have a chance. There was another time when he was on top of me, and I screamed at him and threatened to call the cops if he didn’t get off of me. I was sure that he was going to rape me that day. I think I simply got lucky. Or whatever you call that choice between getting raped and “only” getting sexually abused against your will.
When I was 12, he left for a trip to visit his mother, and his mother didn’t want to send him back. I thought I was free. But when I heard my stepfather, who had legal custody, talking to my mother about getting a lawyer to bring him home, I finally grew the courage to tell them what he did. He couldn’t be allowed back. This was my chance to be safe again.
I went to my youth pastor and asked for help. He agreed and helped me tell my parents, but was also legally obligated to get the police involved. Guess how much good that did? (None.) I relived my pain over and over as I told investigator after investigator about my story. They wrote it all up in an official statement. Like that carried any weight. Then, they asked me to call him – my abuser! – to gather evidence. I did it. I didn’t want to, but what choice did I have? He wasn’t there, so putting me through that trauma was all for nothing. He was never arrested. I was depressed. Suicidal. Counseling helped, though. Really.
Not every story has a hero. I read about Brock Turner and his victim, and the two heroes who saved her from something possibly worse. Sometimes you have a hero. Sometimes you have to be your own hero. Sometimes there’s no hero and the villain goes free. My abuser will never see a prison cell for the crimes that he committed against me. I appreciate the growing awareness about the length of a prison sentence a rapist gets, but for me, it’s always about the victim. If you’re a victim, you’re not alone. You’re never alone. Talk to someone. Be your own hero, if you can.
I’m eighteen now.
I still have nightmares.
But they’re better.
Any comments that aren’t supportive or that don’t contribute to the conversation will be removed. Anyone who has a story of their own that they would like to share anonymously, please contact me to have it published.
Man, you have a great smile. Like, it’s not just a smile. It reaches your eyes and just makes me feel warm. It’s so real and genuine.
And I love how much you care. You have such a huge heart, and it shows every time you tear up watching your favorite movies.
You’ve been hurt, just like all of us, but you don’t let it make you bitter. You know that we’re all human and we’re all flawed, and you just tell yourself “It’s fine” and move on with your life. You build walls to protect yourself, but you don’t let that keep you from loving others. That’s amazing.
Sometimes you just want to escape from social media because it can get a little painful. Why are some of these people finding someone who makes them happy but you, someone who tries so hard to be a beautiful person inside and out, can’t? It feels better to just shut it down for a while and pretend that the rest of the world isn’t happy.
Here’s the thing, though, and you already know this, deep down. Happiness can’t be reliant on having someone by your side. You have to be happy on your own. The happiest you can ever be is when you’re content with your own life and fully capable of saying no to the wrong people because you don’t want to settle for something less than you deserve.
Maybe you’re whole on your own. And maybe you’ll find someone equally whole when it’s supposed to happen, and you’ll both be happy forever. Or maybe you won’t. But if you’re whole – if you’re truly whole – you’ll be okay.
People in relationships aren’t always happy. Far from it – even the best relationships have moments where one or the other will miss someone else or some past aspect of their life. And that’s how it is with single life, too. Plenty of happy moments punctuated by the times when you miss someone by your side, someone to lay with you, someone who’s always there. But then there are those great moments when you have the bed to yourself, when you can do what you want without considering anyone except yourself, and when you can lay in bed for two days without showering, watching TV, just because that’s the place you’re in right now.
Be the unapologetic, amazing, considerate, overthinking, anxious, happy, depressed, gorgeous, passionate, wonderful you that you deserve.
Be that tremendous soul and beautiful spirit that I see every time I look at you.
Love yourself like I love you. Like everyone who knows you loves you. And have a happy Valentine’s Day.
This is part of a series in which I will attempt to write something every single day of 2016. Will I be able to do it? Nope – I’ve already failed! But I’m writing at least once a week, so keep up to date on new posts by subscribing below: