When I was growing up, I never knew a Laurie.
That was, I never knew a Laurie until Louisa May Alcott introduced me to a certain man named Theodore Lawrence, and then I knew a Laurie. He was a man, and a fictional character, but I saw him as real. Something real, but unattainable and intangible. I always thought Jo was an idiot for refusing his proposal of love and marriage. I finally saw Laurie in the form of Peter Lawford in the film, but he wasn't who I pictured as a real Laurie. His was too stuffy, too earnest, too movie icon, too snobby. I had to find a better Laurie somewhere.
After that Laurie, though, I never met another one when I was a kid. Honest.
The only Laur-like name in my life was a Lauren, but she was born when I was about 14. There were no Lauries in my childhood neighborhood. There were Marys, and Katies, and Maggies, and Sheilas, and Jennifers, and Colleens, and Tonis even, but no Lauries. Not one to be found anywhere.
Grade school, high school, and college passed in much the same manner. Lots of Jennifer. Many variations on Katie. But not a single Laurie.
I finally graduated from grad school, spent a year on Monster.com (AKA "Purgatory"), got my first job, and one of my coworkers was named Lauri. Not the same name exactly, but she was nice enough. She took me out to lunch and gave me cigarettes when I wanted to bum one, and I did that whole "I like the name Lauri because I get a great connotation with the name, liking this coworker and all" thing. You know you all do it. You hear a name, and if it's a name you've encountered before, you will have a good or a bad memory from the person who shared that name last, and ever after, you either love the name or you loathe it. So, thanks to my coworker, Lauri was a good enough name in my book.
Then I found that the Internet offered many, many means for distraction and procrastination. I found Slate, which begat Television Without Pity (nee Mighty Big TV, I was one of the ones who came on after the whole Aaron Sorkin vs. Rick Cleveland debacle). Then MBTV begat Damn Hell Ass Kings, and that finally begat ThreeWay Action.
I don't remember when I started posting on there. I tried searching once actually, and the two oldest posts under my name were in the Sex and the Entertainment threads. This surprises no one, including myself. It must have been about porn and about movie trivia, because at the time we were finishing up our databases at work, and I felt pretty knowledgeable on both subjects.
I started out by making myself lurk as much as possible on the various 3WA boards. I had seen the way trolls and newbies were treated at MBTV, and I didn't want to make a fool out of myself so early in the game by posting something ridiculous. And while lurking, I noticed something.
This bulletin board was different. The people who posted unquestionably cared about one another and enjoyed each other's company. I realized that this was no ordinary Internet community. And the way I found out was because of Laurie.
I don't know when I first started encountering her posts, but I do know when I realized that she was sick, or at least had been very sick. This was towards the end of her first round, but months before Larry and Shemp were discovered. This woman had kicked cancer's ASS! It was amazing! Everyone genuinely cared about her. No one fawned over her, no one treated her any different from the next poster on the thread. She was simply sick, but it wasn't getting her, or her friends, down in the least.
So, I started searching her posts, and I found through the posts the story of how she had faced and was facing her health problems head-on. I remember being very electrified by her writing style and her manner; here was this lady who was sometimes sick and still was Kicking Cancer's Ass, and she was hysterical about it.
Laurie could have turned tail and given up, never to be seen on 3WA again, but she didn't. Instead she was snarky, and absurd, and direct about any question that was asked of her. She could have been mean to other posters (trolls notwithstanding), and had a short temper and railed at anyone whenever she felt like it. But she didn't.
Instead, she was gracious and supportive of other posters to a fault, always willing to be the first in line to toot another person's horn when she had the chance.
And when her health appeared to be worsening, and her life began taking on even more difficulties, she could have whined, "Pity me and pay attention to ME, for lo, I am ill and my life SUCKS." But she didn't.
Instead, she explained bravely and succinctly to all exactly what was happening to her, never ever once asking anyone to feel sorry for her.
Instead, she welcomed questions, she welcomed out-of-town visitors, she (without coming out and saying it) had us all welcome her mother into the 3WA fold.
Instead, she put her life out there for us all to live with her. Correction: She DOES live out her life with us.
She IS a defiant warrior, accepting us all as foot soldiers in her battle. And she has a limitless capacity to live. And to love.
Case in point. Laurie sent me a private message a few days ago. I had sent her one earlier, thanking her for opening her life up for me to witness and for accepting me into 3WA so readily. And I told her that I did love her. I truly did. I truly do.
She wrote back, "Well, you've just found a little spot in my heart and moved into it, and when I care about someone, I think they need to know it! I'm having a blast getting to know you, and I'm glad we're friends."
I guess now the point is that it doesn't matter how I found 3WA in the first place. The point is that it's brave and warm and tender people like her who make me come back. And it's why I will always love the name Laurie.
I'm glad that after all these years, I finally know a Laurie. Guess I just had to wait to meet the right one.