Rebecca (Scott) Ridings’ parking holes

Everyone deserves the kind of friend you can have a dozen inside jokes with that make no sense to anyone but each of you and no matter how much time passes, you always instantly remember the reference. Those kinds of friends are exceedingly rare. By my count I have five and now, after yesterday, I have four.

Becca Scott was in my graduating class from Salem High School. She had a wickedly twisted sense of humor that overlapped nicely with mine. I woke up early this morning and thought about how ridiculously hard she laughed when a bunch of doughy, drunk white guys started rolling over the hood of my car as we waited in traffic to leave an Aerosmith concert. It was a hot summer day and these guys, leaving while it was dusk, just started rolling across the driveway and right over my car. Like a deer being hit by blinding headlights in slow motion. I still don’t know if she was laughing at them or me.

Just a mere week ago I reminisced about the drive up to that concert when Becca, in the passenger seat, looked over at me driving that car and said in instant astonishment, “WAIT. Do you not have cruise control?”

“No, why?” I asked. Cruise control seemed incredibly new-fangled to me in 2005.

“WAIT. You mean you’ve been HOLDING YOUR FOOT LIKE THAT THIS WHOLE TIME?”

“Yes?”

I think Becca was not only amused at the fact I did not have cruise control but that I was also able to hold the car so consistently at the same speed for two hours.

On another concert trip, this time to Churchill Downs to see The Rolling Stones, we went bumming around the area looking for parking. If you’ve not been to Churchill Downs, it, like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, has a considerable residential neighborhood around it where people rent out their driveways and lawns on event days.

“Maybe we should use one of these parking holes,” she said, wistfully looking out the passenger window at some guy’s yard.

“Becca?”

“Yes?”

“What the hell is a ‘parking hole’?”

She said it with as much conviction as if she needed to go to the store for a dozen eggs and so calmly that she herself seems to have believed “parking spots” were, matter of factly, called “parking holes.”

We’d never forgotten any of those moments, among others. I could walk into Mrs. Howey’s Psych 1 classroom right now and point to precisely where she, Heather (McDaniel) Law, and I sat. I remember no one else in that room, but I remember that.

Heather, myself, and Becca, looking approximately 8 years old in London.
Heather, myself, and Becca, looking approximately 8 years old in London.

Then there are the innumerable experiences from our shared trip following graduation with Heather, Ian Hartsook, Heather Mannely, and our (then) former theatre teacher Shenan Campbell to London and Paris. A singular life-changing event I suspect for all of us at the age of 17/18. I’m sure if, given time, Heather, Becca, and I would have made that trip again someday as adults with our spouses.

Alas, someday does not come. Only death.

Rebecca Ridings died suddenly yesterday, March 21, 2024. She had been undergoing a series of medical procedures for this ailment and that, but my last message from her — which remains stunningly high in my list of recent iMessages — on March 9 said she was “Doing…fine. Taking things day by day.”

In retrospect, I’m not even sure she knew whether I was talking about her physical health or mental health. This was mere days after she had buried her mother who also died suddenly a few weeks ago. I’m not even sure I know whether I was asking about her physical health or mental health.

Becca’s death is not just shocking to me, it’s a chilling reminder that tomorrow is not guaranteed. We of course understand that academically. But it’s something you say, not something you internalize. But like the drops of water in the ocean, we are all free to move just as our close friend circles has, and we may, from time to time, come up to shine on the highest waves or be driven down to the sternest depths. And despite hopeful signs, death cometh after all. I will miss her deeply.


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About JUSTIN HARTER

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