Short Stories From A Long Friendship
I met Tim at a dinner party for the Riviera Gay and Lesbian Association in Nice, France in 1998. I had just moved to the Cote d’ Azur without knowing a soul, without speaking French and quite frankly without a clue. My only American friend in the entire country of France was Bill and he just happened to be the president of the Riviera Gay & Lesbian Association. I was lonely and desperate to speak English. Bill invited me (a straight southern princess) to the RGLA monthly dinner assuring me that it would be full of anglophones. He didn’t have to ask twice, I got dressed and put my lipstick on.
I was really looking forward to an evening in English. Holding the address in my hand, I wandered down the cobblestone streets of Nice’s old town. Pink, yellow and gold buildings surrounded me and made for a colorful stroll. I arrived at the restaurant and headed to Bill’s table. There was not a single woman in the group. As I took my seat, I was instantly taken by how good looking they all were. My quick inventory noted dewy complexions, pearly white teeth and perfectly sculpted bodies. If that wasn't enough, they smelled delicious. FYI - Men at my office did NOT smell delicious. I received a red carpet welcome of disarming friendliness. Each was accomplished in their field: technology, architecture, design and engineering. I am not sure why this surprised me. Had I been expecting the Village People? As we ordered our drinks, Bill announced that a New Yorker who just moved to the Riviera would be joining us. A few moments later, the New Yorker (Tim) and his friend (Neil) from Tasmania arrived. They sat right next to me. Tim and Neil were both 10 years my senior and like all the other men at the table, immaculately groomed and handsome. Before he even said hello, Neil wanted me to know right away that he hated McDonalds. From the venom in his words, I thought he might not like Americans either. Tim and I quickly moved the conversation to the topic of speaking a second language. Like me, Tim did not know French before arriving in France and was working hard with a tutor to catch up. We both had a collection of comedy routines based on our lost in translation experiences. It was a time before iPhones or Google. We could only arm ourselves with pocket dictionaries and scraps of paper. Tim joked about how he accidentally told someone he loved them. He introduced himself by saying, “Je Tim” (instead of Je suis Tim - I am Tim) which sounded a whole lot like, “J t’aime.” (French for I love you). I assured him that telling people you love them was actually a pretty great ice breaker and a charming act of diplomacy. Plus, I could beat that story. Earlier that same day, I thought I had told a room full of men in my office that I had solved a problem. Unfortunately, what I had actually said was that I started my period (which I hadn’t). The word regler in French is not for amateurs. If you say, “Le probleme est regle,” you are saying, I solved the problem. If you say, “J’ai mes regle,” you are saying “I have my period.” Oops. Ugh, it was a real Cathy Rigby moment. Anyway, by the end of the night, I had made a new friend.
Coincidentally, Tim and I discovered that we lived in the same apartment complex in Cagnes Sur Mer (12 miles from Nice). We often met for dinner or for a quick run on the Promenade des Anglais (I would run and he would rollerblade). Tim introduced me to his friends and I introduced him to mine. It wasn’t long before we had a nice group of Riviera buddies that hung out on a regular basis.
A few months after Tim and I met, he moved to the town of Nice. Living in Cagnes sur Mer was like living in the suburbs and way too lame for Tim. I, on the other hand, liked Cagnes sur Mer. I felt safe in its relaxed family atmosphere.
Tim moved through life in first class and his new penthouse apartment in a private mansion called the Palais Royal fit him just perfectly. The Palais Royal was a stunning Belle Epoque style manor right out of a movie sitting at the bottom of Rue Cimiez. Rue Cimiez was famous for its beautiful architecture, panoramic views of the Mediterranean, the Alps and the city of Nice. It had also been the home of residents like Henri Matisse, Queen Victoria and now Tim.
To reach his apartment on the 4th floor, you had the choice of walking up 4 flights of marble stairs or boarding a small bird cage for humans that the French tried to pass as an elevator. The elevator freaked me out. It was literally a human size cage suspended from a single cable in the middle of the building. If you lost your footing during dismount at the top, you were French toast. I always opted for the stairs. On the front side of the apartment were floor to ceiling windows with beautiful wooden shutters that dramatically opened onto small balconies with wrought iron railings. Each time I visited, I would run to these windows and open and close them vigorously shouting, “Egoiste! Egoiste!” Tim was living in a Chanel commercial. I spent many minutes of my life looking out those windows, soaking in the sun, counting the palm trees in the yard and thanking God that I had moved to France. We were lucky.
Across the street from the Palais Royal was a wine shop called Cave Royale. Each Friday after work, Tim and I attended their wine tasting classes. We became really good friends with the owner, Jacques, who loved practicing his English with us. Jacques knew how to use humor to put his clients at ease while remaining faithful to his French superiority. His wine recommendations to us would go something like this, “This wine is magnificent. If you drink it with a cheeseburger, I will kill you.” The tastings were a good place to practice our French with nice people while learning about wine. During one tasting, Tim and I were having a conversation in French with a lady and her daughter. Right off the bat, the woman had told Tim she recognized him, but couldn’t remember from where exactly. We proceeded on to how her daughter wanted to visit New York. Suddenly, the mom said to Tim, “Je suis ton pharmacien.” (I am your pharmacist.) She had finally figured out how she knew him. Tim kept talking about something else entirely and I knew he had no idea what she had just said. She kept repeating it slowly to him, “Je suis ton pharmacien. Je suis ton pharmacien. Je suis ton pharmacien.” I decided that I better help him out. “She’s your pharmacist,” I said to Tim. We all exploded in a quick burst of laughter. Making an ass of yourself daily is part of the fun of being a foreigner. Having a good friend to laugh with you that gets it is priceless. My French wasn’t better than Tim’s French. At that moment, I had just been a better listener.
When my parents came to visit, I introduced them to Tim. We all had dinner at the Modern Art Museum in Nice, which was one of our favorite hang outs. As the waiter brought our dinner to the table, my mother’s eyes got wide. Her sea bass was a bit fresher than she expected. He was cooked, but his little eyeballs were staring into the night and he stuck his tongue out at her when she put her fork in him. My mom asked the table at large if anyone was good at filleting a fish. Tim, who I swear can do anything, came to the rescue and filleted the fish. Even though we had both attended several wine classes, Tim was our sommelier as he chooses delicious wines every time without fail. My parents loved him right away. My mother asked me again and again, “How do you know he is gay?” “How do you know he is gay?” “How do you know he is gay?” She asked me so many times I eventually became exasperated and said, “He f$#*s men.” This was way too harsh of an explanation to have laid on my parents. I do not think my parents had much experience being around openly gay people at the time. They also not so secretly wished Tim could have been my boyfriend. As they got to know him better, they totally got it and knew how lucky I was to have a friend like Tim.
Shortly after my parents left, my brother, Matt, and a few of his best friends arrived for a visit. Being able to share my life in paradise with my childhood entourage felt wonderful. They enjoyed everything and complained about nothing. They were the best of guests. We had made plans to meet Tim for dinner in Nice. Earlier that day, I took the entire group on a tour of the old town. As the dinner hour grew closer, we headed to the parking garage to get our car. After all that walking, I was about to die for something to drink and we stopped for a little refreshment on our way to the car. With a big diet coke in one hand, my purse in the other and some black sassy platform sandals, I lead my crew down the stairs. Before I could even say, “Suivez moi”, I slipped on something and fell down an entire flight. I landed very hard on my derriere. I tried to get up and when I did, I fainted. Matt and my brother’s friend Scott carried me back up the stairs and into the main square. Luckily, Matt is fluent in French and was able to get some help. Within a few moments an ambulance came. I had already regained consciousness, but the medic wanted me to get an x-ray to make sure that I hadn’t broken anything. My brother got in the ambulance with me and off we went to Hopital Saint Roch. Just before we left, I gave my friend, Jeff, Tim’s number so he could call and explain the situation. Jeff is a journalist and took communications very seriously. A message from Jeff might have made the situation sound a bit more dire than it actually was.
The hospital wouldn’t let anyone come back with me to the examination area. I waved goodbye to Matt and was wheeled into a large room almost like a gymnasium except that it had very chic wall finishes and an ornate ceiling. Wall to wall hospital beds filled with patients lined the room. I knew I was going to have to wait a very long time. Not even 5 minutes after the nurse put the brake on my gurney, the front doors swung open and in came a distinguished gentlemen wearing horn rimmed glasses and an expensive Italian suit. Dr. Marino, a respected neurologist, was one of Tim’s boyfriends. Tim had sent him over the minute he got the voicemail saying that I had fallen down a flight of stairs. You would have thought I was Madonna, if you had seen how much attention I received after Dr. Marino’s arrival. I felt bad for all the patients waiting. I got my x-ray immediately and my exam by a very overqualified surgeon. I was back at my apartment receiving sympathy and sipping Champagne with my guests in no time.
While living in Europe, I wanted to travel as much as possible. Boyfriends were too complicated on trips and most of my girlfriends did not have the freedom I did to travel. Tim and I proved to be compatible travel companions. The two of us had already seen most of Europe, but there were still a few spots on our list. We planned a trip to Amsterdam for Halloween weekend.
Our first day in Amsterdam, we visited the Vincent Van Gogh Museum, The Red Light district and a few galleries. As the lunch hour approached, we headed across Vondelpark where several teams of men were playing soccer. I asked Tim if we could go around the fields instead of through them. I explained that I was the type of person that would inevitably get hit by the ball if we walked between these two games. Tim rang out his signature single note of laughter. He didn’t believe me. Against my wishes, we walked between the two fields. Tim and I discussed where we would go to celebrate Halloween. Suddenly, I was slapped in the face by a soccer ball traveling at great speed. I had known it was going to happen. I rested my head in my hands in embarrassment, pain and annoyance. Luckily, my misfortune paid off. This is how we met some locals and found out the best place to go for a Halloween party. The soccer team recommended a bar called The Ghetto. The owners of the bar were brothers: one straight and one gay. Tim and I would fit right in.
After lunch, we returned to our hotel to get in costume. Tim and I had decided to dress up as French Beatniks. My costume included a pink beret, sixties sunglasses and a purple skirt with an Eiffel Tower applique. Tim’s outfit consisted of a navy blue turtleneck, mustache, black beret and cigarette. We channeled Brigitte Bardot and Serge Gainsbourg as we hit the Leidseplein.
The Ghetto was all that our friends had reported it to be. Everyone was welcome here and I believe everyone was there. The bar was body to body with all kinds of people in brilliantly executed costumes. We saw our soccer buddies and made quite a few new friends over the evening. We partied till around midnight and headed back to the hotel.
Our last day in Amsterdam, we decided to do what you are supposed to do when visiting Amsterdam. We were going to smoke pot. I am not a pot smoker. Previous to my trip to Amsterdam, I had only tried it once in college and it really didn’t do anything for me. I guess I didn’t inhale. I had really never seen the point of it and the pot heads I knew were no ringing endorsement. However, When in Amsterdam! We chose a coffee bar called the Bulldog for obvious reasons (University of Georgia mascot). “Coffee bars” in Amsterdam are places that sell marijuana. I couldn’t make heads or tails of the menu. The Marijuana varieties were names like Purple Haze, White Widow, Dessert Bud, Northern Lights and Plain Old Grass. Luckily, Tim knew what to buy. He always knew a little something about everything. Marijuana was no exception. Our plan was to have a drink, smoke a little pot and then head over to the movie theater where the new Austin Powers movie in English was playing. We rarely got to see movies in English. This would be a treat.
Weed in Amsterdam is strong. People told me this before my trip and now I am telling you. After I took a few hits, I began to feel it. I tried to tell Tim a joke and couldn’t make it to the punchline. I attempted to tell that joke for the better part of an hour. We laughed and laughed. The bar was playing Bob Marley videos on all their big screens. This caused me to ask Tim 100 questions one after another about dreadlocks to which he replied, “Do I look like I have a PHD in dreadlocks?” We laughed and laughed and laughed some more. This time, I had inhaled.
A little before the movie was about to start, Tim and I left the bar to head over to the theater. We went in and bought our tickets and proceeded to the Ticket Man behind the little ticket stand. We handed Ticket Man our tickets, he looked at them and paused. Next, he said something to us in Dutch,”Tijds verandering.” This was strange because everyone in Amsterdam speaks perfect english and not a single person had tried to speak to us in Dutch during our entire trip. I asked him if he spoke English. He did not. Tim asked him if he spoke French? He did not. Ticket Man kept looking at us repeating the same phrase in Dutch. In order to help us understand, the Ticket Man started making charades type motions. He would take his finger in the air and turn it in a circle counterclockwise while he was repeating, “Tijds verandering.” Exasperated, Ticket Man pointed to my watch and did the same motion with his fingers. ”Tijds verandering” ”Tijds verandering” He repeated. We had no idea what the hell he was trying to tell us and we were beginning to get tickled. Finally, the Ticket Man, this unicorn of Amsterdam who didn’t speak English got out the following two words: ”Time Change!” The Fall time change had happened that day unbeknownst to Cheech and Chong. We were an hour early for the movie. OMG. We nearly peed ourselves as we were bent over in sustained side splitting laughter. As soon as we could recover, we went to a nearby restaurant to eat something and get our act together. An hour later, at the right time, we returned to the theater and enjoyed the movie. The next morning, we headed back to France with our watches on correct time and some great memories in our suitcase.
Not long after Amsterdam, Tim and I faced another matter of time. As the year 2000 approached, our time on the Riviera was coming to an end. We both received our walking papers back to the United States. Tim was headed back to New York and I was reluctantly returning to Atlanta. I had unsuccessfully tried to get jobs in Sydney, Australia and San Francisco before finally accepting a job in Atlanta. Two months after I was back in Atlanta, something wonderful happened. An opportunity to move to New York fell in my lap. I jumped on it.
Like moving to France, I was once again going somewhere that I knew little to nothing about. I had always wanted to live in New York, but had only visited once as a teenager. Tim was my concierge. He helped me negotiate a big time salary, a fabulous apartment and secure footing in a town known for eating southern belles like me for breakfast.
Of all our adventures together in the city, one of my favorites took place just outside of Manhattan. I refer to this infamous weekend as My Big Gay Birthday. Tim had invited me to celebrate my 36th birthday at his beach house in The Pines on Fire Island. The Pines is famous for its gay community, its beautiful and pristine beaches as well as its lack of commercialism. There are books, poems, songs, stand-up routines, TV shows and even plays written about this iconic gay paradise. As a straight person, I knew I was lucky to have the opportunity to experience it.
To get to the Pines, I took the Long Island Railroad about two hours to Sayville, New York. I got off the train and hopped on the $3 shuttle to the ferry. Happily on the boat with Long Island in the rear view and a pleasant sea breeze on my face, I crossed the Great South Bay.
As the ferry approached the docks, we were welcomed by no less than 100 men waving in tank tops lining the entire side of the port at a little bar having what they call Low Tea (happy hour). Tim was there to pick me up rolling a little red wagon behind him.
There is only one grocery store in The Pines, so that’s where we headed for provisions. As soon as we entered the front doors of the Pines Pantry a woman shouted, “Tim Williams, I want to have your baby!” It was Tim’s friend Colleen who worked the checkout. She was the first woman I had seen since leaving Sayville. Obviously, there were many people in the world that loved Tim Williams. However, Coleen’s expression of it was the best I’d heard. As we strolled down each aisle, Tim greeted every worker and shopper. After our little red wagon was full, we checked out and headed next door to the liquor store.
The Pines Liquor Shop was owned by two brothers. I immediately noticed that they were straight. They were the only men on the island not wearing tank tops and they noticed me as I entered like only two straight dudes can. The Brothers immediately started a conversation with us and filled me in on their mission statement. These interesting, smart and savvy entrepreneurs only opened their shop during the summer and traveled all over the world for the rest of the year learning about wines for their store. A man that had been browsing overheard our conversation and noticed my accent. He asked me where I was from. “Atlanta, GA” I answered. “Me too,” he said. “What part of town?” he asked. “I am from Fayetteville,” I said. “That is NOT Atlanta,” he said with a big snarky eye roll. Pointing out that Fayetteville is not considered the Atlanta area is the equivalent of a Manhattan snob pointing out that people from the suburbs of New Jersey are NOT from New York City. Oh no he didn’t. My fangs came out and I sarcastically replied, “Only a Queen from Atlanta would say that.” I held my breath until I heard him laugh. I made another friend.
There are no streets on The Pines and no cars. Only emergency and delivery vehicles were allowed and they were restricted to a singular sand pathway which hardly qualified as a road. All the boys get around by a highway of wooden boardwalks that connect the neighborhoods to the port and the beaches. As you enter the little neighborhoods, the boardwalk wanders through modern homes made out of wood and glass. The houses are built to blend into the landscape of pine and holly trees, seagrass and bamboo.
Tim rolled the red wagon and I rolled my suitcase down the boardwalk to his house. Each group of men that we passed knew Tim and stopped to talk to us. Tim has been going to The Pines for as long as I have known him. He could have run for local office if he had wanted. Every person I met would initially delight in my name (Hiii, Laura Loving!), then at my accent (I was referred to as Suzanne Sugarbaker by one person) and every encounter seemed to end with an invitation to their house for cake. I am not kidding. Three different groups had invited us over for cake. As soon as we were alone, I asked Tim if cake was code for something else? I thought it might be some kind of gay drug lingo. “Nope” Tim said. “These guys are just really into baking.”
We finally arrived at Tim’s corner of the boardwalk - Sun Walk. We turned the corner and I swear I saw Anderson Cooper and Kurt Russell sunning themselves in front of a house. Alan was Tim’s next door neighbor and Anderson Cooper’s doppelganger. Alan’s best friend Mark looked just like Kurt Russell in his 30s. They were funny, engaging, and extremely playful. Like everyone else I met that day, they immediately hooked on to my name and sang it out like a song, “Laura Loving? Laura Loving! I love your name Laura Loving. Nice to meet you Laura Loving. See you around Laura Loving.” I felt an instant connection with them and referred to them as Anderson and Kurt in return. It just seemed like the right thing to do.
Tim and I put our stuff down and relaxed for a bit. We were going to dinner and then on to the Sip and Twirl (The Pines disco). I could not get over that genius name - Sip and Twirl. I got dressed in casual beach chic with my hair in a slicked back bun on top of my head. We left Tim’s house and as soon as we got onto the boardwalk, I heard a window forcefully slide open. “Ohhhhhhh. I love your hair like that Laura Loving,” Kurt Russell shouted out from his kitchen window. “Thanks Kurt. Hope I see you at the Sip and Twirl.” I desperately wanted Kurt as my next door neighbor in real life.
Dinner and the Sip and Twirl were fun. We danced until it got too crowded and I started to feel like a 3rd wheel to about 200 men. We headed back to Tim’s place to hit the hay so we could go to the beach in the morning.
The Beach was the first place I encountered something that made me feel uncomfortable. Tim and I were walking down the wide beautiful beaches of The Pines on the way to meet friends for a picnic. We walked for about 10 minutes when Tim looked at me and just whispered, “Prepare yourself.” I looked up and about 10 feet away from where I was standing was the Brawny man wearing nothing but tattoos and piercings. Nothing else! He greeted Tim and my presence did not phase him. Tim introduced me and I struggled to make eye contact only. I worked really hard not to look anywhere else. Of course I saw everything. I wanted to get away from this situation and its huge penis as quickly as I possibly could. Their polite conversation was moving at a snail's pace. I couldn’t think of anything appropriate to add. “Did it hurt to get that metal loop shot through your fine arts? Do you work in an office? Are you up to date with your shots?” were some the things moving through my mind to ask. I was so uncomfortable that my fight or flight was kicking in and I almost just bolted away without explanation. Finally, I was rescued by the end of the conversation and we moved forward.
The Brawny encounter did a number on me, I was talking 100 miles a minute as we moved down the beach to our picnic. “I hope these next dudes wear clothes,” I said to Tim and I wasn’t joking. Tim’s friends Patrick and Barry were a couple. I was happy to see that they were wearing super cute bathing suits and of course, tank tops. You could tell by the perfect execution of our picnic how well they worked together as a team. I asked Patrick if he had been at The Sip and Twirl last night. He playfully responded,”I wasn’t there,” (short pause) “but Paige Turner was.” “Who is Paige Turner?” I asked. Tim interjected,”That is Patrick’s drag name.” LOL. These guys were drag queens. I would never have guessed. Barry had the best drag name: Hellofa Bottom Carter. I loved the way these men had their alter egos that they would take on at night. Patrick was an accountant at a big firm in Manhattan and Barry was a lawyer. However, on Saturday night, Paige Turner and Hellofa Bottom Carter were the Queens of Fire Island!
On Sunday, we rolled my big suitcase back down the boardwalk to the port. I waved goodbye to Kurt Russell and Anderson Cooper. I thanked Paige Turner and Hellofa Bottom Carter for a wonderful picnic and gave Tim a big hug for a fun and wonderful birthday weekend. I boarded the ferry and headed straight back to the city.
A few years later, somewhere around my 38th birthday, I decided I wanted to get married and have a family. When you get married, many friendships don’t survive this transition to your next phase of life. Some friendships end because your friend doesn’t like your partner, some end because your new status as hitched is not compatible with single life and I am sure there are a million other reasons as well...not Tim! Our friendship survived. However, when I got pregnant I thought: this will be it. Tim will never visit me again and he will never ever invite me over again. Tim did not hate children, but I wouldn’t say that they were his favorite genre of humans. I had once been at lunch with Tim in a diner when he shared that he didn’t think kids should be allowed in restaurants. I have been with Tim on a plane when a little boy behind us kicked and kicked his chair and it about threw him over the edge. One occasion, I heard Tim suggest a mother give her kid a little baby Xanax to remedy a tantrum. I knew the sands in our hour glass of friendship were in danger with a baby on the way.
When Stella was born, my husband Peter took off one week from work. My parents came to stay with me the second week. That third Monday, my parents got on a plane to Atlanta and Peter left to go to work. I would be on my own for the most part for the next three months until our nanny started. New York is a busy place and people don’t just take off work in the middle of the week to come over to help you or see your baby. They are too busy working and trying to make enough money to live in this crazy place. It was a very cold February with lots of snow. I was stuck in our tiny dark apartment with a newborn that wanted to nurse every 2 hours. I was headed for the insane asylum, but guess who came to visit me weekly and have dinner with Stella and I? Tim Williams. Tim, who didn’t really have an affinity for children and possibly even suffered from an allergy to children, would come over to my house every Thursday for dinner. We’d order in and talk like normal human beings and he would hold and watch Stella while I did a few things like breathe air, go to the bathroom, or take out the garbage. Luckily, Stella and Tim bonded and once again our friendship made it over another hurdle.
In October of this same year, Stella had just turned 9 months old and we were getting ready for Halloween. Mother nature had different plans for New York City. There would be no Halloween this year as Hurricane Sandy was headed our way. I have to say that I was a bit nervous as I had never been in a hurricane before, much less with a little baby. As the entire city started to prepare, so did we. First, I made my husband go with Stella and I to do a photoshoot in Stella’s first ever Halloween costume. She was a tulip. Next, I made a list and my husband Peter went on several shopping trips so we would be prepared. We gathered all the flashlights that my dad had given us over the years (we even had one that strapped on your head like a miner). We bought batteries and a wind-up radio. We were ready. As a fun distraction, we did our own version of trick or treat with our neighbor Karen’s grandchildren. They ranged in age from 5 to 8 years old and Stella was so excited to be around them. When we lost electricity, we had fun sharing our flashlights and playing games in the hallway. I didn’t want Stella near our windows, so that is where we hung out for most of the night. We went to sleep with howling winds, no electricity, no heat and the temperature dropping.
When we woke up, our apartment was cold and dark. The emergency lighting in the building was on and people were starting to get out to check the damage. The landline nor our cell phones would work. We gathered our phones and charger, dressed the baby, got the stroller and headed out to see what was up and tell everyone we were ok. It was amazing to see some of the delis starting to open. They had generators and were making coffee and breakfast for the people of the neighborhood. Nothing, not even a hurricane can kill capitalism in NYC. There was some flooding in Greenwich Village, but not in our area. We only saw a few trees and signs down. There was no electricity or cell service and the subways were flooded and closed. With no electricity, the thought of staying in our cold apartment with no phone and a baby was starting to feel ominous. We walked a couple of blocks to Union Square. Everyone we saw that morning said that it was the only place cell phones would work. The minute I turned on my phone, there were 10 missed calls and a few voicemails from my parents. We called them first. My mother answered the phone in mid-sentence, “Tim has already called us to say that if we get a hold of you first, we should tell you can go stay with him until the electricity comes on.” She already knew that there was no power, no heat or cell service in my neighborhood. “We can’t go to Tim’s house,” I said. “Why not?” my mother asked. “I can’t take a baby into that immaculately clean, designed and organized home with expensive everything everywhere.” My husband gruffly interjected,”Yes we can. This is an emergency.” I called Tim back just to make sure it would be ok and that he had really thought about it. I told him that I would bring a tarp for Stella to play on so that nothing would get on his new rug from ABC Carpet. We went home and packed up our stuff. We looked like a moving circus. We had a portable crib, diaper bag, diapers, breast pump and the list goes on. There were no taxis to be had. Luckily, our neighbor Karen had a car and said she would take us to the Upper West Side.
When we arrived on Riverside Drive, Tim was there with a smile on. He didn’t even notice the circus coming his way and get this, he let us take over his bedroom...what a prince! Surely, we'll only be there overnight I thought. As we listened to the news over dinner, they reported that the electricity might not come on for an entire week. Gulp. We took it one day at a time. It was amazing how the Upper West Side seemed to have missed the hurricane entirely. Looking out the window onto Riverside Park, we didn’t see even so much as a tree down. Peter went to work the next morning while Stella and I enjoyed the fruits of the Upper West Side like electricity, heat and a variety of shops and restaurants open to the public. Tim’s company was all working from home that week due to the storm. After Tim’s conference call, we headed out for lunch and fun in the hood. We ended up going to get pedicures. I couldn’t believe that Stella happily just hung out in my lap the entire time talking to everyone in the salon. We had gone from no electricity or heat to the Ritz Carlton and pedicures. Stella seemed to just know that she needed a different level of behavior at Tim’s house. She didn’t destroy or hurt anything. She happily played on her playmat without any fuss. One week from the day we arrived, the electricity came back on in the lower half of Manhattan. We packed our bags and managed to leave without so much as a scratch to anything. We even had fun. I was beyond grateful for not having to stay in that dark hole for a week with a baby. Stella knows about that rescue and can tell you about it. I know that she doesn’t really remember it, but she remembers the stories, the pictures and the love.
Tim is the first friend I made as an adult. He is the Will to my Grace, the Rupert Everett to my Madonna and the Harry Potter to my Hermione Granger. Our friendship is full of adventure, conversation, laughter and an ever constant show of reciprocal support.
You know how Oprah says to only hang out with people who bring you up, people who are not jealous of you, people who can remind you of who you are and only want the best for you? Check, check, check and check. Tim is all that and a bag of chips (maybe dark chocolate chips from France mind you, never anything as pedestrian as a potato chip).
I know it can be taxing to be my closest friend. As an artist, I am constantly electrified with a surge of ideas and creativity that I have to figure out what to do with. Friends of artists have to patiently listen and participate in our madness. Tim has been that friend for me again and again. Tim has actively listened to me read everything I have ever written. He has looked at and studied just about every painting I have ever painted. He helped me launch my art career, negotiate contracts, fillet fish, find apartments, resolve life’s great dilemmas and rearrange furniture. If that wasn’t enough, the dude has rescued me on more occasions than I can count. I can’t think of anything I can’t ask him. I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t do for him and I can’t imagine what my life would be like without him. I have no idea if I hold up my side of the bargain equally as well, but just knowing Tim makes me want to be the best friend I can possibly be.
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