Back by popular demand- Dating Stories. This is actually more of an homage to one man I dated who became a really great friend. I will call him “M”.
In this post I am going way back to my college years as a dangerously energetic and naive Art Major at VCU. It is 1984(?). The obsession of my young adult life, a man I will refer to as Lord Byron- LB for short, had unceremoniously dumped me the day after he has told me he wants our relationship to be exclusive. This was a fairly major event because we shared an almost psychic connection. The sexual and intellectual attraction between me & LB was so palpable that when we walked into a public space together, people would stop talking and turn to stare. We were young, good-looking people with magnetic energy that when combined, was simply arresting.
During the 24 hours in between the incongruent events of my heart leaping to new heights as I blissfully dreamt of eternal happiness with the most gorgeous, sensual, exotic and darkly interesting man I had yet met and the emotional equivalent of having my heart and dreams smashed to a bloody pulp like what remains after an arctic hunter bludgeons a big eyed baby seal, I had given my other boyfriend, Snarky Ass Artist (SAA), his walking papers.
It was all quite inconvenient because LB and I worked at the same place so despite the break-up we saw each other almost everyday.
After a month or so post devastation, I got back with SAA and moved in with him. We spent a broiling RVA summer in his cockroach infested, un-airconditioned, railroad apartment. As the summer sweltered on,SAA formulated a plan to move to California rather than return to school.
So at the end of August a bunch of friends and I throw a farewell party for SAA. At some point during the revelry I decide to walk to a bodega a half block down the street to pick up a few bottles of champagne. As I zwoosh past the cash register to the refrigerated section as if on a mission from god, I call back to the spritely guy behind the counter, “I want six bottles of the best champagne you have. Do you have any cold?” His response, “I don’t know where you are going but wherever it is, I want to come along.” That was how I met “M”.
I went back to that store three or four more times that night and by the end of his shift, I had invited M to join the party. The next day I took SAA to DC to catch his flight to San Fran and cried all night feeling abandoned and untethered. In the morning M rang and invited me over to soak in the baby pool in his back yard (a popular thing for college students in Richmond in August at the time – the river was too warm to be refreshing but a baby pool filled with cold hose water was rejuvenating) where he offered me cocktails to remove the sting from my aching heart/ego and cucumber slices for my swollen red eyes. He listened patiently to my story of the previous months, about my soul crushing love for LB and my sadness of SAA leaving while periodically donning my eyelids with fresh cucumber slices and filling my glass with more frozen margarita.
The next day when I arrived at work, one of my sister co-workers discovered a long rectangular box tied with a fat yellow silk bow in the cold storage where we kept french pastries. “The card says they are for you,”she squealed looking directly at me. M, knowing that LB worked with me, had sent two dozen long-stem yellow roses to the workplace and had delivered them when LB would have been the only person to receive them. It was a wonderful moment as there was quite a bit of excitement generated by a bouquet of expensive flowers amongst a gaggle of young women and LB looked a bit chagrinned.
This is just one of a dozen stories of M’s generosity. Always a nurturer and ready to shed some sunshine on anyone’s rainy day, M is an extraordinary person (we are still friends). He is constantly doing nice things for people. And to the soundtrack of Dire Straights, Brian Ferry, Prince and Big Audio Dynamite we have had many adventures -like a hilarious road trip to his family home, nights on the town in Manhattan, days lounging on the rocks in the James River, and just generally being there for each other through the tough times. He helped me find a place to stay when I first moved to New York, introduced me to his cool artist friends, helped me to get my first real job out of college, threw me a birthday bash for my 50th, and lent me money and an understanding ear at a low point in my life.
Through all the years I have known him he has always been: in love with his high-school sweetheart even though there have been other women in his life; plagued by addiction to drama and a variety of substances; possessed a penchant for obsession from orchids to jewelry making; loved everyone with his whole heart yet peppered himself with potshots of self-depreciating humor; been dangerously charming, clever and glib; had amazing good taste in all things; and generally been one of the luckiest blokes you might ever meet.
But probably the most impressive thing about M is that he is a survivor. His childhood and young adulthood, though privileged, contained the kind of tragedy that would turn anyone into a bitter, hater type yet somehow, M survived and is able to love people powerfully.
Thank you, M, for being complicated, adorable,extreme, funny, supportive and an absolute love. It is an honor to call you my friend. Holding you and your family in the light.