Like always, as I wind down this Old Year, I’m mindful of all the wonderful friends and lovers in my life. Of course, many of them have gone to their rewards, but they still live on in me. Fortunately, some from my past still live on in fact.
Just the other day I phoned Cookie, a high school neighbor friend in Arkansas, and we happily reported that we’re both still kicking, though as she said, not very high. She married my best friend in junior high, who deceased several years ago. My best friend in high school was Dennis, and we’ve been in loose touch again since our 50th Reunion back in 2010. After the Navy, he married and, like Cookie, made a full life in those woods I left behind in 1960. I visited them a year or so ago and hope to do so again this spring coming.
Lasting friends from New Orleans were fewer than one might think, given my social history there. Those still kicking are actually women friends. I’ve never “dated” a girl—just “went out” with them. Gorgeous blonde Jane and I spent most nights in La Casa de los Marinos dancing mad merengues—or resting in the Gin Mill a few blocks away, and saw countless dazed dawns over Decatur Street. She now lives in San Miguel de Allende and visited with me in Santa Fe some years ago. We email periodically.
Another from that period is Frances, now living in Seattle. She was an Art History grad whom my beloved Indian Desai and I met one night in Cosimo’s, a jazz place on Burgundy, and took to the Gin Mill to see the lowlife. They got together, and I got alone. Frances and I have kept in touch through the other chapters in our lives with visits, cards, and emails. Desai went back to India where he married, and we lost touch in the 70’s. I sure hope he’s still kicking.
I also “went out” to La Casa de los Marinos with another woman, Martha, a student from Southeastern in Hammond with wild blonde hair and arresting blue eyes. She and I created a leaping dance we called “The President Kennedy.” Martha lives (I hope) in Arcata CA, a militant vegan lesbian grandmother known locally as Granny Green Genes. We haven’t been in touch for a few years, but at this late date, I’m afraid to check on her.
A platonic friend from back then was Lee (later Chas). Faithful correspondents through the rest of the 60’s, we hung out together when I moved back to New Orleans in ’71. In ’72 we moved to Washington DC together and were close neighbors throughout that decade. But when I moved off to New York, we lost contact for some fifteen years. In the late 90’s he got back in contact, and we resumed our old closeness. For several years he came out to Santa Fe in the summers for the Santa Fe Opera season and would stay the weeks with me. He died in 2003.
Not quite so lengthy was my platonic friendship with Charles, a faerie sister from Tulane. We weren’t all that close in New Orleans but accidentally re-connected in an elevator in a Chicago hotel some years later. When I went back to Ann Arbor in ’72 for dissertation work, I moved in with him and his lover for a couple months. Then Charles moved to Washington DC right after Chas and I did, and we wound up buying a Victorian house together at Logan Circle.
Charles is a special story unto himself, a tragic drama lasting till he passed on in 1992. On that sad note, I’m getting all choked up, so let me save other memorials for another time. Sniffle.