Just shy of one year ago, a very dear and special person passed away. his friendship was deeply (profoundly even) important to me, he was kind, and gracious, and patient with me. I was reminded of his passing, and the flood of sadness at knowing that would not hear his voice again, just made my heart feel heavy. again.
He was living in New Orleans when Katrina happened, he called me a couple of days after the storm hit from his cell, the one which I had tried repeatedly to reach him on. I answered, breathing into the phone with anticipation; “Blaine, please tell me you are Blaine and that you are OK” He answered; “Darlin’, I am OK. It is hell here, but I am alive.”. He told me how awful it was and asked me to call others that were important to him, people who I did not really know, but had met and knew how to get a hold of… There was such an honor in being that kind of person to him.
I wrote him a letter last year, shortly after I found out he had passed away from brain cancer. Here is an excerpt of that letter.
My dear Blaine,
I always told you that you helped me in ways that would be eternal. Now that your body has passed away, the truth of that hits home, and hits hard.
I was recently broken up with one of the most vile and worst of the boyfriends in my life… I was broken but managed to talk myself into going to Long Wong’s in Tempe to hear The Revenants play… alone. Not anything I normally did, and everything I was told I should never do.
You were sitting outside on the patio with mutual friends. You heard them ask me about the ex. They went inside to see what was going on. You stayed and talked to me and told me what I needed to know about being in a relationship with addicts and how to handle it now that I had broken up with him.
I recall thinking that you were trying to work me, and you probably were. The light from the streetlight reflected on your long, dark, thick hair. I was pretty broken that night, when I arrived. You were extremely kind and I decided to give you a chance. We spent quite some time together after that, hanging out at your casita talking about having ties to the rise of Phoenix; Denton, Texas; music; astrology… and even a little about your vile ex… and my vile ex. And in those moments, where we would sit and talk, a wonderful friendship began. That is, until you decided to move to New Orleans because you didn’t want to cut your hair. I’m not quite sure how you managed it, but before you left Arizona, you helped me regain a sense of worth that I had handed vile ex boyfriend on a silver platter. Merely in you appreciating me for who I was, was I able to regain the knowledge that I was a good person. Those early years between us seemed a diversion. We had sex , drank a lot of your cold brewed coffee and talked.
I always marveled that you were such a wonder… You were the first to present me with a clean sexual history on paper, I was struck by that… it seemed so gracious. You also once introduced me to your friends as your lover, you were the first man to do that. I was floored. I’m not sure why, but it was undeniably true. You had the smoothest skin 😉 I’d ever seen, I still marvel at that. Making love to you was straight raw sex… but it was transformative for me. You helped me get past some perceptions about my body and shifted the way I confronted men as well as myself and how I felt about sex. You allowed me to relax and have fun. You were a catalyst in returning me to me.
We stayed in touch by email when you moved away and when I moved out of the country. We would use ICQ to chat between Latin America and NOLA. You were the first man to send me a picture of themselves naked, and I think you were disappointed by how I was not charmed by that.There was the other video (not of you) that still shocks me, and has me deeply concerned about a horse. You seemed surprised that I even watched it.
I was able to swing a visit to New Orleans and stay with you for a few days on my way to a friend’s wedding. I was still living overseas and there was something that felt very grown up in going to visit you, even though I was in my late 20’s at that time. That trip changed me so much. It was there that I became aware that you called me darlin’. It was that trip when I felt like the sexiest and most desirable woman in all of New Orleans. You took me to dinner and fed me jambalaya, later you took me to see the Blind Boys of Alabama. I wore a slip, no bra and no panties. We walked around the French Quarter and you gave me a tour of the city at dusk and into the night. You introduced me to your friends as we walked along the street. I”Of course, darlin’ you’re beautiful.” I think that walking around town with you while I was wearing nothing but a black slip was one of the most wonderful moments in my life as a female. I felt beautiful in a way I had never felt before. You may have been the first male to tell me that and that I believed truly meant it.
We went back to your place and made love… and I laughed. You had to stop and tell me how weird it was for you and I told you that I was laughing, not at you, but just at sex as it was a funny thing to do and it felt good and most of all because I was happy. You looked at me and said that you could handle that, smiled, cupped your hand around my neck and kissed me.
You took me to a graveyard near your home and we talked about death and life as we wandered and sat on the mausoleums, that was so perfect. You told me that you had identified the time and date you’d die. You wouldn’t tell me though, you said that it shouldn’t matter and I realize that was right. You called me darlin’ that whole trip (and never stopped).
I never had “intentions” about my relationship with you. It just was. I never thought of you as a boyfriend or even as marriageable. We enjoyed each other.
I recall that in Phoenix, we spent a New Years together. We had dinner and you ordered soft shell crab. I seem to recall that we went to a party and got bored and went to just get naked and enjoy each other. You looked so handsome in your suit, and you were extra gentlemanly to me.
I’d gotten married and when I told you, you said that you’d miss having sex with me, but that I was forever your darlin’. I came to visit you again after that, and stayed with you but in separate beds this time. You showed me the shaker shop and your love of good wood. We were friends, and I knew that would never go away.
I was one of the first people you called after Katrina devastated New Orleans… to tell me you were ok. You’d call a every once in a while and I’d call you. You’d share your relationship horror stories and I’d ask about my sons astrological chart (it was not done by you, but it was done with software you’d written. So it felt right) or we would talk about how New Orleans was still trying to recover. Or we would talk about guns and how much you hated liberals.
Oh my dear Blaine, when you called to tell me about your tumor. I was devastated. Stage 4 is never ever good. I asked if they thought it had been the tumor that had caused the constant ear infections 15 years prior. You said you hadn’t thought of that. I think it was, but it is in my nature to find some form of survivor guilt about you. I don’t want you dead, but you went ahead and did it anyway. So you leave me here, all the richer for having had you in my life.
I miss knowing that hearing you call me darlin’ is a phone call away. It was always so genuine.
I really do miss you.
Love you forever,