So I’m standing around at the cheese shop waiting for my Duck Confit sandwich to be ready and I’m grumpy as can be because no matter how many times I say please and thank you the folks who work at the cheese shop never say please or thank you. They have the most beautiful food but the most hideous manners, and I want both good food and good manners but I can’t seem to find it anywhere but the Beverly Hills Cheese Store, and I married for love so I don’t live in Beverly Hills.

Had I been anywhere where the help says things like Please and Thank You I never would have answered my phone when it rang, but it rang and it was a 415 number that ended in 00 which can only be someone from San Francisco calling me from their office, which can only mean a paying client.

So I answered the phone with, “This is Jessica.” And an unfamiliar man’s voice said, “Jessica, did you work in a tanning salon in West Hollywood?” As I gasped he said his name was Tony and I might have screeched a little. Tony kept talking but I was busy watching a movie in my mind. In the movie I was 22 or maybe 23 and Tony and I were driving down Sunset Blvd in my little red convertible and we were both probably too tan, wearing too much makeup and not enough clothes. We were both at the height of our beauty and completely surrounded by people who loved us.

My Tony Circa 1993

Tony was part of my early 20’s and one of the men who taught me how to love. He taught me how to love the people around me, to love my town, to love the moment, to love the opportunities around me and to love myself. When I think of Tony I think of Springtime.

I gathered myself together and asked all the questions you’d ask someone after a long separation. Where are you living? Are you married? Work? Friends? Do you have an above ground pool and drag queen friends? And the answers were San Francisco, happily married, photographer, many friends, yes to the pool, and more yeses to the drag queens. I really have to research this whole Imperial Court thing.

And my heart soared a little more. I gave Tony the Cliff Notes version of my 30’s, husband, two kids, dog, cat, a career that doesn’t really have a name, grad school, love, heartbreak and Steven died. He said, “I know, I heard, but I couldn’t come down for the funeral.” And then I told him that there really wasn’t much of one here, that it was all in Mississippi and it wouldn’t have offered closure anyhow. And I felt that familiar stabbing pain of missing Steven. I told Tony that Steven and Robert loved my kids, and that my kids loved them back. For some reason it was really important to let him know that.

So now I’m poring through photos of Tony and his husband Brian and I’m thinking of making Brian’s Piroshkis, but I’m much more likely to invite myself up there for a weekend and demand beg that he cooks for me.

We’ve connected in all the usual ways that people connect online, except I think it’s unusual because so many of those people we lost and left behind were people we needed to move away from, and Tony wasn’t one of those. I’m excited to have Springtime come back to me.

 

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