My best friend Anne died suddenly from a brain aneurysm almost two years ago. It was devastating and still is. To lose that one person that really gets you. We used to say we were each others’ life partners. She had a husband but if we were both gay, we would totally be together. I was never close with her husband until after she died. At the hospital when she was on life support, he was nothing but kind and gracious with me. I was her last roommate before she moved in with him, so in a sense I felt like the other woman at the hospital with his family.
After Anne’s funeral, I kept in touch with Jim via email and texting. We became friends and he invited me out to California to visit him and see their son Connor. I flew out from NYC for a long weekend last October. Jim’s a huge baseball fan so he took me to an Oakland A’s game with his old Apple buddies. They all worked together in the 80’s and recalled Steve Jobs stories as we sipped Acacia Chardonnay in the car stuck in traffic on the 101.
At the game Jim and I swapped Anne stories, ate bratwursts and drank beers. I can’t remember who the A’s played or who won but it was a fun game. We drove back to Saratoga and Jim took me to his favorite dive bar he frequented in college. We talked more about Anne and drank, a lot. I’m pretty sure shots were involved. The photos are somewhere.
We got back home and I barely remember going to bed. In the middle of the night I got up to go to the bathroom, hit my head on the towel bar and passed out on the bathroom floor for about an hour. Anne would have been proud. The next morning I had a cut on the side of my ear from the fall and could barely move my feet in bed. Jim was up to take their son Connor to a picnic. I declined the invite and Jim was a good sport about it. On top of the raging headache, I was embarrassed.
After they left, I slowly crawled out of bed, stumbling into a side table. It was nearly noon. I hadn’t been to Anne’s house since she died eight months earlier and I was hungover and emotional. Everything of hers was still there. It was like she had stepped out for a few minutes – her sunglasses on the kitchen counter, her phone charging on the desk, an open toiletry bag with lip glosses and mascaras spilling out.
I wandered around the house as if I was looking for her, noticing her touches – her Lonely Planet guides of places we’d been, her wine riddling rack full of Acacia wine, the Williams Sonoma dish towels I gave her. I floated around the house and ended up in her closet. I was in a trance staring at all her clothes, touching items remembering the story behind some, like the sarong I bought her in Nepal when we trekked the Himalayas. I was like Annette Bening’s character in American Beauty when her husband Lester dies and she cries in his closet grasping at his dress shirts.
After a few minutes of heavy sobbing and slobbering, I decided it was time to get my shit together before Jim and their son came home. I took one last glance around Anne’s closet wondering if I’d ever see her belongings again, and turned off the light. As I walked by their bathroom, I glanced into the mirror to see how puffy my eyes were. I opened up the top bathroom drawer to look for a comb, and saw Anne’s brush with blond hair still in it, and her deodorant laying next to it – Lady Speed Stick. I picked up the deodorant and smelled it, thinking Anne used this twice a day, every day. I took it and ran back to my room.
I was crazy. I put some on and shoved it quickly into my bag. Would Jim know? I felt so guilty but I mean it was just sitting there and would eventually end up in the trash. That deodorant has been so good to me. Knowing it’s been held and used by Anne, I took it around the world with me this past year and it covered my sweaty smells in Thailand, Cambodia, China, Western Europe and Japan. I still have it, it’s almost used up. I wish I had another. I need to go visit Jim again.