I had a reading the summer from a psychic friend who said that I could be writing entries for this blog more often, as it helps some people. Sometimes I feel like I’ve said pretty much everything I have to say, and I don’t like forcing it unless there’s a specific train of thought eating into my mind. But he said it can be as little as a few words, so maybe I’ll get a little more casual and not turn it into a giant entry all the time. If there’s something you’d like to hear from me, feel free to ask.
Anyhoo, as most of you know, there was a memorial for our beautiful Kim Montenegro on Saturday. It was lovely, thanks to the hard work of Paty Huthert and Dennis McHugh, and I spoke, so I thought I’d copy what I said here for those of you who couldn’t get to Philly.
I also put my beloved cat Beep down last week and then had a birthday. I really don’t care about birthdays anymore, Lord knows I’ve had enough of them, but it is a time to assess and see friends. So it was a big week, too much really, and I’m grateful for all of the messages. Life just throws shit at you sometimes and you have to roll with it. I was so drained yesterday that I had to hibernate; I couldn’t bear to try to form words or respond to texts. But I’m feeling more rejuvenated now and better able to respond.
Kim’s absence will be with me for the rest of my life. She was a sister and a force of nature and I am not the only person feeling her loss. I asked her and Codie to help Beep with his transition and I did feel a warm presence when he left his body, which was a tough moment for me. I don’t know if it was one or both of them or someone or something else, but it was calming to feel there is more to life than what we see with our eyes and that we don’t completely lose our loved ones in death. It’s not perfect, but at least positive.
It’s impossible for me to talk about Kim without thinking of the word “beauty”.
Kim taught me to appreciate beauty in a deep way–not just in the superficial meaning of the word, although we did adore pretty people and things. Kim understood true, life-affirming beauty: the heart of a person, the way a home can look and feel, delightful smells, delicious food, and the value of doing something right the first time.
The first time I met Kim, in the mid-80’s, she said, within the first ten seconds of laying eyes on each other, “Hi! You’re so beautiful! Who are you? Will you be my friend?”
I had never been greeted like that. What adult just happily asks a total stranger if they want to be friends? I was shy at the time and this openness and generosity of spirit threw me. She was so fearless, and it immediately shifted my energy from guarded to open. I fell in love with her on the spot. We became inseparable at that show and for many years. I wanted to look like her, dress like her, talk like her. I wanted everyone to know that this amazing creature was with me, my friend. She was the most exciting and entertaining person I knew and I loved taking trips to Philly where we’d ride around in that boat of a Buick, smoking cigarettes and waving at the guys who shouted at us. It was heaven to me.
I quickly discovered that she greeted most people with that level of enthusiasm. She would walk into a crowded room and light up everyone with her warmth, saying, “Hi! Hello! I love your jacket! You have pretty eyes! What’s your name?” She genuinely liked humans, something completely alien to me, and she saw beauty in everyone and wanted to get to know them. She SAW you. She listened. I was constantly dragging her out of places while some random and annoying person cried on her shoulder or tried to invade our party. She was regularly pulling stray lunatics into my apartment and life, then when they became too much, which they inevitably did, I’d have to act as bouncer and bad guy because her heart was too soft to do it. She had absolutely no discernment when it came to people and it was a huge pain in the ass sometimes. But it was also a testament to how much love she gave so freely.
Kim taught me to appreciate quality, to really look around the room at furniture and art, to savor what we saw and heard and consumed. She taught me how to fold those fucking jeans exactly the way she wanted them to be folded. She wouldn’t let you bag her groceries because she had her own rules about it. The level of control could be exhausting, but we all reaped the benefits of that attention to detail. Her orbit was a warm place to reside. She remembered little things. She always made sure we looked into each other’s eyes when we raised a glass of wine. When we went to restaurants she would tear the crust off of the bread and eat it while handing me the soft middle, because she knew I didn’t like the hard parts. It was a minor gesture but its meaning was grand. I never see a loaf of crusty bread without thinking of it.
Romances came and went, and we had our disagreements and downtime, but at the end of the day there was always a safe space of kinship. I could always trust her. Kim was imperfect, stubborn, and self-destructive at times. She often didn’t get out of her own way and it was frustrating. But she was also a blazing star, a shining beacon of creativity, affection, intelligence, honor, hard work, hilarity, fun, and enthusiasm. Her energy was infectious, there were times it felt as if we floated in a shiny bubble of her making. She was as easy to love as she was easy on the eyes.
The last time I saw her, when she wasn’t really verbal anymore, everyone at the table had a glass of prosecco and she did her thing–raised her glass and looked deeply into my eyes. I knew what she was saying and that it was the last time I would have this, and I think instinctively she knew too. I held her gaze, raised the glass and said, “I love you. You know that, right?” And she laughed her sweet laugh and nodded.
I know that this was not my first lifetime with her, and I know I will see her again in whatever form we take. I am grateful she didn’t languish for years, she would have hated the idea of being a burden to anyone. And I’m so grateful to her close people for the work and heartache they went through to make sure her last days were good. I am grateful for all of it, every minute, good and less than good. I know that this world will never be the same for me without her in it, and I will never be able to raise a glass of red without feeling her in my heart. But I also know that she would want us all to live our lives to the fullest and to remember her with joy. So that is what I shall endeavor to do.