Today is my friend Aimee’s birthday. We had a nice celebratory weekend in her honor that began with drinks and food on Saturday night and ended with drinks and food on Sunday night. We double dated to a live performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which was such a spectacularly good time. I laughed hysterically through the whole thing, except during the moments of being completely moved by the actor’s ability to emote that feeling of utter sadness and loss. The hand stamp to get in was the word QUEER in bright orange. I am disappointed that it washed off come Monday morning. Anyway, if you have the chance to see this performance in your town, DO IT!
I have known Aimee for almost 12 years, first meeting her at the Opera Plaza Deli job in San Francisco and then coincidentally meeting her again at the Central Hotel Reservation job. We bonded over relationship troubles and discovered Long Island Ice Tea during after work barhops. She had plans to move to Seattle and in one spontaneous instant I said I would go with her. The plan was to fill up a U-haul with all of our stuff, plus each of our cats and drive there over a 2-day period to an apartment that we had never before seen. I had a friend who lived in Seattle, but was moving to Olympia, so we were just going to take over her one-bedroom apartment. This was just one of the moments of pure synchronicity that helped to ease the difficulty of moving. We were to leave on New Years day, a new beginning.
I was 25 years old at the time and had been living on my own for over 8 years. I had lived in New York and San Francisco, traveled abroad by myself and been married and separated. My Dad still freaked out at the prospect of 2 young ladies trekking across 2 1/2 states in an over-filled U-haul. I spent Christmas with my family and the entire time my Dad harassed me about the impending trip. It got so bad, that at one point I put the pointy end of a fork to my throat and said: “If you do not fucking leave me alone, I am going to stab myself!” I could understand his fears as I had only just got my license and hardly ever drove a regular car, let alone a U-haul. He was particularly concerned with Grant’s pass, which is apparently pretty treacherous in the wintertime. Aimee’s Mom’s response was to buy us a membership to AAA.
The plan to leave on New Years day was not the best idea, because of course we stayed up very late the night before celebrating New Years and saying goodbye to friends. Regardless, we got up early and first loaded the U-haul with her stuff and then drove over to my apartment to shove my belongings in there. Since I had very little driving experience, and Aimee was more expert, I thought it would be best if I drove us out of San Francisco since I was more familiar with it, and Aimee would drive us in to Seattle. This was flawed thinking, since I had never driven from San Francisco to Oakland on the way to Interstate 5. Upon entering the Freeway, I promptly drove right off the first exit, not realizing you have to change lanes and get over to the left side of the Freeway to avoid spontaneously exiting. Now we were lost in Oakland, but managed to loop around and try again, screaming with every change of lane on the aggressive roads.
We were maybe 30 minutes into our trip, when Aimee’s cat, Snacks, who was sitting on her lap like the good Buddha cat he was, suddenly pooped and peed on her lap. He had been without a littler box for a few hours before we left and the poor buddy just had to go. Now the only pair of pants Aimee brought for the drive were a wet, stinky mess.
The trip went more smoothly after that. Our rest point was Medford Oregon at a hotel that we finagled for cheap through our hotel reservations job. Our cats were able to roam around the hotel room and get acquainted for the first time. My cat, Eggplant was apprehensive, but Snacks played his Zen charm on her and put everyone at ease. A few weeks earlier, two lesbian women were beheaded in Medford, but we managed to survive the night.
Aimee was driving as we entered Washington. We cheered as we saw the little silhouetted heads of George Washington that they use for Highway markers. One-second later, rain started crashing on us as we drove at high speeds on this foreign freeway. A giant semi truck drove next to us and sprayed gallons upon gallons of rainwater on our windshield, completely obscuring our view of the road. We held our breath for what seemed like an hour, as we drove on, completely blinded. Somehow Aimee kept her cool, and drove expertly through the horrid conditions. We could see the road again, but the conditions were still frightening. I thanked my lucky stars that Aimee had been driving at that moment, because if I had been, my Dad’s fears of our death on the freeway may have been realized.
The rain stopped as we entered Seattle. We had the address of our new apartment: 505 Olive. We got out the map and then wondered which Olive was it? Was it Olive Street, Olive Avenue or Olive Place??? It was almost 10 o’clock at night, and we were just driving around and around Seattle trying to figure out where we lived. I did not have any phone numbers to call that would help us, so we just continued to drive up and down and around, wondering what to do. Suddenly, I saw a familiar view of the Space needle. I had only been to Seattle once before, 3 years earlier. I stayed with my friend who lived in the same building we were moving to, just a different apartment number. It looked like the same view I had remembered from that visit and sure enough, we had finally arrived at our new home.
It is now 8 ½ years later and we have had so many good times and wonderful adventures together. Aimee has been there through every bump and bruise and made everything so much better. Happy birthday, Aimee, you are my dear friend and partner in so many ways.