Friendship

T is in a summer school program in the mornings for the next 6 weeks. Yesterday we dropped him off at school and the rest of us headed to Green Lakes Park. Z and C hung out at the playground and beach and I took a brisk walk around the two mile trail that loops one of the lakes. I’ve never been a committed exerciser, but I ended up doing a lot of physical activity while we were traveling. Since we’ve been home I’ve been a lump and put on 4.5 lbs. A walk around the lake seemed like a solid idea. And we have a season pass to the park, Z suggested we could do it every day. I’m kinda into the idea. Of course, this means I need to buy some actual sneakers and wear appropriate clothing. Because my feet were killing me by the end and my jeans were, well I won’t gross you out with details. Let’s just say it was humid and I’m a sweater.

I didn’t think to bring earbuds, so my mind wandered while I settled in to the rhythm of walking and it landed on my friend Kevin. We spend the night at his place last week on the way back home and it was so fucking good to see him. When I met him in the fall of 1991 it wasn’t clear that I was meeting someone who would eventually become family. We drifted apart after he went to college two years before I did. And then the summer before my senior year of college geography brought us back together. His roommate was Z and the rest is history.

As I was huffing and puffing around the lake I was thinking about all the crazy adventures we had together, mostly engineered by him. Back in the late 90s when we all lived in Brooklyn we kept wanting to get into an exercise routine. Z wanted no part of it. He’d just roll his eyes at us and tell us to go do our thing. For a while we did yoga classes at Integral Yoga in the Village. We would meet up and fast walk around the track in McCarren Park. We’d weave through the packs of Hasidic women wearing wigs and long denim skirts pushing strollers, their only concession to exercise gear being gleaming white sneakers. Inside the track several pickup soccer games would be going on at one time, every player Latino. The benches would be filled with skinny, slouching hipsters chatting and smoking. I’d listen to the Yiddish, Spanish, and English as we pushed ourselves to go faster and think this is it. This is New York. There is nowhere in the world I would rather be. A couple of years later after we moved out of Williamsburg we’d meet in his apartment in Fort Greene and do the New York City Ballet Workout video. One day he told me he had a surprise. When I got to his apartment there were two black tutus sitting on the floor. We cracked ourselves up as we plied around the apartment wearing them.

And that’s the thing. He made everything crazy and fun. If you are going to do a ballet video why the hell wouldn’t you wear tutus?

During those years we didn’t just half-heartedly try to get in shape. We took a massage class together, we worked through The Artist’s Way (a kind of self-help/creativity book) together, we hiked, we camped, we took road trips, we went to the Halloween Parade in the Village, we went swing dancing. When I think back to the adventures I had in my early 20s Kev is almost always part of them.

My favorite 4th of July was spent with him. Fifteen years ago today he took the train up to my apartment in Inwood in the morning, which is the neighborhood at the northern tip of Manhattan. We walked the length of Broadway and watched the fireworks from the bottom of the island. Near the start of the trip we bought a disposable camera (’98-no digital) and snapped pictures of each other all day. It was exhausting and magical and one of those rare days when you realize in the moment that you are doing something you’ll remember forever. After the fireworks we took the train back to Williamsburg, to Z and Kev’s apartment. Z had been working all day, he missed one hell of a good time.

As I neared the end of my walk yesterday I thought about how all the people we love the most have met Kev over the years. We all haven’t lived in the same town for going on a decade, there are some years we don’t get to see each other. But no matter what he is a permanent part of our life. And we fantasize about someday living close to each other again. He is the only person who isn’t Z or my sibling that the boys call Uncle. We want T and C to really know him.

He’s been to Syracuse several time to see us and last year he and his lovely girlfriend came up for the 4th of July. After thinking about him for the length of the walk I suddenly remembered that we walked around that very lake with him a year ago.

So this 4th of July I’m thinking about friendship and fun and love. Maybe not patriotic. Or hell, or maybe it is. Because we are lucky enough to be able to indulge in friendship and fun and love. Go America.

kev and karen broadway

Fifteen years ago today. Our walk down Broadway. Jesus, we were kids.

kev and karen dancing

Dancing in my apartment in Inwood.

z and kev at wedding

The groom and the bestest best man in the history of the universe.

Kev and Karen and berries

At some hiking conference in PA. This just cracks me up.

Kev K and C

He missed C being born by like a day.

4th july read

Last 4th of July he brought up sparkers and his fancy camera so we could fool around. His lovely girlfriend is a librarian, so she, Z, and I naturally spelled out READ. This is being friends with Kev in a nutshell. You don’t just get together for the 4th. You make crazy pictures with sparklers.

three amigos

Last week. The three amigos.

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