In May of 1990, my friend Claire helped me get a job at Baskin Robbins. What seemed like an innocent after school job, actually became one of the most important I’ll probably ever have. From the very first shift that Sizzle and I worked together, there was a tension you could slice with a knife. A tension I had forgotten until I sat down to write this.
In retrospect, it all makes sense. She and I had an undeniable chemistry. Perhaps we were soul mates from another lifetime destined to join forces in this one. But at 16, we couldn’t articulate that tension or understand that force, so instead I would pick on her and she would dish it right back. I was afraid to work shifts with her and she would request to not have to work with me. But because of our school schedules, we often found ourselves working together.
I was known for saying to her, “you’re causing friction between us”. I’m sure it wasn’t all her.
This was the beginning and the Universe knew what it was doing. Somehow that friction finally sparked and our teenage frustration refocused from irritation to passion and lust.
On our first date, it was a double, and we went with Jeff and Cindy to see Air America with Robert Downey, Jr and Mel Gibson. In an attempt to be cool, I had thrown my legs up over the chair in front of us so I could maneuver better in the seat for hand holding (we were all the way in the back of the theater where no one could see us). At the time, what happened was completely horrifying, but as life marched on I learned to accept it as typical. I had slouched too low in the seat and my legs were too high and suddenly I was stuck. The only way out was for them to pull me forward until my ass hit the floor and I was able to crawl out of the aisle on my hands and knees.
Neither of us can recall the how or why, but that was the night we started dating. We spent hours on the phone when we weren’t together and when we had free time, we were always together burning fumes on the road in her ’66 Mustang.
For the next two years, we dated and were in love. We also fought like you’ve never seen.
Reflecting back on it from my thirties, it all makes much more sense to me now. I was seeking a family and she was seeking a dependable male figure in her life. The funny thing is, we gave that to each other, we just had to remove the mask that we were hiding behind of “the boyfriend and the girlfriend”.
When I came out in 1993, that mask was one of the many that were removed and our friendship has been it’s best and most authentic ever since.
I don’t believe in calling someone a best friend. I say certain friends are “one of my best friends” because I think that by singling one out, you are saying one is more important than the other. I know with utmost certainty the value each of them bring and wouldn’t be me without the handful it takes. But if I am being honest and I had to choose, Sizzle is the one person who has known my ugliest and darkest hours and who has witnessed and been part of my brightest times. She is one of the few who knows firsthand where I came from and can take a pride in knowing where I am. She has not only had a front row seat, but has been an integral part of it all. It has not been an easy road for either one of us, but knowing that we are there for each other has always made it easier to get through.
She is my first phone call when I’ve lost someone to death. She is my first phone call when I’ve found someone to love. She’s the best person to call me on my shit and she is the best person to help me figure me out. She will avoid me when she knows the truth and doesn’t want to hear it and we can chuckle about something simple because in spite of not having lived in the same city in 15 years, we have stayed connected on the mundane. Which isn’t that what you do with your best friend?
The best gift she has given me in my life is to learn how to love. The only way to learn that is to be loved and she has shown me that time and again. My birthday wish for her is to finally know the same. I want this to be the year that she finally sees what we all see in her. The gift she has given me by simply being herself. The strong willed, intelligent, funny, hip, conscious, authentic, ambitious, caring, thoughtful woman that she is and who deserves a man who will treat her as such. Who deserves friends who will treat her as such. I for one know how easy it hasn’t been for her and I know how hard she has had to work for what she has. It is there where my admiration is its strongest for her and where I will kick the shit out of anyone who doesn’t respect her for it.
I am wishing the happiest of birthdays for my friend.
May our adventures never end.
May our passion never extinguish.
May our friendship last forever.