Sunday, January 07, 2007


My best friend Paul met Rick during one of our many excursions to New Orleans, and I disliked him from the moment I first laid eyes on him lying naked in Paul's bed.

Paul and I are excellent travelling companions. We share a room, we go out to dinner together, we tour together but in the evening we separate; which is easy in New Orleans since there are several gay bars within walking distance of each other.

I prefer the gay clubs on Bourbon Street with their loud music and eclectic mix of colorful patrons. Paul, on the other hand frequents the "side street" gay pubs frequented by the "blue jean, plaid shirt" types which is where he met Rick.

The rule is "if we meet someone we would like to get to know better (hmmmm); go to their homes, hotel rooms or get another room. Our room is for the two of us only (no need to worry about stolen money, cameras, clothes, etc). This had always worked well for both of us, until Rick.

Paul is a successful Raku pottery artist and Rick, a starving artist working as a dishwasher in order to survive. It was obvious from looking at the pile of well worn soiled clothing on the floor that Rick was also a slob.

I left the room unshowered, unshaven and angry, not returning for several hours.

I returned to the hotel to find Paul sitting in the courtyard smiling. He quickly apologized for breaking the "house rule", telling me that Rick lives outside of the quarter and too far for them to have gone the previous nite and that he would probably stay at Rick's place that evening. Paul was in lust. This will pass, I thought.......

Paul spent the next two evenings with Rick and after a tearful farewell (Paul, not me) we flew back to Florida where he would spend a few days visiting me and the dogs before going back to his home in upstate New York.

We were not in Florida 24 hours when I answered the door to find Rick standing there. He wanted to spend a bit more time with Paul and had taken an 18 hour bus ride from New Orleans to Florida. I gave Paul a "this man's insane" look and reluctantly welcomed Rick into my home.

Rick stayed two days before returning to New Orleans and Paul left the following day. He was in love but there was a slight problem Rick was HIV+.


Rick eventually moved to New York with Paul and after a few years, chose to return to New Orleans and eventually entered Lazarus House, an aids Hospice.

Paul emailed to inform me that Rick had transferred to a hospice near his sister in Wisconsin where he died last evening.

Paul reminded me that I had laughed when he cried upon leaving Rick that first weekend in New Orleans. HE wrote that he was crying as he sent the email.

I wrote back:

Tonite, I promise not to laugh as you cry.....

As I reflect on the past and think about Rick, I can't help but smile.

Rick was a free spirit who at times drove you crazy. Rick said and did what he wanted with no thought to the consequences, which in a way I admired.

Do you remember when he showed up somewhat unexpectedly in Clearwater? And of course, the summer in Rochester!

Rick was part of the New Orleans we loved so much.

I still cherish the art work he sent, and of course the beautifully framed photo montage of Daisy....

If you want to talk, need to talk or just feel like laughing/crying/whatever, I'm only a phone call away.

A free spirit held captive by illness secondary to the Aids virus is free at last.

***Thankfully, with Rick being honest about his HIV+ status from the onset of their
relationship, they were able to use percautions necessary to keep Paul free of infection.


leone said...

Reflection is a great thing - I've been reminded more than once by good friends about our disastrous initial meeting and it's funny how things work out sometimes isn't it? The same has to be said about people I have become close to whose initial impressions left me somewhat less than impressed to say the very least.

The main thing is that you're able to look back and see Ric as an intergral part of your experience of a particular place at a particular time and recognise that it wouldn't have been the same without him.

It's very sad obviously about his passing in particular for your friend I'm sure. It makes me think about contacting some people I have a love/hate relationship with just to reassure them that actually they're not so bad and I wouldn't have it any other way. It just wouldn't be the same.

But then again, that's why I won't as it's like the Ric situation - if I did and they changed - it wouldn't be the same!!

If you know what I mean?

RIC said...

I read this post a few hours ago. It took me some time to make up my mind as to what I should tell you.
I should start by saying I lost some rather good friends between my 30s and 40s - the worst time of my life, since my parents had passed earlier...
So I guess death became a traumatic, cyclic experience to me.
You may have not liked Rick, and he himself may have taken the wrong road, but I believe he loved Paul, as I think you believe too.
The saddest thing of all, in my opinion and the way I feel about it, is that young people keep on dying of Aids in the century, when pharmaceuticals can already prevent that from occurring...
It always saddens me very much. A human life is a human life, and a young one is a lost promise...
I'm truly sorry. :-)

The Thunderbird said...

A bitter sweet post, to the transient nature of life, of love, and of time itself. I enjoyed it, though like all good writing I find myself thinking of people I have lost in this life -- some by death, and some by other means.

Spider Girl said...

It's very true that the friends of our good friends are indeed an important part of our lives.

And wow, an eighteen hour bus ride. Yep, you'd really have to like someone to inflict that on yourself.

Blogzie said...

And yet another one is gone.

So very sad.

Thinking of you, as always.

Missing you, as always.