I have had the great good fortune to fall in love at first sight with two men in my life. The first was Luca whom I first laid eyes on in the summer of 1984 while working behind the cash register at Laura Ashley on Madison Avenue. It was a very busy afternoon and out of the corner of my eye, I saw this man hovering, waiting to ask me a question, but I ignored him and kept on ringing up customers eager to buy the faux-Victorian fashion which I was wearing and which Luca later told me he found repugnant. When finally he did ask me where he might find “Janey” (he had been sent by a mutual Italian friend), I finally looked up and was forever lost.
The second was Rick. Five years later, when I stepped off the elevator on my first day of work at Alfred A. Knopf in the editorial department, the first person I saw was the receptionist, a dreamy boy with beautiful long dark blond hair, a sly smile, and seductive eyes. He exuded innocence, adventure, hard knocks, and a wisdom well beyond his years–he was 19 or 20. I immediately fell madly in love. I soon learned he had landed at Knopf only a short while before me. He’d written a fan letter to Gordon Lish asking if he would mentor him and when he got no reply Rick called him. Gordon told him to come to New York and look him up. Rick was on the next bus out of Ohio.
That was 1989. My life and Rick’s have been enmeshed and intertwined ever since and I am grateful for this fact every day. Though our backgrounds and experience are vastly different, we share the intense weirdness of being alive together. Together, we have struggled through the vicissitudes of being writers. Through his work with Family Focus Adoption Services, and his adoption of the sublime David, he inspired me, Luca, Tommaso, and Leandro to go on our own adoption journey. He has been there for me and I for him through it all over the past thirty-one years in a way that goes beyond all words and deeds to something far deeper.
And now he brings us still-warm homemade bread, blueberry crumb cake, and triple-chocolate cookies (which aren’t pictured here because they were immediately devoured). He delivers these scrumptious care packages to us on his rounds volunteering for Invisible Hands, an organization that makes pick-ups and deliveries for the most at-risk community members facing Covid-19. Rick allows me to have the fantasy that on a good day we’re all in one great big, wondrous and surreal, romantic comedy.
And for a little Emily Dickinson check out what’s going on at the homestead.
*The film still above is from My Man Godfrey starring William Powell and Carole Lombard. It is definitely a silver lining for all time.