I just went for a walk. Nothing shocking, I know but… this afternoon, I went for a walk past my old apartment. It’s something I rarely do, despite it being not too far away. And so there I was, about 20 years later, walking the same steps to what used to be my front door. Thinking of how my life had changed, seeing my parents and my grandpa once again walking down those front steps on the day I moved out.
It was about a year earlier that I met a man who changed my life. His name is James, and our paths crossed in a dressing room at the Old Firehall/Second City in Toronto. James was a Stage Manager there at the time and my recognizing him from a TV series opened a door to what would become my first big love and a beautiful friendship. James was engaging and handsome and kind… and soon after our meeting he brought me onto a team for what would become the first big theatre show I ever worked on. I adored going to rehearsals for a multitude of reasons, but one of which was that I’d be there learning how to stage manage with James.
I remember the day that I knew I liked him, and liked him a lot. We were in rehearsal and he was chatting with our actor Nick about birthdays. They reminisced over turning 30. I thought “okay, he’s in his 30’s… I can deal with that”. But then they reminisced over turning 40. I then thought “oh fuck.” Over time, our friendship grew. And I can still see the night we went for a pint and he kissed me before we parted ways for the evening.
One night, after a day of whatever had me downtown, it started raining. Leaving the Firehall, James grabbed an umbrella from a room in the basement. He told me it would protect me when he could not.
And I’m not sure if I was supposed to return my magical umbrella, but I must confess that I still have it. It broke years ago, but I have taken it with me everywhere in the 20 years that I’ve had it. I always wonder who might have used it once, who’s comedic hands it had passed through… but what means the most to me is that it came from James’ hands to mine.
Though we have not seen each other in a few years, thanks to that umbrella he is there in some way, protecting me as he promised he always would. The last time I saw James, my 1st play How Does a Drug Deal Become a Decent 3rd Date? had just made its debut in Minneapolis. He was so proud of me. And when our friend stepped away for a minute, James told me for the first time that he loved me. Our friendship was a deep one, and I always knew he loved me but hearing it was… I don’t know how to explain it. It made me so happy. Every phone call since has seemed more special.
What I’m trying to say is all of the moments now just mean so much more to me, as I learned last night James is very ill. As I sit here writing this, I wish I could protect him as he promised to protect me those 20 years ago.
But I also never would have imagined we’d meet before that night at Second City, so I know that miracles can occur.
And if anyone can gracefully kick Cancer’s ass, James most certainly can.
p.s. If you are able, please help in raising much need funds for James and his family. Thank you.