I was saving the best for last. Because my very good friend Laurie exemplifies all that is wonderful about becoming blog [*and REAL*] friends with someone across the cyber wires. Read on to find out why.
A Baltimore-ish Song for Aimee
by Laurie Writes
So I jotted down the outline for this post on a napkin during an encore at a bar in Baltimore, when the idea for it came to me at the end of a set by a musician whose talent I think is off the charts, who I consider a power woman. And that’s really all the background you need.
I was watching Neko Case wrap up an amazing show in Baltimore last night and I started thinking about the ride home, which in this case means side streets to 495, smokestacks and underpasses, summer hazy humidity, windows down, McCormick Spice and Domino Sugar. I love Baltimore. It is one of my most visceral memories of college, of hair bands at Hammerjacks, bad beer and other cars and people at various levels of sobriety. I love this city in all of its gritty imperfection. I feel alive and integrated with people here. I almost like Edgar Allen Poe. I temporarily care about baseball. I don’t have to fake it at all about the Italian food or crab cakes, or, of course, the beer.
My friend Aimee who lives partially on this blog is from Maryland as I am, something we found we had in common pretty early on, before other stuff like photography and music started coming into play, the major bricks of my life that as it’s turning out I share with really all of my favorite people.
After I finished shooting a huge protest at the DNC in Denver last summer, I sat down in a coffee shop to download some photos and, of course, check Twitter. Heather B. had tickets to the Dave Matthews Band/Sugarland/Sheryl Crow concert at Red Rocks and didn’t want them. I told her I did, and they were mine, that simple. Did I know how to get to Red Rocks? No, but I figured Denver blogger and new friend Aimee of Greeblemonkey would, so I texted her for directions. One thing led to another and she checked it out with Bryan who was OK with staying home with Declan and there she was pulling up on the corner in less than an hour to take me to the most beautiful spot I’ve ever seen a show.
We had the best time. Aimee loves Denver and she is a genuine one-woman tourism board who makes you love it too. She drove me up these gorgeous mountain roads to an amazing venue that sort of emerges from the earth, for lack of a better description. I’m a D.C.-area resident who gets really happy when I can see the sky for feet, much less miles, and the stars, seriously, the stars alone were worth the trip. Musically, I’ll cop to thinking that Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland has one of the most gorgeous voices in music today. Dave had lost his sax player Le Roi Moore a day or so before and played a duo show with Tim Reynolds that was really lovely, although not lacking in some of the old songs, rearranged, that take me back in good ways. Dave and I, we’ve got no baggage. He’s just always been pure fun when I’ve made a little time for him.
Similarly, it quickly became clear that I could just have fun with Aimee. There was a time in my life where meeting someone from a mostly-internet connection would have felt weird to the point where I wouldn’t. That’s quaint and long gone now. Some people you can just talk to easily, no matter how you meet them. They can take you to a place in their city where you can get good sushi on the way and just start getting to the good conversational stuff. There are some – and I’m thankfully finding a lot of them in the blog world – with whom you don’t have to censor and can maybe even amp up your profanity and with whom you can also rock out in the extreme while taking 40 pictures of yourselves at the same time without judgment. It also helps when they like beer a lot. These are the people I’m learning to make my friends, who are coming to me even when I’m not looking for them because maybe I got lucky all of a sudden? These are people who I increasingly wonder, you know, where have they been all my life? Oh right. The Internet. At least for part of it.
On New Year’s Eve, 2009, I was sitting in my living room, grieving and exhausted, avoiding invitations and willing the calendar to turn, turn like the wind. I’ve got a new phone so I don’t remember the exact words we exchanged, but I sat up randomly texting pretty late with Aimee about John Taylor from Duran Duran, working out the conflict of which one of us was really meant to snag him even at this late date when she’s married and his wife is the part-owner of Juicy Couture so he’s probably staying put. And how in spite of all that I was kind of sure he was meant to be mine, if only because I wrote a short story once upon a time about our honeymoon in Antigua, site carefully chosen because a number of their videos were filmed there.
His birthday is June 20, and I did not have to Google that.
So at some conference or another last week I was in a panel about pop culture on the Internet and someone mentioned Duran Duran. I compulsively told the person sitting next to me that as long as all of these people laid off of John Taylor they could do whatever they wanted with the rest, because he was my first pretend musical husband and would always be and the other millions of people who claimed that territory were just not right.
Sarah was sitting a few people away and said no way, he was hers. So I basically implied that I’d fight her for him because you know, in spite of my less than zero desire to fight Sarah for any reason at any time there were standards. She had a husband already, who apparently recently told her that John was old now, to which she responded, absolutely correctly: I don’t care. He’s still hot.
He so is.
I told her to give it up because she’d have to fight Aimee AND me for him, and third in line at this throwdown was destined not to be pretty, and I don’t see any of us being good sharers – particularly not when the last time I saw him live he was wearing an Obama t-shirt and just, oh my. My.
These grabby married women with their claims on my fake boyfriends. I do take comfort in the knowledge though that of all the women I know these two would probably be most likely to know that as far as bass players go he’s not too shabby either, and Sarah and I are good because I guarantee we were probably the only two women at said conference to know every lick and terrible lyric of an 80s metal album that shall go unnamed in this forum.
I can talk about incredibly serious things with these women who can intelligently analyze politics and people all day long, and yet I can half-jokingly (I am so not really kidding) threaten to fight them for my pretend boyfriend. Really, I recommend checking out the Internet, where I found them. These riches may be (and in fact perhaps already are) still yours.
In March I followed Aimee around at SXSW Interactive, a world she navigates with savvy and incredible energy. I learned a lot from her and soaked up ideas like crazy. We missed a chance to see the Fleet Foxes but it’s Austin and music is everywhere, with a healthy dose of geeks, so it’s pretty much my nirvana for that week in March. She yelled at me in the most loving of ways about not writing on my blog more and about when I was going to basically get my shit together in that regard and rather than it pissing me off it touched me that she paid attention enough to say it out loud.
This is not mushy, to be clear, or at least it’s not meant to be. Music and words and pictures and the people who get it too are serious business for me, and when someone I see working very hard to maintain a high standard for herself – both creatively and in business – takes the time to bust me out on my own progress, I get the opposite of angry. And I think therein is my real point, and why I wanted to take my precious share of her real estate here to integrate the things I really dig about her into a story of how this space can connect us in ways that don’t suck. In fact, they can connect us in ways that are some of the most awesome I’ve ever seen. I left Denver that first time knowing I had a friend, a person from the same small, scrappy state who found a great home and an extended family in Colorado, where thankfully I can still send e-mails and visit. I can be influenced by her photos and her musical choices, which are much cooler than mine at this juncture, I assure you.
Maryland girls rock, some of us especially. It really should be known.