I have a weird habit of remembering other people’s memories. For example, whenever I hear any song from XTC’s Skylarking, I remember the time three high school friends went to Dewey Beach, despite the fact that I didn’t go on that trip, because afterwards each time that record got played one of them would say “Wow, this totally reminds me of that time we were at the beach,”until it got to the point where when I hear that record or even think about it I remember a place I never was, and for a moment feel a towel under my ass and smell salt under a bright sky.
And so when I am cooking and I reach for the jar of bay leaves, I think of Jim. I never heard him talk of bay leaves myself, but I have heard Clay and Megan tell the story of Jim saying “I love a good bay leaf” so many times that as I type this I can see the particular expression they both make when they tell that story! puzzled and delighted and so very full of love -- the exact same expression despite being on two very different faces. Whenever I am putting bay leaves in the sauce, I think of Jim and wish I could ask him exactly why he was so fond of them, and if it matters if the leaf has a chunk missing from the side or not.
I did not know Jim as intimately as everyone else – most of our interactions were in groups, in bars, most always with other people around. Nevertheless, I can truthfully say that on some kind of limbic level I trusted Jim more than almost anyone I’ve ever met. When I was falling in love with Clay, it was, on some level, the fact that he considered Jim one of his best friends that told my insides that this man is a good man; you may continue to fall.
Jim and Megan came with us to City Hall to the day we semi-secretly got legally married so I could put Clay on my health insurance. After the hitching we proceeded to play drunken hooky at the Odeon, the Tribeca Grand, and all over