Baltimore writer Gay Jervey remembers her mother’s most enduring–and exciting–friendship.
Not long ago, I received the news that I had been dreading for months: Myra Shannonhouse, my honorary Godmother, ally and bridge to so much that had come to shape me, had died after the long, wrenching free fall that so frequently accompanies illness, old age and the kind of greedy bad luck that just won’t back down.
University of Baltimore MFA student Ian Anderson remembers his teenage summers at the beach with friends who were like brothers until they couldn’t be any longer.
I was sitting on the step in the garage of Greene’s Bike Rental with my summer friends, Dominic and Marty. Dominic was a year younger than me, wearing a long, white t-shirt and gym shorts—his uniform. Marty was a year older than me, but the shortest and with the kindest face. We were waiting for the cops to show up. Mr. Greene assured us the cops were coming, and our parents. I was 14 years old, an age whenangry parents are infinitely worse than anything the judicial system can offer. Mr. Greene kept walking around the garage, cursing, coming back to us, saying, “you little shits,” and then walking around again. I was scared. I think Marty and Dominic were, too, but they didn’t show it, so I didn’t either. The garage door was open, framing a blue sky with cotton candy clouds, the kind you see on postcards. The wind was coming in off the sea, cooling the streets of Wildwood, where my family rented an apartment above my grandmother’s beach house every summer. It was a beautiful day outside, but we were in the garage.
Last night was the opening of the new show at the American Visionary Art Museum, in which my friend from Woodstock, Steve Heller, has five pieces. I was extra excited about this because I introduced Steve to Rebecca Hoffberger, the director of the Visionary, whom I met at a dinner at Dudley Clendinen’s house five years ago.
Dudley! The thought of him gave me such a pang. One of the hard parts of losing someone is the way things just keep happening that you so wish the person could know about. At the time of Dudley’s death in May 2012, his niece Lucy Alibar had just released her movie, “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which ended up with four Oscar nominations. I could only hope they get Entertainment Weekly in heaven.
I pulled out a copy of Dudley’s book, A Place Called Canterbury, to show Steve and his wife Martha. Canterbury is the Tampa retirement home where Dudley’s mother spent the last part of her life. Dudley clocked 400 days and nights there with her, documenting how the first generation of super-old people was dealing with life in their 90s and beyond. His author photo is nothing but hot: classic features, tanned skin, a shock of gorgeous white hair, rock-star sunglasses.
He died without ever getting very old at all.
I met Dudley in 2008, about twenty-five years after he changed his whole life by quitting drinking, coming out, and leaving his wife all at once. I instantly loved him; he had a deep, luscious Southern accent, a courtly manner, and a wicked sense of humor. His apartment was like an outpost of the Visionary, the walls covered ceiling to floor with paintings, some by his partner, Josh Batten. You could generally find Dudley in the kitchen, scrambling eggs for a lunch party or baking cheese grits and a pork loin for dinner.
Baltimore author/playwright and UB instructor Kimberley Lynne is disturbed by the fact that the dead and gone never seem to depart Facebook — here’s what she proposes be done about this insensitive oversight.
Five of my Facebook friends have expired, yet occasionally a helpful sidebar will cheerily suggest: You haven’t talked to Greg in a long time, why don’t you send him a Starbucks gift card?
I’d love to, I think, but I hope he’s beyond those mortal concerns now.
My good friend Kathy Flann invited me to a wine party at her house in Hampden a couple of weeks ago. As much fun as I have with Kathy — she can make me crack up, even when everything’s wrong — I had mixed feelings about accepting the invitation. Some parties, you bring an extra bottle of wine or a bag of Doritos — not this one. Kathy wanted me to print my General Maryland Will and consider carefully its finer points before I left the house.