Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Happy Birthday Timmy, Love Emily

Memories of Tim

Summer of 1992 (I think)
One of the first times I met Tim, he was reciting Pop Ice ingredients---the entire list, mind you--- in Edie and Myers’ Hicks’ musty macramé-filled living room. We ate a lot of Pop Ice that summer, sometimes a pack a-piece per night. Tim perfected the technique of biting the top off the plastic Popsicle tubes. We played many rounds of flashlight tag in Edie’s closets full of moth-balled polyester fashions. Remember the door chimes that play hymns? Ooooh, creepy.

July 1997
My most vivid memories of Tim have happened in Mexico. One Sunday with Tim in Oaxaca stands out in my mind. It was a day out of National Geographic magazine. Tim, Annette, Scott Murphy and I started out at Monte Alban, taking a tour of the ruins with an old Zapotec man. Tim and Annette translated the “authentic” tour, not like the tourista ones, the old man promised. He told us the rumored history of the abstract symbols created when St. Thomas visited Mexico and had warned against using pagan symbols of animals and gods. Our guide showed us how the remaining paintings had deteriorated in recent years. His pride in the history was evident, as well as his sadness at the state of the disappearing artwork. All during the tour a nearby Catholic church was blasting its service through the open air, as if to include the countryside in its service.

On our way from Monte Alban we stopped by the road to have rose petal ice cream, which Tim insisted we try. He was our gourmet guide throughout the trip, foisting all kinds of strange delicacies (?) on us: roasted grasshoppers, pomegranate seeds, “tuna” (cactus) fruit, Oaxacan tamales, chicken with mole sauce, Oaxacan chocolate, pork tortes, dried chili mangoes, tortilla soup. I can see Tim now with a roasted grasshopper’s legs hanging out of his mouth.

I was really interested in all the handicrafts Oaxaca is known for, including rug-making. Tim and Annette had commissioned a local artist to make a rug for them, and Tim decided I should meet him. We arrived at his house unannounced, but the peg-legged old man was happy to host us, even though we had interrupted a charismatic church service going on inside. The rugmaker gave us a tour through his studio while again Tim and Annette translated. This rugmaker used only pure wool and natural “Christian” dyes that he made himself. Reds came from smushed dead bugs found on a special cactus. Browns and grays came from brown and gray sheep. I couldn’t afford a rug, but the rugmaker let me take a small bit of yarn as a souvenir.

We ended the day by visiting the tree with the largest girth in the Western Hemisphere. We had to hold back Scott from climbing it.

At the end of that trip, both Tim and I got sick. Maybe too much street vendor food. Scott and Annette visited the volcano outside Toluca while Tim and I slept on and off, rousing to watch a nature video and hit the bathroom. For hours we listened to the chk chk chk of the man cutting the lawn with a machete. Thankfully I was feeling better by the time Scott and I had to leave the next day.

Early September 2001 (the week before 9/11)
On my next trip to Mexico I came with Todd, my boyfriend at the time. Although many memories from the trip stand out, one of the best was another National Geographic day arranged by Tim. We bounded over the hills in Tim and Annette’s Explorer on our way to Veracruz, stopping to buy honey, take pictures of sabus and sprouting fence-posts, get water and sandwiches. Tim knew someone who knew someone who happened to own a vanilla plantation outside Veracruz. It was not normally open to the public, but as usual, Tim could talk our way into a personal private tour free of charge. One of the family owners, a young man currently in business school, drove us up into the mountains to see the prized plants. They are so valuable that one vanilla bean is worth more than a day’s wages in Mexico, and the fruit is harvested with armed guards standing by. The orchid-like plants grow at the base of orange trees in the dark soil and thick, humid air of Veracruz.

Other trip highlights: fried squash blossoms tacos in the orange and lime-painted restaurant; the Veracruz dungeon/ port tour; meeting Tim and Annette’s favorite artist at the Mexico art fair---and buying his paintings; the Coco Loco hotel---with AC; crabs running across the road to the black-sand beach; dancing in the living room in Toluca; wondering if Todd was showing Tim a picture of my engagement ring (to be received a couple of weeks later) on the internet.

The qualities that I admire: Tim is so full of creative energy, so funny, and so outside the box.

Happy Birthday, Timmy! Love, Emily


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