My most recent flashback moment was provide by Facebook. Ok, not Facebook so much as a few of my California friends who were making treks up to The Getty Museum to check of the “Herb Ritts: L.A. Style” exhibit.
In a mere flash, I was brought back to 1997.
More specifically to some flashy LA “A List” event I had the fortune to be at. I was 32 and a bit blase about it all, as such events were fairly normal for me in 1997. Dressed in my perfect black Versace suit (creme shirt and matching tie, very a la mode of the time) while perusing a vast silent auction, cocktail in hand, i happened upon the chance to have Herb Ritts personally autograph a copy of his tome “Work“.
It took me a whopping 5 seconds to determine that I HAD to have this item (being a huge photography buff, Herb Ritts was – and is – quite iconic in my mind). So, 2 hours and multiple bid sheet checks later, it was mine. I can’t recall what the final tab was or how the book actually made it to my possession, just that when his assistant called me to verify my name I was aghast. When the book actually showed up, i was in love. Clearly, Mr. Ritts took “Personalization” seriously.
So now, 15 years later; Mr. Ritts has passed on; the guy who was my boyfriend at the time is long, long gone too (shortly after this event actually, as the Versace Suit and my auction perusing were both signs of malcontent); The Versace suit lived a longer life and just left me several years ago… but the book.. well, it sits on my coffee table. It’s less a memory of an evening and more a reminder of the artist I admire. An artist who I just-almost-practically crossed paths with once.
Realizing one of the sections of this blog people look at the most are the photos from days gone by, this past weekend I set about looking to update the “Those Were the Days…” images. (It’s not such a task; given all of our moving this past year our photos are stored, semi organized and reasonably close at hand.) Anyway, I go and open a box and there, on the top, is a picture of my dear friend Elsie and I at Disneyland in the early 90s. As a point of reference, that would have made me in my later 20s? Not much older than Arielle is now.
Now, while I could sit and start on about our obvious youth or make comments about how we look to be a couple (we got a lot of that back then), my attention is more focused on our (matching) sweatshirts. These particular sweatshirts were incentives for having been involved with an AIDS Dance-a-thon in LA. To earn them, Elsie and I danced (along with Madonna that particular year) for “x” amount of time at the Sports Arena. In return – as if to prove we were incapable of dancing much – Our friends and families paid us money. (well, minus my family, who were stuck in AIDS/HIV fear at the time). These funds were then donated to an AIDS organization. It really was rather like going to a dance club. A dance club that helped people. It was fun and we had a great time dancing and smoking between songs. (Hey! it was the 9os!!)
This experience wasn’t a lark for us: we had both been working diligently with the Orange County AIDS Service Foundation delivering food to people who were home bound. At this time, AIDS and HIV had a grasp – a death grip actually – over our communities. Elsie and I were committed to doing our part. It was, as they say, just what we did in those days.
Back to the present day: right behind this particular image was a photo taken at my wedding in 1987. There, right next to me and my friend Scott sits Stephen.
Stephen. Stephen who passed away in 2010. Stephen who was serio-converting while Elsie and I were dancing our asses off. Stephen who provided the motivation for me to ride a bike 545 miles. Stephen, whom I miss to this very day.
So, while (as they also say) “A picture is worth a thousand words”, *this* photo is worth a thousand memories.
I take that back; it’s worth a million.