If it’s been quiet around here lately, it’s because, on Saturday, June 12th, I got news that I’d lost a friend to a sudden, shocking death. Calling Tim a “friend” is like saying life is “interesting”. As I said in my Facebook post, “my friend, ex-boyfriend, partner in crime, and perennial pain-in-my-ass has died”.
He was (chronologically) an acquaintance, a flirt, a whiskey-drinking buddy, an accomplice, a friend, my boyfriend…something complicated. We broke up almost exactly 12 months ago under circumstances that now feel downright eerie. I’ve spent a lot of the time since then angry at him, which makes all of this more awful and complicated. We were getting to be friends again, but we never seemed to be in the same place at the same time.
That said, when it was good between us, it was fucking great.
He knew me all too well, could make me laugh till I peed, and knew precisely how to push my buttons.
I started this blog when we weren’t speaking. When we started talking and texting again, I sent him the link to this site. He said it was “not complete and utter crap like most blogs.” That’s a high compliment from Tim.
A lot of our relationship has been punctuated by music. I can’t begin to count the number of shows we were at together, and before I sat down to write this, I didn’t realize how much of our lives were shared around music.
We saw X and John Doe out in Forrest Grove in 2005. When he decided to start flirting with me, he sent me a picture he took of me at that show.
I have the poster from the Okkervil River show in September 2008 on my fridge. It’s warped and splattered. That show was the first one just the two of us went to together. We ran into some mutual friends who started to wonder what was going on between us — well before we had any idea.
He was on my first trip to Austin in 2007 to the ACL Festival. Those are some of the only pictures I have of him (including the one above, one of my favorites. He was definitely checking his phone).
Last year, when we were dating, we went to Seattle and saw Leonard Cohen – one of the more memorable shows of my life. That weekend, we also went to our friend Jared’s band, The Radio Nationals, reunion show. We left right before Kiefer Sutherland showed up at the High Dive, but we did see Lily Tomlin checking into our hotel when we got home.
We were at 2008′s Capitol Hill Block Party together in Seattle, and were supposed to attend 2009′s, but we broke up. I had asked him to maintain radio silence, but he texted me from the roof of Neumo’s at the Block Party anyway. He liked to do that sort of thing because it drove me crazy.
He rescued me from walking home in heels in a snowstorm in December 2009. We hadn’t spoken in months, but he got in his SUV, drove to where I was, handed me a beer, and dropped me at my front door without comment.
I was at lunch with him in April when I found out I was having a niece.
We saw Two Cow Garage open for Richmond Fontaine in early 2009, which re-ignited my interest in Two Cow and Micah Schnabel.
There’s a CD sitting on my desk right now with his handwriting on it. (It says something about power ballads.)
At August 2009′s Music Fest NorthWest, we got in an epic fight at the Frightened Rabbit show. One of the last times I saw him was at May 2010′s Frightened Rabbit show. The last time I did see him was at our friend GTB’s band’s reunion show on June 5th, a week before his death.
He was probably at every Drive-By Truckers show I ever attended as well as each Hold Steady concert, including the one where they played together and I set my hair on fire. (Mom, don’t ask.) The last time we had brunch, he was wearing the Jack Daniels t-shirt I got at the free Hold Steady show at the Crystal, sometime in early 2009 – the first time he kissed me in front of our friends.
For my 30th birthday he bought me a bottle of Blanton’s. I wish I’d kept the cork.
In the last 12 days, I’ve spent a bunch of time frenetically trying to remember, outline and understand our relationship over the last handful of years.
I’m sorry I ever took him for granted. I’m sorry I was mad at him when he died.
I am thankful that we had a relationship that included salt-water taffy; whiskey; pictures of rabbits, wombats and other cute animals; a naked bike ride; him calling me “Chica” and me calling him “Boy”; a Portland vs. Seattle NY-style pizza taste-off; him making me hike while hungover and golf in my pj’s; and a great amount of laughter. He called me by my middle name cause it made me insane. He took me to Seattle and the coast and the only time he ever got in my car it was to drive the five blocks from his house to mine. We were going to go to Mexico and drive from Austin to New Orleans, but those — among many things — did not happen.
We were at a Lucero show the first time he said he loved me. He turned away from the stage to look at me and said “I love you, F. I can’t help it.” Like it was something he didn’t want to happen; I completely understood.
He didn’t have ketchup in his house, but he had 81 kinds of hot sauce.
He would sometimes let me pick the CD in the car, but I was never allowed to eat in it.
He jump-started my car twice before I told him I had AAA.
His beloved late pet rabbit was named after Leonard Cohen.
Several friends remember him dropping off mix CDs on their doorsteps after their first conversation about music. I remember us leaving apple fritters for each other after we had a fight. I don’t think he ever made me a mix, but he always asked for mine.
When I had the flu he delivered a basket full of oranges, soup, Emergen-C, a Chuck Klosterman book I’d wanted to replace, and The Replacement’s album Tim.
He hated the weather.
He loved Maker’s Mark.
I would give anything to have one last brunch with him.
I will spend the rest of my life, or at least my tenure in Portland, waiting for him to walk into the bar, the party, the show.
The only time this week I’ve felt like I was able to do something constructive about his death and this confounding grief was when our mutual friend asked for music suggestions for a DVD he was putting together. I sent him a few, and then put this mix together.
So here’s my compilation for/about Tim. It’s imperfect, but so was he, and so were we. I could write a paragraph about each song, but sometimes it’s best to stop talking and listen to music.
This is the only way I know how to do anything about this.
This is for Tim, with piles of grief, regret and love.