Tamara, a friend that was really more like a sister to me, died unexpectedly early May 10th. She was 42 years old. This has been a really hard week.
We used to text and or/talk to each other every day. That last week we were talking about Lemonade – she found herself quoting it in everyday conversation and I joked about her being sucked into the Beyhive. We were excited about the summer. Any day now we were going to pull out our calendars to plan our annual beach trip and figure out which prides we were going to hit.
The beach trip would probably have been Asbury Park. I always fixed up the cooler with sandwiches, fruit and drinks. Martina drove. Tamara would bring the chips. She enjoyed finding new, weird snacks for us to try. If we liked something, she would smirk and refuse to divulge where she got it from. It was most likely Trader Joe’s—she loved that place.
Tamara and I met online, in some AOL chat room about 20 years ago. We were part of the same email group-Sistahnet- and she said “hi” because she recognized my screen name/email address. We met in the flesh in 1997 at Black Gay Pride DC. It was a meeting that almost didn’t happen because of a misunderstanding. (I was 24, she was 23 and we hadn’t quite gotten to the “no more drama” stage of our lives.) However, I showed up on her doorstep, we talked it out and have been buddies ever since.
Traveling was one of her favorite things. When Jet Blue had it’s All You Can Jet promotion, she took advantage of it and visited several cities in 30 days. Every place she visited, she had a list of things to do and places to explore. She had lobster ice cream in Cape Cod, in San Francisco she sat quietly with the redwood trees in Muir Woods. She took photos of raccoons in Vancouver, British Columbia—despite rabies warnings posted on the fence.
Tamara got away from organized religion as soon as her grandmother couldn’t make her go to church anymore. She had rituals – celebrating nature/the equinoxes. On Facebook, this is how she described her religious beliefs: Doing the right thing without a promise of heaven or a threat of hell.
Last year, Tamara was right next to Martina when I came out of surgery. I wasn’t sure it was going to happen until the morning of. I told her it was happening—and she was there.
She always claimed that she didn’t like horror movies. Sappy, romantic lgbt films were her favorite. Yet, she’d text me when Friday the 13th was on—because she was watching it…
Tamara has heard all of my weird, awesome, goofy ideas and strange ideas.
I’m going to miss her.