When I graduated from college, my first job was in customer service at a publishing company in Florence, KY. We shipped books from our warehouse and worked with the publisher in New York.
That’s where I met Carl – the most kind, fearless and fabulous person I would ever know.
Carl came down to train us and he and I were cubicle mates.
Now at that time in my life, I was a bit lost and adrift in life.
I didn’t really know what I wanted to do for work. I was at odds with my parents. My love life was full of drama and mess. I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere and was about to spiral down a deep, dark hole.
Then Carl showed up.
Carl and I became inseparable. We were thick as thieves.
We went dancing in the clubs. Carl would put on a silver metallic dress and heels and walk down the streets of Cincinnati at night in the early 90s without a care in the world.
I was in awe of him. And he looked better than me in that dress.
I’m not sure any of us that knew him in KY had ever encountered a spirit so open and so free. He was so kind and so fun – that everyone loved him.
I had always felt different – but Carl made me feel that it was O.K. to be different.
It was in fact, amazing.
I would spend the night in his apartment in downtown Cincinnati. He couldn’t sleep without the sound of traffic and sirens at night from his time living in New York City. That intrigued me. I had seen little of the world, so I asked him to take me to New York.
Since he had lived there, he took me to all of the best places – the best hole in the wall Chinese restaurant, the underground clubs, the best bagel shop.
We marched through the streets in the New York City Gay Pride Parade with thousands of people. I nearly cried with joy. I felt so alive and free.
We lost touch for several years until social media showed up. Then he was my Facebook friend for many years. I was so happy to see his smiling face again. I deeply loved Carl.
Three years ago, I had a business trip to CT. I thought, Carl! It was my chance to see him again! I contacted him and we made plans. We went out to dinner and then sat outside my hotel by a firepit talking for hours like old times. I think I cried and hugged him repeatedly before watching him drive away.
Now, he’s gone – which feels unreal.
He was really looking forward to Wonder Woman coming out on Christmas Day.
I was very angry at God that Carl didn’t get to see Wonder Woman. But, now, I think maybe God let Carl be Wonder Woman – he would have the most fabulous angel costume in heaven.
Carl used to wear this cologne called Angel. I bought a bottle of it once and sometimes I wear it to remind me of him.
He may be an Angel now. But, the truth is – he was always my Angel.
I don’t think I would have had the courage I have had in my life without his example.
I wouldn’t be the girl that showed up at work in an Elf costume or the girl that traveled to Europe or the girl that got artificially inseminated or the girl that wrote a book.
My world would be smaller.
And the world will be smaller now that he’s gone.
But it will always be more magnificent for him having been here.