Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Abbott Bar

I was recently lying awake at night thinking about my next soap adventures, my day, and my best friend Erica. Erica was a roommate in college, a neighbor in Brooklyn, a Godmother to my first son, and a best friend.

(College Roommates) 

(Brooklyn Neighbors)

(Luke's Godmother)

(Best friend. Erica and I are both wearing the friendship bracelet she made me -- it was awesome but she overshot my size and made it super huge!)

Unfortunately for the world, Erica's life was cut short. Erica was struck while riding her bike in Bushwick, Brooklyn and did not survive.

(Luke and Erica's father lighting candles next to her ghost bike.)

She was 29. I remember this distinctly because the last time I saw her was days before at a friend's wedding and she and I, as weddings go, were rolling pretty deep. Erica kept saying, "I'm 30 years old!" to which I would say, "You JUST turned 29!" In our wedding-induced state, I'm not sure she was listening.

(The last night Erica and I were together -- our good friend's wedding!)

Erica was born a Catholic but had taken a vow of Buddhism about six months before she passed.

(A Memorial for Erica at her Buddhist Temple. Picture of her holding Luke top left.)

When I asked her to be the Godmother to my son, a role which she took VERY seriously, she consulted with one of her spiritual leaders on how to balance Catholicism and Buddhism. He told her to think of herself as Luke's spiritual guide, whatever denomination that meant. This juxtaposition can be clearly seen in her gift choices for Luke's Christening. One, a book called Namaste, in which she inscribed the following:

And a vintage record and Jesus paper doll set. Erica started thinking that she better start to save up for Luke's graduation because as a Godmother, she would have to give him a fat check in 18 years. We told her this was not the case and our smarty will likely be a regular Doogie Howser so that graduation might come in a tender 15 years. Cutting him a slice of his sugary cake at the graduation party would be more than sufficient.

On the day that Erica died, she had called her mother and called me as well. I would have been at work but my school was closed from the damage of hurricane Irene. I'm always grateful that I was home for that call instead of a message on the machine when I got home. It might have been too late to call hr back at that point. We looked at wedding dresses together, me on my computer in the Catskills and she on hers in Brooklyn. We made plans for the upcoming weekend (my birthday, and maybe wedding dress shopping -- who knows?) and left it at that.

(Erica and I sharing a drink The Lady & The Tramp style sometime in college)

(On our way to see the Martha Stewart show - whaaaatt!)

(Taking a picture with the stranger next to us in a fancy restaurant)

Erica was on her way to a meeting with her Buddhist companions to plan an upcoming charity to benefit others in need. Erica didn't make it to that meeting. She had a helmet on and was not a risk-taker. So I am sure she was riding at a reasonable speed.

After someone passes dreams can be very kind or horrendous. I've had both very upsetting dreams about the details of Erica's death and also very comforting dreams where Erica has told me, "Don't worry, we can always hang out in your dreams," and, "I am ALWAYS with you."

As time passed, these dreams -- both the good and bad -- lessened and lessened. I remember a poignant dream at this time when Erica's mom was with me and we were taking the pictures off of the walls of her apartment. I really, really didn't want to but if Erica's mom felt it was time then I would help her take the pictures down. This was really symbolic to me about accepting that Erica no longer lives in that East Williamsburg apartment.

(The only picture I could find inside of Erica's apartment. I guess we went out a lot. This was Halloween.)

Erica's apartment was a haven for fun and adventure. She always had a healthy, adventurous meal prepared when I came over with it chosen specifically to my tastes and preferences. Sometimes the meals were a little out-there (bone marrow, anyone?) but there was certainly not a Kraft Mac-and-Cheese box in sight.

(Erica and I working on a "fancy Christmas dinner" for eleven of our friends in college)

Back to the present night when I was lying awake thinking of whatever entered my mind, I started thinking about Erica's apartment. I also started to think of my previous post about scent and memory. I thought about how Erica liked to wear Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel and how her apartment always smelled lively. I wanted to try to make a scent combination that would transport me to that apartment with Erica. Making chocolate chip cookies from scratch and mixing them by hand because Erica swore that, "It tastes better that way." Whiffs of the Coco Mademoiselle and Erica's dried flowers she kept in jars behind her stove.

At this time of year, if Erica was still with us I would likely be baking a cake for her 33rd birthday. I wanted to honor her life somehow in the present. Although my dreams have made me take the pictures down in her apartment in my mind, that she is still very present here on Earth.

(Erica and her pops)

Making this soap was very meditative and personal. The scent is a combination of earthy vanilla, floral lavender and rose, and bright, lively lemon.

The top is dotted with dried flowers, just like the ones Erica had in jars behind her stove: lavender, rose, and calendula.

Inside are layers to mimic a mountainous skyline. The Himalayan mountains was a spot that Erica was planning to travel to but never got the opportunity. This was all in my mind while making this soap. Lastly, I stamped the soap with a gold A. Erica had this tattooed on her arm and after she passed, many got this tattoo in honor of her.

Each package will come with a tag explaining that the cost of this bar will go to Free Tibet and a the quote that Erica wrote in my son's book that she gave to him for his Christening.

The will be available on her birthday: June 28th.

Best Friends Never End.

Donate to Free Tibet while receiving an Abbott Bar: