© 2012 Timmy Tamisiea. All rights reserved. Milw-Marq-Helfaer-806323

189/365 – My Friend, PR.

The minute I knew I was moving from NYC to Chicago, I tried to cram everything into two months.  I went to all the museums I missed.  I visited all the friends I had made.  I ate at all those places I said I’d always go to.  It’s just how leaving a place is — you spend all your “normal” time there silently and secretly taking it for granted . . . And then the nostalgia instinct kicks in.  You realize, hey, this is it.  I may not get another chance.

Last August, I was prepping for my wedding, getting set for a bachelor party and trying to figure out a job situation.  I knew back then, though, that I would be moving to Los Angeles the next May.  The nostalgia instinct hadn’t kicked in quite yet.  I wasn’t about to kick off to The Art Institute or have dinner at The Signature Room.  I was just too mired in the day to day activities of a husband to be.  I did know, however, that a very good friend of mine could not make it to the wedding.  She had waged a fight with cancer and won a few years back.  But little did we all know then that her fight was only one battle in a long war — and the war was had come back.  She was losing.

So, I knew back then that I needed to get up to Milwaukee and visit my friend.  So, for the past 9 months, I have tried and tried.  Hell, she’s only an hour and fifteen minutes away, it shouldn’t be that hard.  Well, it’s been that hard.  Five attempts and no dice . . . Every time I made plans, she just couldn’t do it.  Naturally, as May has gotten closer, I, too, was finding time t be a limited resource.  BUt time, in these matters, should be a after thought.  I knew that if i didn’t get up to Milwaukee this weekend, I would never get up there.

I borrowed a car and made my way to Beer City.  The place of my college years.  The city where I first fell in love and first got schnockered on cheap booze.  Also, the city where a certain woman made me confront my potential.  Not see it.  That’s lame.  Seeing your potential allows you to forget about it while never really accessing it.  Confronting it make you dive right into that cold, deep end of the pool called fear.  She pushed me in . . . and it was exhilarating.

When I was a Junior at Marquette University, studying theatre, I had mainly performed comedy.  While today, I have pretty much settled into that realm of entertainment, there was a time when someone made me CONFRONT the idea at I could do more.  Much more.  My Milwaukee friend was a new teacher at Marquette.  She was put in charge of directing Hedda Gabler.  When I auditioned, I was sure I’d get a pass and start auditioning for more comedy roles.  She saw something different and cast me in my first dramatic role; George Tessman.  It changed my life.

She always saw something in me that I didn’t.  She saw things that a self conscious young man didn’t.  I mean, most good actors are just scared 5 year olds screaming for attention because everything scares the shot out of them.  She was there to reign that bull shit in.  And she did.  Roll after roll, she got me to see confront more and more of my potential.  From acting to writing to filmmaking, she never let me get away with anything.  It may have seemed that she was the sweet lady who helped us students scamper along . . . Maybe she used her husband to tell me that I needed to stop worrying and start acting . . . but I think for a lot of my classmates, she has always been in the wings, long after college, pushing us forward towards the potential she knew we had.

Since I met her, I knew that when it came to art, I could do anything I wanted.  When it came to my potential, I only had to jump in, not just stare at it.  Her encouragement, her belief in me is what gave me the courage to move to NYC when I was 22.  It was what made me audtion for roles like Richard III.  Her advice and insight is what led me to believe I could make films.  Even today, as I sat with her and her husband and showed them my films, her evaluation of them was wondrous.

I will miss having that rock to lean on.  Someone who sees the value in a person without the distractions of comparisons to everyone else.  My visit with her and her husband was like any visit.  I didn’t layer any rush or sentimentality on it.  I didn’t treat it as a final visit.  I treated it, inadevrtantly, as just another stop by their house for a cup of tea and some good conversation.  I showed her pictures form the wedding she could not attend.  We watched two of my films.  We just shot the shit.  When I left, there was a million things I felt should have said.  Important, potent things.  On the car ride home it hit me like a ton of bricks that this visit, as wonderfully normal as it was, it was also probably the last.

As she shuffled up to her bedroom, her strength only being available for small stretches of time, she said, goodbye and told me she loved me.  I said, “See you later.”  I regretted that later.  And yet, even later than that, realized it was better that way.  It was the normalcy of the whole visit that I needed.  Maybe she needed it too.  Maybe not.  In any case, she would have said she loved me whether her battle was coming to an end or not.  There’s so much I could write here, so many anecdotes and specificities, but my emotional strength is fading.  That comes from years of losing people close to me — a kind of emotional safe guard, booby trapping my emotions so not to bring on a flood of emotions.

So, all I’ll say is, I love you too, professor.  Thank you.

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