The arc of my friendship with Emerson is a beautiful one, though I’m tickled by the fact that I can’t remember how we initially connected. In reflection, this seems like a testament to what an experience with Emerson encapsulates: a strong commitment to being Here, Now. When spending time with Emerson, it feels like he’s really present with me and nowhere else. The entirety of who he is meets the entirety of who I am — and no need for bullshitting, no reason to smooth the rough parts. The past is sometimes be a reference point, the future a space of dreams and trifles, but when we share conversation, Emerson and I speak mostly of where we are. As a result, I’m able to really experience. I’m able to ground and share, see and smell and taste and hear and feel, without getting tangled up in a headspace that can tend toward rumination or anxiety or anticipation. I was struck immediately by this quality that Emerson brings to his life, and it continues to be something I treasure deeply.
Emerson has a deep appreciation for beauty. Beautiful things, beautiful experiences, beautiful people. But this doesn’t always look like a standard conception of beauty, and often, it’s the simplest of things that catch his attention. The curvature of the belly of an old car, the flavor of a perfectly cooked burger from his favorite dive bar (RIP, Winky’s!), the place a skirt hits a woman’s calf or thigh, the shimmering chords of a gritty rock song. His quiet appreciation for these things helps me remember how breathtaking even the most trivial experiences can be. It’s an invitation to marvel at the moment that, once again, keeps me focused on what really matters: THIS.
Emerson can also get really sad. It’s a soulful sad, a melancholic sad; a sad that doesn’t bring with it a whole lot of baggage, or backstory, or historical references. It is deeply genuine and alive, right here and now. In Emerson’s sadness, I feel the depth of his care for others. The layers of pain he feels, on behalf of the people he adores. I feel a despondency that comes not from a space of victimhood; that asks not for consolation, but just to be held and heard. When I experience Emerson in this state, in the midst of his heart breaking, I feel profoundly honored to hold space for him. He allows me to, in turn, be authentic, and express whatever’s going on for me with knowing that he’ll hold a safe, supportive, loving container.
Emerson is one of the most truthful people I’ve ever met. He doesn’t pretend. He doesn’t fool around. When he’s feeling something, he shows it: when he’s excited it’s bright and exhilarating, when he’s confused or displeased there’s an undeniable furrowed or arched brow. What a gift he gives through this honesty and straightforwardness! It allows him to be instantly, and always, believable. To me, it’s one of the deepest forms of respect one can show, and knowing that I can trust Emerson without fail leaves me giddy, humbled, and grateful.
Unfailingly loyal is yet another way I’d describe Emerson. He is a fiercely supportive partner and lover and friend: flanking strongly, defending and protecting. He is surprisingly affectionate, and game for adventures, and a fabulous companion for car rides. He speaks when he has things to say, but not just to fill the silence. This gift of intentional, heart-based conversation is another powerful indication of how much he respects honest connection — both in the lively times and the quiet one.
Emerson, I feel lucky to call you friend. Thanks for joining me on jaunts to Seattle and Sherwood and the Oregon Coast, for turning me on to all sorts of fabulous music, drinks, films, and TV shows, for teaching me the best squat techniques, for bringing me rotisserie chicken when I’m bedridden, for consistently letting me talk too loud in restaurants. You are a keeper, dear sir. Please choose an organization or charity for me to make a donation to on your behalf.