Monday, November 30, 2009

I miss my next-door neighbor.

It's so warm, I almost forgot it was Thanksgiving, until my flatmate invited us to an American Thanksgiving potluck hosted by the Carter Center.

Nate and I were both reeling from typhoid and just recovered from malaria, so we got there with the strategy: stand in line, eat and go. We brought Tupperware for our leftovers and I snagged a piece of homemade pumpkin pie for dessert. We greeted most of our new Monrovia friends and wanted to socialize but just didn't have the energy. We ate stuffing and pie later that night and watched anime until we feel asleep early.

I haven't written very much about New York, where I used to live, on this blog. But Thanksgiving makes me think of Fred. In Rockaway Beach (NYC), where Nate and I shared Bungalow 8 Million (you hear me) with our friends and other surfers, Fred was my next-door neighbor. It didn't take long for us to warm to each other. That first winter when we shared the bungalow, Fred was the one smoking on the stoop, always calling me crazy when I went out to surf wearing a face greased with Vaseline, booties, gloves and earplugs. He has a taste for cold beers and blackberry brandy, and never came to visit us without at least two plates of ribs, pork, beans, rice, steak, you name it. The man can cook.

Fred is one of the best people I met during my time in America, and I consider him family. You can see us here at our going away party in May, demonstrating the use of homemade numchuks he constructed himself when he was coming up in East New York in 80's (he'd gifted them to Nate on an earlier birthday and we have them in Liberia -- they're right by the plant and the bedside table). In the photo, I'm standing in the back of Boarder's, the next-door surf shop. A bunch of us were play-fighting on the benches (I think it's on YouTube) and Fred cleared the place by coming in (expertly) swinging the numchucks. I was the only one who stuck around.

I miss hanging out with Fred on my way out the door or coming back, talking about whether there were any blues in the water yet and planning our days. I miss hearing from him late at night how to cook certain meats (his specialty) or seeing him take over our kitchen whenever we hosted friends. On Thanksgiving, he always brought us such a generous plate that all of Bungalow 8 Million could eat for a week.

So Fred, when you read this (because I know my sister will make you, gracias hermanita), come and visit. You'd like it here. I promise.


  1. I remember Fred. He saved me from freezing to death on the stoop of Bungalow Eight Million. He's a hero.

  2. Yay Fred! I remember all that meat... he's a great cook.

  3. Claro, se lo ensenare! Fred, you totally need to make it over to Liberia.


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