"Make Love to the Camera"

"Make love to the camera!" It was in response to a question of mine by my dear friend, I'll call her BL (Beautiful Lady) for this post.

"Why do you always look good in pictures?", I asked. I will never forget her answer, "Make love to the camera"

I've tried since then, and always have that quote in the back of my mind, but even though I have tried to "Make love to the camera", I still fail miserably:)

My girlfriend, BL, has been a major influence in my life. We met in my early 20s when I was in a band called Swampass-Yes you read that right!... Swampass)

She was going through a divorce, and I was trying to work out my religious/conservative side....so basically we were both going through a lot of trauma!

The band, Swampass, was a conglomeration of friends that all had instruments and basically wanted free beer/alcohol. It was an ever changing group of members. (I had this idea that we would have T-shirts with a donkey looking at you over his behind in the middle of a swamp. The band talked about releasing an album that would be called the Goldbond tour with the B side single being Crotch Itch!) Like I said we were in our 20s.....and we were serious rednecks, so we thought this was funny.

Anyway, we'd play parties, and BL would come to dance. She loves to dance, and she was our first real groupie!

We moved on from band member-groupie friendship to something more sustainable when she asked me to meet her at the Hungry Bear, a local pub in Bradford, Vermont.

She had become a coach for Run Girl Run(now called Girls on the Run)-a program that taught 4th-8th grade girls how to train for running, choose healthy snacks, and promoted good self-esteem.

After that meeting with her, I joined the group as her co-coach, and we became

fast (notice the pun:) friends.

That summer we started hanging out at Middle Earth, a listening room in Bradford, Vermont. Don't look for it, it's not there anymore, but it was great while it lasted....and yes the construction was all patterned after the books. (This is pre-movie folks-check out some images on the link).

We had never heard of a listening room before, but got the concept pretty early on to stop being shushed all the time.

We met great people that we nicknamed Telephone Tom, Sexy Randy (we had a brief hangout period, his hair was babyfine!) Bobby Bare (Grateful Dead fanatic), Pumping Pete (for his ability to bike up steep hills and never get winded) Hippie Brian (he had long, long dreads), Frenchie, Stan the Man, Meat-man Jim, Walker, Sky, Sue, Sara, Heather, Senayit, and many others.....

Funny only the males had knicknames-a tradition that I utilize today with all my Tinder dates!

A year or two went by and my core group of females: Heather, Sue, BL, and myself decided to go to Canada on a camping trip. It was during that trip, that BL and I realized we really liked traveling together. No plans, no itinerary, fly by the seat of our pants, that was the beginning of a very special friendship. After that trip, we decided to camp together every summer.

During our travels, we would talk about our past current and future loves, beliefs, and life in general, but love was always a big topic for us. We were easy going. We didn't care what the destination was, as long as beer was involved at the end of the day, a beautiful sunset on the water, and soul-searching conversations. She'd pick me up at the airport in New Hampshire, and we'd just head out with no particular destination in mind. First we traveled in her camper (Beluga), then her car after she sold the white vanagon. We'd head wherever the wind would take us. Usually towards freshwater lakes of varying size from Lake Champlain to Lake Ontario...camping all the way.

We came across a haunted graveyard on some class 3 road in Canada. (Think dirt path that a car can barely travel on that you need to wade through puddles to make sure the car doesn't get stuck or submerged-yes I literally did that as she drove slowly behind me). We passed 100s of windmills in northern New York, stopped by a vodka distillery that was an old converted firehouse in the Catskills.

We drank at wineries and ate at small town diners on the Finger Lakes, rode trains and sunned on the beaches in Toronto.....what?!

We took pictures of funny signs in Burlington, scared away grape eating raccoons, visited breweries galor, a saké winery, and watched as fresh blueberries danced in our beers. We enjoyed live mudwrestling (only they used chocolate pudding since it was during their chocolate festival), kissed young Frenchmen, (her, not me....I was still trying to make love to the camera:) battled an almost electrical fire in the Beluga, dried our asses via the new high powered hand drier called the Xcelerator. (Ok that was me, she was still making out with the Frenchman), enjoyed grilled blueberry muffins and hazlenut coffee, skinny-dipped with all our friends from Middle Earth, and sang the 'camel-toe song'...thanks Walker. 'Du-du-doo-du-du-doo-du-dudududu-doodu-doo' (so-so-sol-mi-re-do-do-do-do-do-re-do-doh....something like that all you solfegers)

There was the summer that she drove to Louisville, where I live now, and camped out along the way....all by herself. We had a great weekend full of music, catching up, and trying out new beer places. Her independent spirit, led me to head to a music festival by myself, and campout. (I had friends that were playing at the fest, so I wasn't totally alone, but I did go and camped by myself.) It was great!

When I look back on the most influential people in my life, she comes to mind first. She was there during my most emotionally growing times. She's one of those friends that no matter how much time has gone by since we last met or spoke, we immediately fall back in and it feels like no time has gone by.

Things are different now with Covid and some other reasons that keep us apart, but she will always be my dearest friend, and one of the greatest influences in my life. I love you Ceil!