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My house never feels more like a home than when it’s brimming with people I love. Recently, my A-List (Retta, Kathy, Alan and Tina) had the opportunity to get together–for the first time in five years! And it was magical (as usual). I’ve written about this beloved motley crew before.They are–each one of them individually and all of them together–a piece of my heart. Just the possibility of the five of us getting together set my pulse racing for weeks.

But once our LA girl, Retta, had confirmed her Midwest trip back home and our pal Al in St. Louis planned to be in Chicago during her trip, the stars aligned. And in the weeks leading up to the gathering, I felt a warmth in my heart unique to these 4–my nearest and dearest–who were finally, blissfully and luckily able to be together.

Retta arrived at my place a day early. And I greedily devoured one-on-one time with this beauty. That autumn weekend, the weather cooperated and let us sit on the patio long past sun down, having snacks, sipping martinis and connecting in the way two friends do when they are in such close and rare proximity. The years we’ve known each other washed over us, steeping us in familiarity, love and friendship. Having her to myself is a treat I relish–as it doesn’t happen nearly often enough!

We ran some errands and did some exploring on Saturday morning–the day I’d been looking forward to! When we returned home we were greeted by the aroma of the chili I’d set up in the slower cooker before we left. I love that. I’ve had a crock pot since my early 20s. Coming home on a cold day and smelling the warmth of comfort food and having it envelop you…it triggers something. Like someone has been cooking for you all day. It’s basically love.

Our gang began arriving one by one later that evening. Coming together physically trumps everything. No matter how hard we work to stay connected…touching each other. Hugging each other. Laughing and hearing each other’s voices harass each other in concert is the kind of salve that soothes and heals any ailment I’ve ever had.

When we were last together in our entirety, it was just two months after Ken died in 2011. That summer is a bit of a blur so I don’t even recall how it all came together, but what I do know is I never needed them more. That they came together to sit in the back yard of the old apartment (where’d gathered twice before–2007 and 2008) and gently apply the salve to my fractured heart that only our bond can supply was what I needed–possibly more than anything else. It righted me. It reminded me of things that are easily discarded when faced with loss.

We’ve all experienced a treasure trove of life’s challenges since we met at Second City all those years ago. And we’ve been there for to stand beside each other; to listen; to swill cocktails; to apply healing laughter. This time it was nice to come together to catch-up, laugh, and enjoy each other. And appreciate the fact that’s what we were doing. There will no doubt be more tribulations, but no matter. We’ll stand firm with one another, as we always have. These four pillars have held me up unfailingly.

Now, on to the dead hookers. In our finals level at Second City’s Conservatory we had create a musical number. It’s a requirement I knew about from the beginning and dreaded. But when the time came, we collaborated (our entire troupe) to come with a song called “Dead Hooker Alley”. I still know all the words by heart. And it was a crowd pleaser at every performance. Yes, it’s a little dark and wrong, but that describes all of us pretty accurately.

Since both of our out-of-towners had birthdays in October, I tasked resident baker extraordinaire, Tina, with creating a birthday cake to surprise them with. The result was nothing short of the deviant genius that has been our hallmark since forever…

Dead Hooker Alley: the cake.


For your viewing pleasure, Dead Hooker Alley: the song.

(No hookers were harmed in the making of the song. The cake…I’m not so sure.)

Also published on Medium.



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