Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Jackson Era

Brett & Emily.

Dan and I met Brett Jackson at my friends Lindsey and Clay’s party in 2005. We knew no one else there so we sat at this random table with this random group of boys, including Brett. Brett was incredibly funny, and after the party, Dan wouldn't shut up about the guy. A few weeks later, we had dinner with Lindsey, Clay, Brett and his wife Emily, and that's when the serious man-crush developed to the next level and Dan and Brett swapped numbers.

Dan and Brett started hanging out, and Dan would come home with stories about Brett’s funny jokes and the crazy activities they got themselves into, such “art school” nights where a group of friends sat around and drew pictures. The Jacksons lived in the Bronx, and I remember going up there to see Dan's newfound friends and having a home-cooked Mexican dinner at their place. They were talking about some sci-fi stuff and living on a commune. While they seemed extremely nice and friendly, I thought to myself, I have nothing in common with these people. Dan was smitten.

The Jacksons moved to the Upper West Side, where we were living, and we became active members of their social circle—and what a circle it was. I was amazed and impressed by the abundance of friends this couple had. Every time we visited their apartment or joined them on a movie outing, there was a new cast of characters. At this point, my life revolved around my work and little else. These get-togethers with these opinionated, eccentric, funny and life-loving personalities intimidated the heck out of me. In a room full of people, I felt very lonely. I sat in the corner and observed and thought, this is not me.

And then a light bulb: At one of the parties, I spent the evening speaking to Adam and Hila—two people who I would have never encountered in my work life—and while there were other factors involved, this
conversation changed the course of my life. I decided to quit my job and travel. My work would no longer be the center of my life. Influenced by the Jacksons, I decided to infuse friendships and fun in my life instead. After months of changing my focus and shifting my priorities and expanding myself, it felt like my world opened up, and suddenly friendship and fun began flooding into my life, and Brett and Emily came in with the flow.

Slowly and surely, as I developed more strength and confidence to shed my depression and become the person I want to be (and believe me, I'm still in the process), my friendship with Brett and Emily deepened. Dan and I started seeing them on a weekly basis, and I looked forward to our get-togethers, to be with people who took life by the reigns and just went with it. Brett, with his sharp wit of words and love of play, could entertain me for hours. Emily, with her curiosity about everything from cooking to sewing to ballet to pottery, always amazes me with her energy and eagerness to learn new things. Brett writes comic books among other creative pursuits and has been very influential and inspiring to me to pursue my own writing—giving me pointers, lending me books and encouraging me to move forward without fear.

While I still think sometimes that we have little in common (still not a fan of sci fi, comic books or communes), my connection with these people runs deeper than that. These people showed me how to live in a way where the important things—friends, family, art and passions—come first. I know it sounds clichéd, but many people say that they do these things and don’t. Brett and Emily actually do these things and thrive.

When Brett and Emily announced they were moving to Geneva because Emily got a job there, Dan and I were thrilled for them, disappointed for us. The couple has talked about moving outside of New York since we’ve met them and Dan always joked that we would follow them wherever they went. Now it is really happening, and we’re staying put.

This past weekend, we had Jackstock—a three-day party to give them a proper send off before they head to Switzerland. The farewell started with a big bash that had more new people than I could keep track of (Brett and Emily may be leaving, but that doesn’t stop new friendships from forming) and then on Saturday and Sunday, a core group of friends engaged in fun and mischief that represented the couple’s love of socializing, creativity and whimsy. I was part of it, and there was never a moment where I doubted that I belonged there.

The New York City Jackson Era may be at its end, but our friendship with Brett and Emily will surely endure. There will be more good times to come (Europe 2009, baby!), so this isn’t a good-bye, but really just a moment for me to say thanks to Brett and Emily for being true and for being you. I think you rock.


Brash Lion said...

I am trying not to cry, reading this at work. That was such a beautiful tribute, Yvonne!! I'm not even really a Jackson! I, for one (being that I'm the 2nd Mrs. Jackson), am so happy that you are a part of the core circle. You DO belong with us. But I know how you feel about that - truly I do. Thanks so much for writing this about a couple of the most unique people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Brash Lion said...

PS - Brett tooooootally had/has such a man-crush on Dan too. Maybe even a regular crush.

Squeen said...

Courtney, I couldn't agree more with post #1.

Brett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brett said...


Check out the heteronormative feminist, everyone - I won't apologize for my love, Courtney. Some people don't even get one Dan in a lifetime.

Vonne, I'm trying not to cry at this tribute. To be so fondly regarded, so beautifully, by someone so dear is humbling.
We've come so far together and Jackstock felt every bit our high-fiving victory lap. Thank you for being in our lives.