Saturday, March 3, 2012

My friend Barbara Rosen

It is so strange and sad to write about my friend Barbara Rosen in the 'past'. Her effervescence and enthusiasm, which sometimes bordered in a very funny excess- will always be a very important and strong part of my memories of her --and our almost 40 year-old frienship.

When I first moved to New York, her curiosity and love for things and places that were exquisite and different helped me see NYC through a new prism. She made me understand and love a facet of New York that I did not know...And I will always thank her so very much for opening all those magic doors!

Barbara is responsible that I collected for many years antique perfume bottles -as
she did- and for years we went together to innumerable Flea Markets and Antique shows in nearby towns in Upstate New York, Connecticut, Massachussetts,etc. So many lovely towns that we drove to! First alone and later on with our daughters, Mari-Claudia and her beloved (and much wanted) Shane. As I am with my daughter, they were inseparable and very close.

She always told me MC and I were their role models --and she followed with Shane the same path: trips to Europe, Art History, Law School and a mutual love for people and places until the very end.

Barbara showed us Soprano-territory in her town of Kearny...We also travelled to
Paris many times, covered the Fashion Collections since 1986 and had a great time! We went to La Coupole, mingled with all the fashionistas and she photographed my interviews with all the famous designers. It was a great time in the lives of all!...Because of her, I now love the Marais in Paris-- and love eating fallafel in its many corner joints, especially the one where she bought beautiful Moroccan tea glasses...In New York, 2 years ago, I went with her to the tomb of a famous Rabbi in Brooklyn --and left small papers with our prayers and wishes in his mausoleum...She bought her wigs in Borough Park and we had bagels and coffee in its famous jewish bakeries...Barbara was also responsible that I got to know the lovely Berkshire Moiuntains, its Twin Lakes area, the amazing Red Lion Inn -- as well as any old historical mansions along the Hudson River and towns in New England. She made me love the exquisite details of fine antique china, the small cochet- adorned linen napkins we found in old bins of antique shops along Route 7, the change of the leaves ... and all this was accompanied by a constant chatter, mixed with some saucy and bitchy gossip....She wanted to know everything about everybody and everyplace!...Her long emails were 'stream of consciousness' essays and they always made me laugh as I forwarded them to my daughter...For many years we celebrated holidays in our respective homes, both Catholic Christmas as well as Passover and others...I took her to buy special ingredients for her dinners iin the Lower East side --and she made an amazing brisket...It was very nice actually --and I learned about 'seders' and Shane grew up loving my Xmas tree and giving out the presents to all of us.

I loved her and I know she loved me too, but twice there were unpleasant ''falling outs" (2 during our long friendship) and now I feel bad about them... but neither Barbara nor I were perfect. Last time we spoke I (as I always did) I told her she was going to beat her super/human battle with ovarian cancer --and I really believed she would!....It had started so many years ago!...Around 12 years or so....and she always got better and kept going non/stop with admirable strength and optimism. Only once she said: "Maria, I am scared" and I told her her cancer was almost like a chronic disease and she would be fine... Last year I was at Mount Sinai with Shane and her great friend Marilyn when the surgeon said there was nothing more he could do...But still, she lived on more than a year at full force, even attending with pride Shane's Law School graduation!

Now I am at a loss for words! I am so sad about her death. It sees impossible and I will miss her enthusiasm and her love for life --and her inmense love and pride for her daughter....I have met very few people as complex and funny and crazed and supportive as Barbara Rosen --and every time I toast anything -as now I toast to celebrate her life and the wonderful memories engraved in my heart- I will repeat her famous words ---"For us and those like us".

Bravo Barbara! And thank you for teaching me so many great things. I will always love you.

The pictures: The picture Barbara took of me in Paris which I love -And a picture I took of her last year in which she was "standing like the models do, with one foot in front of the other" --as she explained at that moment!