one degree of separation



Tessa got to sneak into Queen Elizabeth’s monarchial stall in the forbidden part of Westminster Abbey, and I was allowed an illegal picture, and why? Because of the amazing friends you make in bizarre places. The best thing about traveling, besides the sheer delight of being somewhere else on Earth, is seeing old friends again from new vantage points. So I’d like to do a little blog for the amazing folks we saw whilst perusing our ancestral homelands.


Me and Lasala, July 2002

First off, any Lodge dude reading this will know how cool a cat John Lasala is. John and I had several adventures around America, without even knowing the other was going to be there. We both had a hilarious obsession with the Pi Phi house at Carolina, and could always regale each other with near-misses and bashful conquests.

Little did I know he’d also gone to high school with my future wife, having helped her out at Choate more times than she could remember, feeding her family meals at the Lasala household and guiding her through some turbulent times. We got to have two dinners with John this trip, and I broke out a 12-year-old Ben Nevis sample from Inverness, ‘cuz he has a sense of adventure and is always worth the most interesting stuff.


We also reconnected with an old friend of mine, Heike Berg. The gorgeous Heike had a trajectory similar to mine: surprising non-fiction book success right out of college, followed by a few years in the wilderness, landing in NYC in 2000, and then on her feet a few years later. Like so many old friends, we reconnected through this blog (thank you, Google).

She now lives with her husband in St. Albans, just north of London, a stunningly beautiful town with an ancient church, unending fields of flowers with duck ponds, and Roman ruins. Our mom took us there all the time when we were kids, and now I can take mine!


20s Party at the Pink House circa 1996: N’Gai, Zia, Jiffer, Chip, Jay, me


Zia and me in June

London is made ineffably cooler by the presence of Zia Zareem Slade, who provides the place a sassy dose of chavvy sarcasm, just like she did for the Pink House in the mid-to-late ’90s. She and her fab husband Warren came over for pasties (which are meat pastries in Britain, not things you put on your nipples) and we spent the day talking shit.

I have had many housemates, indeed, many of you are reading this right now, but Zia may have been the most inspiring. She’s a prominent character in a TV show we’re pitching next year, and if we can translate 1/9th of her effervescence onto the screen, it’ll be a job well done.

She also designs websites for Virgin Atlantic now, and got us upgraded to Premium Economy for our 12-hour flight home. Obviously, Lucy blows her a huge kiss across the ocean.


me, Adam Regis and Sean crankin’ it Civil War style, Busch Gardens 1981


Adam with Molly, me with Lucy (and Janet with Annie) in Scarborough last week

The greatest reconnection of my later adulthood happened last week as well: we got to visit the home of Adam Regis, my best mate as a child in London. I had a few friends growing up by dint of next-door neighbors or family connections, but Adam was the first friend I ever made by myself. I’ve prattled on about Adam and his seatmate Heidi Downing, but the day he decided to be my friend at the age of ten, everything changed in my theretofore-hobbled heart.

We met his fantastic wife Janet, and their ravenously adorable kids Charlie, Annie and Molly – the latter two glommed directly onto Lucy, and she elevated them to the status of Rock Star Gods. Even now, a week later, Lucy will stop what she’s doing and sing “Molly… Annie… and Cholly!”

Being in Scarborough with Adam, Tessa taking me to her grade school in Aberlour, Scotland, and seeing our other friends was an incredible salve to an oddly difficult summer. If this crazy, nonsuch wedding hadn’t sent us packing 10,000 miles with our toddler, it’s shameful what we would have missed.


Annie, Lucy and Molly

0 thoughts on “one degree of separation

  1. GFWD

    Good on you for keeping up with old friends like you do. It’s one of the things I pride myself on, whether my family is traveling and we call on old pals or whether old friends are passing through town. Will see an old friend this evening for dinner.
    Great post.

  2. Sean M

    Great pics and commentary as usual. But I gotta ask — where’d you get that cool track jacket (in the pic with Lucy on your shoulders)? I want one…

  3. GFWD

    Emma, I originally wrote that and immediately thought of the quote and changed it slightly. Besides, my friend probably doesn’t like farva beans or chianti. [Insert evil slurping sound.]

  4. Beth

    As long as we’re talking wardrobe, I wanted to mention how much I LOVE the way you and Tessa dress Lucy. She is always decked to the nines–loved yesterday’s whole outfit and today’s marvelous green shoes!

  5. Ian

    Joanna, I think we all lost weight in the U.K. due to walking 400 kilometers a day.
    Sean M., Tessa got me that jacket – somewhere in LA, I’ll find out. Speaking of which, Beth, Tessa dresses Lucy too. She manages to find some pretty cute stuff.

  6. oliver

    Tessa seems so nonchalant in that photo. Well, I guess there’s no indignity when captured sitting in the stall of a monarch.


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