Ali Fazal ("Victoria and Abul") tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a man and his elderly neighbor. This is an encore presentation.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Modern love. The podcast is supported by produced by the Iowa W B. U R, Boston. From the New York Times and w you are Boston. This is modern love stories of love, loss, and redemption. I'm your host magnet Chakrabarti. The last week we released an episode featuring actress, Gugu and butter raw reading, Oliver Radcliffe's essay recognizing what they had twenty years too late That episode Oliver talked about being inspired by another modern love, podcast episode, the one where actor
Ali Fazal Red Victrola, Datos essay, when your greatest romance is a friendship We wanted to revisit that episode this week in here. It is. Is this your grandson people sometimes ask Austin when she's out with me. I love watching her vanity pick up the way she deals a small whitehead and brings out who southern action to correct them, no honey my friend and this point folks usually smiled tightly and turn away. Perhaps what it there's more than friendship going. In between the old lady and The younger man, seated at the bar, was strolling through the supermarket giggling like teenagers. Why were giggling? I couldn't tell you often
mirth seems fuelled by some deep delayed being together. Friendship like its flesh, your cousin love, can be widely chemical and, like love, can happen in an instant. When I met Austin, I was not for a friend. I come along to the small town to finish a book. So when a boy when blue eyed stranger knocked on my door. introducing herself as the lady from across the way and wondering if I might like to come over and see her garden, maybe have a gin and tonic. I politely declined watching a walk away, though, in a velvet slip on and wrinkled blouse, I felt a strange bang slope of sadness, suppose could best be described as loneliness
suddenly I was dashing into the dirt road to see that I was sorry that she had got me in the middle of work, but that yes, I would enjoy seeing her garden, not the tonic. Sure that too, I answered she and before I could suggest to visit the next week. She said so I'll see you in a few hours then, shall we say for thirty, I had to admire her sense of time. next week is for someone who can afford to put things off Austin. You know 80s Shirley felt no such luxury. I liked your face. Admittedly, the telling me she had spotted me at the mailbox I bought the June. I told her. I had also seen at the mailbox and I liked her face too. I wish I had better eyebrows. She said they used to be fabulous.
Her garden was astounding, something dreamed rather than blunted and had a gothic in which a lawless Greece prevailed at dusk, the derived nibbling, the crab apple blossoms, we had been talking for hours. we deeply and then we will in the kitchen, cooking dinner, retired psychologist Austin. Travel extensively spoke terrible spent. She was fringe and was a pin do now. She ran to her And the second of whom died in this house in a small bed in the living room. That's what I do Austin told me. This room gets the best light. We don't do the windows, but the light was already gone, that we could be quiet together so soon and without stream fell
fishes. So you run away from home. She said at one point from the beginning: there was something about our interaction that reminded me of friendships from childhood, in which question was off limits, Austin seemed afraid of nothing least of all death. I said I was still afraid of the dark living alone. She said can make you funny I laughed machine the subject telling I would like to see her paintings leader crossing the road back to my sublet. wondered what I was doing. I reminded myself of my plan hiding out staying in the dream of the book. I wasn't here to socialize
after years of work on a single project, I was in the final stretch. I could finish a job in a few months and back home, Besides, if I wanted a friend during my retreat, would find someone my age to throw beers with gin and tonics Oh leading a gun that wasn't in the plan, but there was the next weekend having dinner with her, and then it was every weekend. Sometimes we went out to a restaurant Well, hiked, in the mountains, Austin's all the friends seemed confused. Is he helping you with the computer when asked when I first started talking about Austin to my own.
I would have done friends- they assumed I'd, found a new boyfriend Austin's, a woman. I would see besides she's in the eighties. He says to pal Even as they replied that cool, I could almost hear them, thinking must be slim pickings out there. What was confusing- I guess, was not the two people different ages had become friends, but that we had become best friends. Others saw devotion is either strange or wind like one. Unlikely animal friendships, a monkey and opinion Bob's. If we made no sense from the outside, it didn't matter mostly looking at each other one night,
in short it about her life was a middle aged wife and academia. I completely missed out on the willingness of the sixties. She said I told her. I had missed out too you weren't born, yet she said, or hardly often we cooked together, as we had that first night, after which she would show me whatever painting she was working on. I request. I also started reading to her from my book in progress. We gave each other feedback our work improved when my six month lease was up. I renewed it. The novel wasn't finished plus I couldn't imagine a better neighbor.
Before I knew it three years had passed, I was writing seven days a week and spending most evenings with Austin. She had spells of vertigo now and when we walked together, she held my arm. Often she couldn't find the right word for something when she wanted to keep away visitors, so she could, being she hung a sign on a studio door, do not destroy soon the headache scheme and more jumbled language. I need to screw my goals, she said, meaning she needed to screen them. We laughed then sobered tests will do. Now, she's, eight months into what the doctor sees a quick ravaging illness deep in brain, they say there is no stopping it, a you're more if she's lucky
even as I refuse to believe this, I it how, by keeping my promise to her a few months before diagnosis Austin had attended a wedding. She showed me a copy of the vows which had distributed at the ceremony detailed list. I read it carefully. At Austin's request, we were sitting in a car waiting for our favorite tie. Restroom to open. I never had anything like that with the men in my life, she said pointing to the vows we
loved each other, but we didn't have that she was crying now something she rarely did. I took her hand and said: well you have it with me everything, but the six at which point the monkey is the vision that I had an old realisation. Some of the greatest romances of my life have been friendships, and these friendships have been in many ways more mysterious than erotic, love, more subtle, less selfish, more are doomed to gain this.
Of course, Austin was going to die long before I did that's not what this is about. This I have come to understand, is a love story. Austin continued to pin for several months more fractured psychedelic self portrayed in scorching, colors her best work. Lately, though, she is tired and hardly leaves the couch, I sit with her at the opposite. End are legs intertwined, read to me. She said when I tell the book is finished. She tells me to read or something new, but whenever I do, she promptly falls asleep. I don't leave.
I stared out the window. Austin was right. This room does get the best light. recently or has thinned but she has a shock of white upfront that a friend's daughter has died with a streak of fuchsia. She looks like some punk girl I might have dated in high school. She had a bit more energy. The last time I came to visit and said: oh Victor, I had the most wonderful dessert yesterday beaches and Connecticut have you ever had it? No, I said Smiley I love the idea of it to things that
it seemed to go together, monkeys and pigeons beaches in Connecticut unlikely, yes, but Louis beyond Measure Ali fossil Reading, Victor Widows essay when your greatest romance is a friendship we'll catch up with Victor after them. if you're, hiring
you know can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. You just hope the rate Canada comes along, but not when you use the procurator zipper. Critters technology finds qualified candidates, for you then actively invites them to apply. In fact, four out of five employers who posted zipper cruder, get a qualified candidates within the first day. Try it free today at zero, cruder, dot com. Slash and why T that Sippar, cruder, dot com, slash and wide t zip recruiter the smartest way to hire. I love him. boyfriend and I often play spelling bee together by together I mean sitting next to each other playing individually and not cheating. Sometimes when I open up spelling bee- and I see that you have completed a few words on your own, I feel a little betrayed It may have happened again. I have one friend, who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words. Then I was get nervous. I sent it to my parents or something like that
me and my dad. We like a sponge together, and I wish to point out I it said a c k, p o t yeah now run nice I'm same as earth's sky. The digital puzzles editor for the New York Times. You can try, spelling bee and all our games at N Y Times dot com, slash games, we're back. It's modern love, the podcast and Meghna Chakrabarti Austin passed away in December before this modern love essay was published, but she had the chance to read it before she died and in her last days, Victor said that she took the opportunity to share her feelings about him. Her telling a friend when she could still talk that one of the things It was really worried about with me because she knew how attached I watched her aunt and how import She was in my life and at the end-
see it was very soon before she died. She just took two fingers and she pointed them at she did it several times like three or four times and I knew she was just saying- you're gonna be fine. I love you. I want you to be okay, so I felt like no at the end, we didn't talk much, but I think we both understood everything Victor gravitates toward solitude, as a writer, he spends a lot of time alone but asked and pulled him out of that solitary world anytime, Something good happened. You know I had a story published or an article published, or some critics said something nice about my work. It was always an excuse to go out to a bar and have a drink and celebrate, and I realized that One of the things often said to me said living alone it can. It can make you strange- and I realize it's true, mortise trying to knock so, as you told me, to get out more victor,
says that his relationship with Austin made him aware of how much friendships can be limited by age or socioeconomic status, and he thinks about. That when he remembers their first meeting He was attracted to her and liked her energy and wanted to have a drink with her, but you know I was thinking I I probably had some thought in the back of my head like, while I'm certainly we're not going to become good friends because she's so much older than I am, and so I guess I faced my own prejudice that there was some sort of limitation there. So. I hope that I am less rigid in thinking that my friends will come from certain segment of the population, the last other important people in his life, his mother and his grandparents, but Victor says Losing Austin felt different, I saw every day, up until the point she died, and so my body misses her still it does. You know I go to a certain coffee shop that I spend time with her and I still expect to see her appear the door and to join me. But because I
and so much time with her up until the moment she died. I have no regrets and no, I Didn'T- I didn't take it for granted for one second, Victor Gorilla, the writer living in Ashland Oregon is most recent book is called EDGAR and Lucy. after the break Daniel Jones, on what he took from Victor's essay. The I love spelling bee my boyfriend and I often play spelling bee together by together I mean sitting next.
Each other playing individually and not cheating. Sometimes when I open up spelling bee- and I see that you have completed a few words on your own, I feel a little betrayed We may have happened again. You I have one friend, who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words. Then I always get nervous. I sent it to my parents or something like that. me and my dad. We liked the first together and I wish her out. I it a c k, p o t. I panicked yeah, nice. I'm same is risky. The digital puzzles editor for the New York Times. You can try spelling bee and all our games at an why times, dot com, flash games.
Dan Jones, editor of modern love for the New York Times says that when he first read victors essay, he was struck by the fact that, when Austin and Victor met Victor had all of his defences up I know this to be true, that the people who put up the biggest walls at the beginning are the ones they do it because they know they're susceptible, and I thought about that. With Victor, in this case like he just doesn't, he wants to work. Do is work does want to get involved, but he has a big heart and sinks deep into this platonic. Relationship or I'd even call it a romance where they become each other's best. Friends. thanks again to Ali Fazal. He told us why chose to read essay, This one line really sticks with me means is. There were no quest
it is therefore of limits, and instead space of totally nudity that I feel once you cross that the word intimacy just suddenly widens up, and it's huge because it's not about friendship, it's not about love, it's something very spiritual. You could be kissing or you could be not kissing, you could be sleeping, can be not sleeping. You could be just reading, it could just be talking and I think that's his beautiful Ali Fazal. He stars in the upcoming movie death on the Nile Modern love is the production of the New York Times and W B you are Boston, NPR station, its produce directed and edited by Caitlin, O Keefe original scoring and sound design by Matt. Reed iris Adler's our executive producer, Daniel Jones
The editor of modern love for the New York Times and adviser to the show the idea The modern love podcast was conceived by LISA Tobin, special thanks to Julia Simon. Australian and melee at the New York Times additional music courtesy of a p dot m. If you like,. Leave us a rating or a review on Apple podcast. It helps new listeners, find us. See you next week. The.
Transcript generated on 2022-04-15.