After his transfer to Garberville, Tom settled in well, and did the best he could in a community known more for being a place where marijuana growers lived alongside rednecks than for anything else.
Ruben and started going up there, spending the weekend every so often, to help Tom keep in touch with friends from Sonoma County. Our relationship went from politeness to fast friends in one night. We discovered we had a ton in common, a love of good conversation, and a shared snarky sense of humor. The first night of the first trip north he and I stayed up talking until 1am, long after my husband had gone to bed.
Our relationship continued to grow, and by the time Ruben and I divorced, Tom and I were close to being best friends. (Not to worry, our relationship had nothing to do with my divorce. It was never like that.) His friendship helped me through the emotional months after my marriage ended. Happiness was going swimming down at the Eel River, picking blackberries and making jam, chatting until late at night, learning Irish and how to make tea the right way.
I continued my weekend trips up north, and Tom often stopped by the house when in town. I worried about his reputation, that our relationship might be compromising to him, but he assured me there was no problem.
The following summer I rewarded myself with my first trip to Europe. I spent a few nights in London, staying with Tom’s brother George, before taking off for Spain for two weeks. After another 2 days in London, I met up with Tom in Dublin. We stayed there a few nights with one of his sisters, before going to Glendalough (Glendalock) in Co. Wicklow with two sisters for the night, Co. Laois for 2 nights with his family, Co. Cork (Skibereen) for 1 night, Tralee Co. Kerry for 3 nights, Galway City for 1 night and then back to Dublin. We got to stay with his family for all nights except Skibereen and Galway. It was the trip of a lifetime, made so much better because I got to spend it with such a good friend.