two of our friends have asked me to write them a reference letter, as they are in the final stages of buying an apartment in a co-op. as such, one of the last steps in this process is that they are required to present no less than twelve letters of recommendation to the members of the co-op board. ah, the good life in new york.
i was more than happy to oblige my friends, allowing my zeal for honesty and transparency to lead the way forward.
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dear members of the board,
i am writing to express my unconditional support for roxanne denali-sampson and gabriel blomqvist regarding their prospective purchase of an apartment in your building.
for three years now, it has been a pleasure to call roxanne and gabriel my dear friends, during which time my wife and i have travelled with them on numerous occasions.
blessed with a remarkable curiosity and creative spirit, i am reminded on an almost daily basis of how lucky i am to have them not only as friends, but also as mentors and role models.
both roxanne and gabriel have impeccable taste, as evidenced by their outstanding collection of found objects that occupy virtually every inch of surface space in their home. no matter which way one looks, there’s always a visual indulgence that’s waiting to be discovered. there’s a stack of match books by the front door that reaches from the floor to the ceiling; while there’s also an immense sculpture made of plastic cafeteria forks. one of the lampshades has been fashioned out of previously-owned cling film food wrap. i love their collection of tall boy beer cans almost as much as i adore their collection of blue new york times newspaper bags.
yet it is gabriel who is truly the more entrepreneurial of the two. never one to turn down an opportunity to revive or repurpose those seemingly hopeless pieces of furniture that gabriel routinely picks up from the streets of the east village, he hauls them into their home, so that they can be lovingly restored. it is true that some of these revived objects are sold, often for a token amount, but gabriel so frequently falls in love with the results of his work that he and roxanne more often elect to keep their restoration projects, adding even more charm and distinction to their already unique home.
one example that springs to mind is the once-tattered couch that was rescued in freemans alley from a pack of stray dogs that were using it as their bed. i don’t know how long that couch was in that dank and forlorn alley, but let’s just say that it harboured a certain musky aroma that is truly difficult to describe, which suggests that the couch had been there for eons. now, months later, it looks almost as good as new, and it hardly ever smells of dog urine.
i should point out that this very couch has become our seat of honor whenever we visit them. we’ve become quite attached to it.
i’ve seen gabriel enthusiastically discover abandoned mattresses, and, bedbugs be damned, i’ve found several occasions to lend him a hand to bring them back to their apartment. at one point, they had so many mattresses in need of their tender loving care that they were compelled to temporarily stack them in the hallway outside their door – but gabriel worked night and day to painstakingly bring them back to life – and some six weeks later, he was finally done. he gave several of the mattresses away to his friends.
while gabriel’s generosity never fails to impress, it is roxanne’s creative spirit that sets her apart.
an avid fan of rhythmic music, we are frequently invited to participate in their elaborately choreographed drum circles that are hosted twice-weekly by roxanne. sometimes, we’ll play until four in the morning! i feel like i learn so much during these drumming sessions, as roxanne encourages all of her friends to really express themselves. sometimes, she leads by example through her use of unconventional objects to strike the drum. i recall an episode where, in a fit of creative genius, she suddenly grabbed the flower vase from the top of the bookshelf and smashed it over the conga, adding quite a yell for extra emphasis. i’ve ever heard such a tremendous sound. it was truly inspiring.
the source of her creativity is a subject that i’ve often speculated over, and i have concluded that it must have something to do with her being québécoise.
her creative energy extends to the kitchen. she really enjoys making home-made kombucha for themselves and all of their house guests, and so, whenever one enters the kitchen, the first thing one takes notice of are all of the oversized vats which contain what looks like liquid compost in various stages of fermentation. the yeasts and assorted bacteria that are cultivated in the vats generate quite a staunch aroma, but it really does add to the experience, and i wouldn’t want it any other way.
since roxanne and gabriel are so fond of collecting things, including friends (some of whom are such frequent guests that they should practically be paying rent, but roxie and gabes would never dream of asking them to do that), it should come as no surprise than they enjoy sharing their home with a wide variety of rescue animals. normally, they prefer to limit their merry coterie of critters to four or five dogs and no more than six or seven cats. they’ve also hosted a raccoon, a semi-paralyzed skunk, and three black squirrels (which gabriel encountered in nearby tompkins square park). as for the cats and dogs, sometimes, there are more, but this has a way of self-correcting as some of the animals simply wander off, never to be seen again. their loss! the animals, i mean, because who would want to leave a home that is so fantastic as theirs?
as there is such an abundance of adorable furry little friends which bring so much joy to their home, it is not unusual for some of them to partake in the drum circle. not only do some of the dogs enjoy a robust wail along with the humans who are doing their own drumming and shouting, but there was once a time when roxanne and gabriel babysat a proboscis monkey who brought the evening session to a stirring climax through his persistent shrieking and plant thrashing. yes, the proboscis monkey grabbed their ficus tree and used it as an improvised drumstick, employing the walls of the apartment as the drum’s surface!! i was amazed that the monkey was given the creative freedom to express himself like that, but that just shows you how remarkable roxanne and gabriel really are.
i can only offer them the very highest recommendation possible, and hope that the members of the co-op board will find them as delightful and resourceful as we do. perhaps you’ll have an opportunity to sample their kombucha. it’s simply delicious!