This may sound weird, but for awhile, I really thought Tim was from a foreign country. We met one night on the sidewalk outside of the Reynolds Club. I don’t remember who else was there that night. But I was keenly aware of Tim because it was like the moon decided to take the night off, descend on Chicago, and take on the human form of a U of C student. Only, he didn’t look like a typical U of C student--he was more like what a U of C student fantasizes about looking like: an elf from Lord of the Rings. He was not only very handsome, but he had an ethereal quality to him. His eyes, his smile, his laugh--everything about him was luminous. It felt good to be near him.
That night, in the midst of this daydreamy haze, I somehow got the notion that Tim had an accent. I don’t know if it was his cadence or the words he used or what--but my mind made another irrational leap and I started imagining that he was a European man of mystery. He kind of reminded me of this tall, blonde, impeccable Finnish exchange student I had known in seventh grade. When Tim said he liked Norwegian black metal, it was like an A-ha! moment where the pieces fall into place.
I don’t remember how long I believed in this delusion of mine. Days, possibly a few weeks. I do remember having dinner with him months later and talking about our respective childhoods. When he told me about growing up in Connecticut, I told him about my initial confusion over his origins. He laughed his great Tim laugh and was pretty amused by it all.
While my initial impression was that he was worldly-wise, I gradually got to know that he was in fact down to earth. He was so unabashedly inquisitive about the world around him--we had many conversations about music, friends, art, books, ethics (he loved that “Ethicist“ column in the NY Times). We laughed and had fun. Once, we sneaked him into the Empty Bottle using Sam Leimer’s ID--they so did not resemble each other, but the doorperson paid no mind. Perfect, because where there was music, there was Tim.
I have many good memories of Tim, but one stands out because it shows how thoughtful and kind he was towards me. It was winter and I had come down with the flu. I felt so crummy that I couldn’t even get out of bed. I was pretty useless--who wants to hang out with a sick person? You can’t talk without coughing, can hardly laugh or move because your whole body hurts, and you look your worst. Well, who should come over but Tim. And he was just there, to be close by and hold my hand. And despite the flu and winter and everything that was wrong with anything--despite all that, I felt so happy that day. So when I think of Tim now, I like to remember quiet times like these, where it was just us hanging out and enjoying the moment for what it was.