September 12th, 2012 by Julie Silver
I met David Garber in 1998 while moving into a one bedroom apartment on the corner of 2nd and Idaho in Santa Monica. I was alone, and I made the mistake of loading my arms with way too many cassette racks, hauling them from my car to the elevator, straining my back and nearly dropping them all onto the cement floor of the parking garage. Like an angel, Dave Garber showed up, introduced himself and took the entire weight of those cassette racks off my hands.
I was dressed in cargo shorts, hiking boots, a fanny pack, possibly a man’s head on a stake at my side, but that didn’t stop Dave “I Can Turn This Lesbian Away From the Dark Side” Garber from trying to hit on me. It was only after we boarded the elevator together and he began looking through the artists and titles on the cassette tapes in his arms that he became visibly crestfallen. There was every album the Indigo Girls, Laura Nyro, Holly Near, Chris Williamson and Joan Baez ever recorded. I watched his eyes fill with tears. “It’s just elevator dust, I’m fine, really…” he said as we ascended together to the 3rd floor. There goes another casualty in my very real war on straight men, I thought. But he seemed like a nice guy.
Turns out he was a very nice guy. The nicest, in fact. I was reeling from a break-up, cursing the fact that I had to move to a new place and start over again, but that day, after meeting Garber for the first time I knew I was going to be OK. This stranger could’ve just brought the tapes upstairs and left me to finish moving and unpacking by myself. I mean, we didn’t know each other. It was a beautiful beach day. I tell you, he helped me move my stuff upstairs until my car was empty. Who “pitches in” like this, I asked myself. The answer: Dave Garber.
It turned out my keys fit the lock to the apartment right across the hall from his. Within days (OK, minutes) we were a sitcom in search of a network. I became his Mary Richards and he became my Rhoda Morgenstern. It was as if we needed to find each other. I had healing to do, and so did he. We lived in that corner together, our doors wide open, our circles of friends intertwining, our lives becoming inextricably linked, for years. We shared meals together, went to afternoon movies, watched Six Feet Under and The Sopranos together, borrowed books and music from each other, and talked and laughed through everything together. I critiqued every woman that crossed his threshold and took no prisoners. You know, I sometimes refer to Garber as my “husband” and we laugh about it, not because I already have a wife, but because he really is the guy you want in your life, through sickness and health, for richer or poorer, forever. I guess in a way he’s the brother I never had.
I could go on and on about Garber. How well-read, even tempered and insightful he is. How kind he is to my family. How optimistic and interested he is. How he can talk to just about anyone about anything. He was the first one at the hospital for the birth of our daughters. He installed Sarah’s first car seat. When he visits our house, he never tries to wake me up when I fall asleep in my TV chair after dinner. Garber flew to Boston to be my “wing-man” when I sang the National Anthem at Fenway Park last summer. Back in the day and on more than a few occasions he woke up early, sometimes after working until 3AM to answer the door (wearing only a bathrobe or, if I was lucky, only the sports pages) just to let me hang out on his couch, watch TV and do the crossword puzzle. And when the time came, back in 2001, he lovingly steered me in the direction of Mary Connelly who is now my wife. (She gained a husband in all of this, too, ya know.)
A few months ago, Garber left his full time job to volunteer for the Obama campaign in Nevada. Is there a worse place to be walking the streets, canvassing, ringing doorbells, standing outside grocery stores, registering voters than in the state of Nevada between June and November? Could the volunteer job be any more thankless? Just imagine the difficulty of all of it? Uprooting, volunteering, not knowing whether it will all pay off. Would YOU do it?
I didn’t think so.
But were we surprised when Garber told us he was packing up, paying his own way and heading to Nevada to help turn the state blue for Obama? Not in the least.
David and I talk every couple of days. He has no idea of what is going on in the news, the polls, and he rarely sees the divisive, unimportant political posts that all of us are guilty of sharing from time to time. He likely didn’t even watch the convention. He works 14 hours a day with a water bottle in one hand and a pen and clipboard in the other, registering voters, He falls asleep every night in a tiny rented room with a shower curtain for a wall that he has to pay for himself. I find myself tearing up when I think of the hard work he is doing on our behalf.
This morning, Mary and I took a Shabbat family walk through this neighborhood we love so much. Two dogs, two daughters, two moms, meeting friends on the way, laughing it up, enjoying the ocean breeze and sunshine. I thank God for the freedom Mary and I have, for the peace we find here, for the future we want to provide for our girls, for everything we have and all of the progress that has been made in our lifetime. When we got home, the phone rang. It was Garber calling from Nevada. He was on his way to register voters at a Las Vegas Gay Pride Parade.
“I’m on a bus, heading to the Pride Festival!” he said. I actually think I heard the sound of glitter falling around him. “Jesus, Garber would you just come home? Enough already. You’re not even gay!” I selfishly replied. I do miss him terribly. I miss our lunches at Real Food Daily and our 6 mile walks and how he fits so nicely into our family. But he’s doing good work, and like the guy I met almost fifteen years ago, he won’t stop until the task is completed. Who pitches in like this, I asked myself as I hung up the phone. The answer will always be the same: Dave Garber.