I loved Rebecca Collerton. She was gruff but she had to be, what with that huge heart she was toting around and our retrogressive world and her utter inability to suffer fools. She always snuck a cookie into my bag—a nudge, which she and Caroline Fidanza let me name—and she helped me launch my Ruby Intuition practice. It wasn’t just that she and Saltie co-owners Elizabeth Schula and Caroline had me read for everybody who was anybody on their little brown bench on New Years Day, 2010. It was that she hand-lettered my signs and made a special potion to take the edge off the readings by relabeling a Powers Whiskey bottle “Psychic Powers Whiskey” and then kept quietly quietly refilling my glass when I wasn’t looking. I knew if I had Bex’s seal of approval then I couldn’t totally be full of shit and I went from there, her good wind all I needed on my back. And she let me read for her and took what I saw to heart enough to let it be good wind on her back.
I’ll never forget it: I saw a stray cat and a wife, in that order, and was happier to see her good fortune than anything else I’ve seen in my practice before or since. But what was even happier is that she let all that love in when it showed up. It was beautiful. So was she: handsome and curmudgeonly and eminently charismatic. Best of all, she possessed that rare ability to shut the fuck up and watch the city slide on by. I’m crying as I write this and I’ll cry a lot more when all is said and done but I’m still glad to keep espying her in every vestibule I pass, slouching, smoking, scuffing those perennial DMs. Rebecca Collerton was a stand-up guy in a neighborhood that desperately needed one, a lovebug who did a terrible job of hiding it, a profoundly intuitive chef, a bookworm, a worrywart, a grouser extraordinaire (it’s an art, you know), and a pair of eyes I always looked forward to gazing within. I am so glad our sailor found big happiness before she left our shores, but will forever look longingly for her on the horizon. P.S. That’s me in the background of the above Eater NY pic, taken when Mr. Curry, her Indian-English eatery, closed. It was the last time I ever saw my friend.