Monday, August 31, 2015

Ovaltine Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake (Pete's "Blanche")

Sharing memories of my friend Pete and his special Ovaltine Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake


I had to take some time off from blogging to come to terms with the loss of my very dear friend, Pete. Although, over the last several years, we sometimes could go months without seeing each other, we'd stay in contact through text messages, a friendly online game of Scrabble or Words with Friends as well as phone calls. For the last 14 years, our friendship came in waves: hot and heavy for a four or five month stretch and then when life got busy or someone new came into his life, our friendship would get pushed to the bottom of the priority list. At first that would bother me but as one tends to do for people we love, I came to accept this as a part of the cycle of our friendship. A friendship that started 16 years ago this month when he was at my newspaper's offices for a job interview. I got onto the elevator, he and the graphics editor he was interviewing with were already in it, and our eyes locked. He grinned that grin, reached over to shake my hand and said, "Hi, I'm Pete. Can you tell him to hire me?" I smiled back, turned to the graphics editor and said, "He's perfect. Hire him."


A few weeks later, he started at the newspaper and within a few days, we made a work lunch date. I took him to my favorite lunch spot and found out he knew who I was by name before he started at the newspaper but not by face so when he put the two together, he told me that he knew he had to get to know me. My illustrations for features and news sections of the newspaper were in heavy demand during that time winnning me awards and a bit of recognition in in-house, national and international newspaper design competitions. Being a native San Diegan, his father had often clipped my illustrations and sent them to him to show him the work. He told me he loved them and wanted to talk about my approach, process and what I found inspiring. We spent that first of many shared meals talking about art, photography, family and religion and made plans to get together over the weekend to continue our conversation.

And that was it.

I was hooked from that very first lunch.


Have you every had a boyfriend that became the yard stick you measured all others that came after? That's what Pete became for me. He had a way of making me feel important and interesting whenever we were alone together. He was a gentleman to a fault, a kind and loving man who adored women and loved to give and receive big bear hugs. He was a thinker and loved to discuss big philosophical questions and “what if” scenarios. A runner and weight lifter, we bonded over many hours of lifting weights together, hiking, and exploring. He loved to dance and cook and I have memories upon memories of us in the kitchen together making breakfast, lunch and dinner and dancing around the kitchen and dining room to eighties music the entire time.

That first year of our relationship, we spent nearly all of our free time together. The relationship was super intense emotionally – too intense, in fact, which pretty much guaranteed that it wouldn't last. It ended painfully which took both of us quite some time to recover from. But within the year following our breakup, we found our way back to each other as the kind of friends that had known a deep intimacy and could still emotionally connect and understand each other in a way no one else could. That's not to say we always got along perfectly. Like most intense friendships, we'd get hurt or annoyed with each other some times but as he was fond of saying every time we found our way back to each other, our souls were meant to be in each other's lives.


That's what makes his loss so incredibly painful and shocking. There is a lot of regret and guilt mixed in with the grief. Now looking back at conversations over the last two years, I wish I had been more perceptive and seen the weird behavior for what it was: cries for help. Could I have been a better friend? There is no doubt. Would that have been enough? That is the question that will haunt me the rest of my life.


I'm trying to reach past the guilt and instead fill my mind with memories of him laughing, of our exploring new places together, playing disk golf and mini golf, creating art together, being silly and spontaneous, working out together, praying together, cooking together, and all the tender moments between us when everyone and everything else melted away.


Today is Pete’s birthday. He would have been 45 years old. This recipe I'm sharing today was one of his specialities. He made it for me the first time I went to his place for a movie night at the very beginning of our relationship. We watched "When Harry Met Sally", a favorite of both of ours, and ate wok-popped popcorn (another specialty he taught me) and slurped on these Ovaltine peanut butter milkshakes he called "Blanche" (I can hear his exaggerated pronunciation of buh-lawn-sssshhh in my head every time I type that). I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for quite some time now. A few years ago, when I was still living in my own place, he was over my house making it for us (I always made sure to have Ovaltine in the house just in case he came over and just in case he felt like whipping up some blanche) and I asked him if I could share this on the blog. He was delighted and gave an enthusiastic yes but I never got around to it.

Until now.


This one is for you, my dear, sweet friend. May God grant you the peace you so desperately searched for in this life.

Until we meet again… xo ALA


6 comments:

Liz Schmitt said...

You were the absolute best friend Pete could have asked for and I promise you, Ani, he would be the first person to underscore this. Forgive yourself and devote the rest of your life to being the happiest person you seek out - for you and for Pete.

Anita L Arambula said...

Thank you, Liz.... <3

Heidi Roth said...

Beautiful post, Ani. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table said...

So sorry to hear of your loss... I can't even imagine.

Elizabeth Shaw said...

Ani, I am truly sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute to your friend. All the best.

Annie @ The Jewskimo said...

I'm so, so sorry. This was a beautiful post -- I hope you found some healing and peace in writing it!