I’ve debated with myself about what the purpose of these interviews is. I’ve been constantly questioning why I do them and, more importantly, what I want my audience to get out of them. I have yet to come up with a coherent answer to the second question but talking to my dear friend and big sister Clare O’Brien Rocha has reminded me of the first. Clare and I share a special history. Our parents met shortly after my parents were married and while her parents were dating in a little post-hippie Baha’i community in 1970’s Colorado. We grew up together, sharing family vacations and alternating Thanksgivings at each other’s houses for over 15 years.
As a kid, her parents were my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Steve, the kooky hippy couple whose life seemed like how married life was supposed to be. Her mother Nancy was both a second mother and, if I’m honest, the archetype for what I thought the perfect wife was supposed to be: beautiful, warm, funny, and passionate. Her father goes harder in everything that he does than any man I’ve ever met. I love both her parents like they are my own. In fact, my dream marriage would be facilitated by her father in swim trunks, Hawaiian shirt and suit jacket.
When her mother passed a few years ago I was devastated. It was a like a part of my world no longer made sense. It seemed like with no Nancy to look forward to every Thanksgiving, with her warm smile and long dark hair, a little bit of the world’s magic left too. I was unaware of Nancy’s mental illness until she passed and I never really talked to Clare about it until this past April when I stayed with her and her own family out on Long Island.
Seeing Clare again after so many years was an amazing and moving experience. Clare has a unique gorgeousness about her. Seeing her not only reminds me of the only teenager who would hang out with “the babies” on family vacations but I also see the same smile and raucous humor of her father and the same warmth, empathy and same clear eyes and long dark hair of her mother. She embodies a spirit of my childhood, the hippie, sing along, wholesomeness mixed with a down to earth realness that I don’t find with many other people. Likewise, one of the first things she said to me was, “I saw you and it like looking at a young Tony!” I realized, sitting on my her couch, taking up the most space possible, with my hands rested on my belly and half my shirt covering my bearded mouth, that I was just that; a young version of my father. She says it with such love and nostalgia that I became much prouder of the idiosyncrasies of my father that I’ve internalized.
So for me, it was clear that I just had to interview Clare. I had to talk to her about our completely interlinked childhood. We talked for hours about how different our views of our respective families and what it was like to be raised Baha’i in Colorado. We talked about how our parents’ friendship became our model for what adult friendships were supposed to be. We talked about how we assumed that your close friends become your family and that while blood will always be thicker than water, sometimes the water can run twice as deep.
So what will you, the listener, get from Clare’s interview? Other than the awesome music that weaves throughout the interview, other than her truly beautiful [if slightly sick] voice, Clare moves the world with more style, swag and intentionality than you’d ever imagine. Clare is a stay at home mother of two, living in the Gatbsy-esque tip of Long Island known as the Hamptons and drives an Audi yet every image of her that just popped into your head from that description is either false or woefully incomplete. Whenever Beyonce comes on [which is quite often]her oldest son, who is quite possible the cutest child in the history of children, looks up and says “that’s my mom’s best friend ‘yonce.” She is a feminist, an artist, a fashionista, a mother, a wife, a friend, a daughter, an amazing cook, a hilarious story teller, role model, a big sister, a trend setter and the first real interview for the Stories We Tell Ourselves In Order To Live!
Through her own rugged determination and restless art filled spirit, Clare has created a narrative of life that is truly wonderful. Hers is, among other things, a narrative of the power of every day choices, of constant growth and endearing love. She cannot be defined or understood in 40 minutes of monologue but I believe that we all have something to learn from her internal beauty. Listen! Share! And increase your self-awareness through dialogue.