When I moved to New York in the winter of 1989 I knew absolutely no one - but I had the phone number of a girl that was willing to let me sleep in the extra bedroom of her apartment on 79th and Amsterdam. After walking up five flights of stairs and meeting Melora - we both knew - almost instantly - that we would be great roommates.
I worked for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Melora worked for Patricia Neal. Every night we would come home and share our stories - mine usually involved tales of getting lost in the museum - trying to find the film department and Melora's usually involved some funny incident Patricia had gotten them into. Eventually Patricia was taking us both out to meals we couldn't afford - but she thought it was important that we got out and dined at restaurants with white tablecloths.
I remember Patricia had a guest book on her entrance hall table and I would always flip through it to see who had stopped by since I had last visited. She kept her academy award in the library and I would run in and hold it for a minute or two - always surprised how heavy it really was. One night she pulled out her jewelry box and told us to each pick out a jewel - I was so overwhelmed with the choices that she finally just picked up a jade flower ring and said - here this is for you - and Melora was given something opal. We spent weekends at her home in Martha's Vineyard - which was the home where Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick. One weekend JZ and I went up alone and lasted only one night - the banging windows and doors had us convinced the house was haunted.
Patricia was an old friend - someone that I hadn't seen in years, but someone who made a mark on me when I was very young. She was honest, direct and didn't put up with incompetence, but she was also gracious, funny and loved life. I will miss her glamour and earthiness - and the way she balanced them both.