Letters from Me, Day 8: Robert T. Thomsen, Albany, NY

Dear Bob,

I got a little bit of writer's block when I opened the blank page to write this letter. 

And it's not because I have nothing to say. It's not that I don't know how to say it. It's not that it's hard to talk to you, because as you know, we can talk for hours – days? – at a time. It's really that I have too much to say, and I just don't know where to start when putting pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard.)

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We met in a classroom, at Queensbury High School. Or was it the auditorium? My guess it was at rehearsal for my very first musical, Bye Bye Birdie in 1999. You played Albert Peterson, the frazzled manager of Conrad Birdie. You were a junior, tall, handsome, popular with the theater people, a great singer and actor with a killer head of hair and these expressive hands that moved when you talked, glinting in the stage lights with two silver rings. 

I was a chorus girl, just a freshman in a plaid skirt and red sweater from the Salvation Army and a little too much blush on my cheeks. I admired you for your stage presence, and said that someday I, too, would get a lead part and shine on the QHS stage. We didn't talk much - maybe at all - that first year. You were just a bit intimidating, and I clustered with the other freshmen and my friends in the crew in the corner, while you loudly debated Mr. Leonard from center stage.

Well it didn't take long for our paths to cross again.

The following year, I entered the Madrigal Singers, what I believed to be the most elite group in the whole school. I was one of 3 sophomores, and by then, you were a senior. I was still a bit shy with upperclassmen, but I soon learned that you were hilarious...and friendly!

By February, I went out on a limb and invited you to my sophomore semi-formal. And that was that. We started hanging out after play practice (our next show was How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and I did get to share the stage with you that year). We'd head to Steve's Place at 9:30 at night, sometimes staying until the wee hours of the morning. Or we'd drive around singing show tunes at the top of our lungs. We took a cruise to the Bahamas together with the Madrigals, and got our hair braided and snuck rum drinks on the top deck of the boat. That year, I bid you farewell as you headed off to school, but life had more time in store for us while you decided what you wanted next.

We spent the next two years getting into trouble and taking over the world together, and it wasn't until I went off to college in Boston in 2002 that we went our separate ways for a bit. We never went too long though, and you were a constant in my dorm room, getting to know my classmates and friends like you were one of us. To this day, when I see an old friend from BU, one I may not have seen for years, they ask me, "How's Bob?" Despite the distance, you were still my partner in crime.

It was at this time that you found what you'd been looking for all of this time. You found hair.

You'd always been a natural. (Rolling a Coke can up with my bangs to achieve that Dallas height for my role in The Most Happy Fella when I was a junior. Curls for my prom, even with a broken foot. The list goes on.) But you took that inclination and began to build a career out of it. You weren't just good…you were great. You absorbed all of the knowledge your school had to offer, you took on side projects, you collaborated with new teams and took more classes and I was your model all along the way. I would come visit you in Albany when you lived on Hudson Ave and we'd go out on the town and meet new friends and make plans for our next trip or adventure and I'd always have glorious hair.

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The summer of 2005, you took your skills to a new place. You joined me in Boston. That summer sticks in my memory as the true picture of youth. We were young and didn't need sleep and we worked our butts off, and played just as hard. August came, and after celebrating your birthday, it was time for me to go to London for the semester. I came to find out (and was delighted) that you were on your way to join me once again.

We toured Europe together...with your giant suitcases and our big scarves and sunglasses. We ate and drank our way through London, Amsterdam and Paris. We came home exhausted.

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But guess what? That was almost 10 years ago.

We've had 10 more years of adventures, late night phone calls, trips to Vegas, the beach, the mountains, New York over and over again. Your relationship with Justin has grown and grown, and you both welcomed Dylan into our lives when he and I met.

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We have had great, sweeping ups and low, difficult downs. But we've always come back to one another, as friends and siblings and competitors and partners and consultants and cheerleaders. I am lucky to have called you a best friend for almost half my life. Can't wait to see what the next 15 years brings for us both.

Love,

Amanda

P.S. Call me later.