My dearest friend Eileen, died suddenly on the 16th day of October 2007. We were never able to fulfill plans we had made a couple weeks earlier to spend time together as soon as she returned from Cuba. We were going make a time of it, girls night in or out, just her and I making up for all the lost years. We spoke on the telephone regularly but in spurts of time that could span for months. The last time we actually saw each other was in 1993. I went to see her before moving from Philadelphia to Seattle. She took me to see Like Water For Chocolate, she couldn’t wait to watch my face as I reacted to the love scene on the horse. After that we went shopping for Fluevogs then dinner at a lovely restaurant and then the most unlikely thing happened. The clutch in her car broke it threw a wrench in the rest of the plans we had made for that night. Had she not been in a monogamous relationship with her lover of several years I am sure that we would have done as we always did when we saw each other. We would have stepped right back into her room on Curlew Street tearing each others clothes right off!

Eileen Griffin 'Cuba'
Eileen Griffin 'Cuba' ©Unknown

Eileen Griffin 'Cuba'
Eileen Griffin 'Cuba' ©Unknown

 
I shared a lifetime of friendship with Eileen, I knew her since the early 1970's. She was one of the first women that I fell head over heals for after Gayle. At that age crushes come easy to most of us, hell I'm still like that. I went to see her one night without calling first. She wasn't home... I didn’t leave though I opted to stay and wait for her. I sat there in her living room at her Curlew Street home on a vintage wine velvet couch with a dozen roses on my lap staring through the walls.. I just waited and waited for her for what felt like an eternity. I dressed in what I thought was my sexiest attire I wore a black derby, white men's undershirt, black jeans that I designed and hand stitched. They were what we call skinny jeans today, a pair of gogo boots and a silk scarf, jaja! No undergarments. I knew what I wanted and that's what I went to Eileen's to get! I couldn't wait to undress for her and stand there naked in the shadow of candlelight in my derby and scarf. She walked through the door and I sat up eagerly to greet her as her date strolled in behind her, my heart sunk. Graciously, Eileen made tea for all three of us and put my roses in a vase. She kissed me softly and thanked me and then brought me a blanket and pillow, she insisted that I stay the night so I did. Then she whispered something to her date who left shortly after, which pleased me very much!

Eileen Griffin 'Cuba'
Eileen Griffin 'Cuba'  ©Unknown

 

There I was in my teens, all curled up on her couch being ever so quiet patiently waiting for the sun to rise. Eileen woke early the next morning and made me breakfast, another cup of tea and oatmeal. After breakfast she invited me to her room and we talked for hours. I fell asleep in her arms and woke up with her on her elbow staring at me. She leaned down slowly and kissed me. I couldn't tell you how many days we camped out in her room and terrace. We ate, fucked, made love, laughed and laughed and yes I also cried. That particular moment was so natural to me but also just as frightening. Eileen helped me through it, she was always so good to me. She gave me my first car it was a 1961 VW Bug, jaja.. lime green! I loved it so fucking much! She didn't want me hitchhiking everywhere I went anymore. As hard as she tried not to and fought it because of my age years later she confessed to falling in love with me. She loved me and a million other women all at the same time. That was just her style, I didn't mind it especially back then. She looked out for me in a special way after Curlew Street we became very good friends. When we weren't running around to concerts, shows or films we were downtown San Diego just roaming the streets. Eileen and I had a very passionate, loyal and even more private love affair and friendship. Her good friend and roommate Pat didn't like me, I didn't care, I figured she was jealous. Because of that I only spent time at Eileen's home when Pat wasn't there. Throughout the years that followed we worked on several projects together in San Diego, Los Angeles and the Bay Area, The Artists Coalition, The Women's Center, Las Hermanas, F Street Artists Studio, Free Inez Garcia, and Califia just to name a few. Later in our friendship, Eileen said that she always admired me my tenacity, she said most people would have left or caused a scene confronted with the same situation. She was referring to the fact that I just showed up at her home, uninvited and unannounced. That was one of the many things that I learned from Eileen, always call before you visit someone at their home.


Eileen Griffin with the love of her life.
Eileen Griffin with the Love of her life,  Washington DC ©Unknown

 

I was so very privileged to be one of the few people in her life that she took to her art studio. It was an extraordinary experience to look at her through her work. Unfortunately soon after that the studio burnt down and she never quite recovered from losing all her art and creations. So she did what great women do who just don't give up or quit. Eileen shifted midstream from artist, photographer, percussionist to sound engineer. She worked on several projects and stayed in San Diego for several years but it was not enough. She uprooted herself and moved from California to DC. She accomplished great and wondrous things at NPR and the White House. She used to send me pictures of herself posing with the president. Given her background she got a real kick out of that. One of her favorite sayings in the early years of our friendship was, "Fancy meeting you here." I think perhaps that is much what filled her mind about herself as she posed with President Reagan.

Eileen had a charitable heart and kind spirit. She was always involved with political causes and spent the last few years of her life taking medicine, food and clothing to her children in Cuba. That is how "Tia Plasticita" came about. She was given that title by the children in Cuba who ran to greet her as she carried large plastic bags filled with gifts for them.

Eileen was a grand and beautiful woman and I am honored to have known her. It was a privilege to call her my friend, business partner & lover, my Agua Dulce. I will dearly miss you Eileen, as will all your friends & family stateside and adopted family, friends and dear children in Cuba. Sleep with Gods angels my sweet darling Eileen, my Agua Dulce, I love you. -Petra Maricela Thompson Violetarojo