One of my favorite people in this world has moved on to another today. I am glad her suffering is over, I am sad that she is gone, and my heart breaks for her dear husband Sean, every bit her match and mate. For those that don’t know her, I’d love to tell you of a truly magical person, and for those that do, I’d like to add my stories of her to yours.
I first met Angelique Lee in 1998 in New Orleans. In a chaotic whirlwind of a visit to the city, that my memory plays back as a frenetic swirl of colors, scents, and odd characters emerging from the kaleidoscopic event horizon, she sticks out as a crystal clear, calming, smiling, and kindly face, as she later does in many other memories of strange, wild times.
Angelique made life into a fairy tale in every moment. With her black lace victorian dresses, and her striped tights and vintage shoes conjuring imagery of the Wicked Witch of the West while the sparkling eyes and gentle, childlike smile framed by her slightly unruly black hair assured you that she was much more closely related to Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, she always caused the air to shimmer a bit in a low, comforting glow everywhere she went; and I am certain you would be hard-pressed to find someone who’d met her and wouldn’t agree 100%.
Whenever I think of her, I am instantly reminded of the pockets of calm she would create in the psychedelic storm of the parties and circles we would cross paths in.
Moments at the Autonomous Mutant Festival that I would be blindly stumbling, hallucinating madly, through the dark forest, from one brightly lit sound system to the next, and would come across her crouched in a a small grove, surrounded by candles and strange knick-knacks, and she would look at me and smile as if she’d been expecting me all evening, at exactly that time, and forego any greetings or salutations, as if we’d already been sitting there speaking, and just ask “Would you like to sit in this nook, drink tea and tell stories?”
The day in San Francisco that her boyfriend at the time had been held in jail for the evening, so to comfort him, stayed on the phone all night, reading to him the entirety of “Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman.
Angelique was simultaneously a wizened old grandmother, and a delighted little girl. She had the eyes of someone who knew, coupled with the smile and curiosity of a child experiencing everything for the first time.
My favorite story about her is also one of my favorite stories to tell in general:
In 1999, I lived at the SPAZ house in the Outer Sunset district of San Francisco. I’d just started up the circus I travelled with for years, met hundreds of strange new people, and had collided with a series of bizarre pockets and tribes of artists and general lunatics that would later be some of the closest people to me in my life. Many people lived at that house, way TOO many if you asked half the folks that really ran and took care of the place…
Angelique had taken up in a little attic in a smaller house out in the backyard. Being the dark, smiling faerie, disguised as a human being that she was, she’d constructed her roofing of corrugated tin and various mosses, and decked out her little shack-loft with a series of witch trappings unique to her. It had a small little square window in it, near the arch of the roof, much like the square attic window in an old barn, but only big enough for a person to lean out of, or crawl into.
That day a storm was coming in, and the house being one block from the beach would get hit especially hard. Her roofing wasn’t complete yet, and wouldn’t hold out through the storm, so Angelique was coming in and out of the house, grabbing supplies, frantically working to finish her roof and secure it before the storm hit.
I was in the house drawing and relaxing, the house was empty, and being as she’d been out back for the last hour or so, I forgot I wasn’t alone there. I went out back and lit a cigarette, and walked into the garden, looking up at the dark, foreboding clouds filling the southwestern portion of the sky and closing in slowly, blotting out the sun as they came. I was lost in thought, completely unaware I wasn’t alone, when I heard a muffled voice, much, much closer than the sounds of thunder rolling in the distance so low they were felt more than heard. My gaze shot from the sky to a spot a bit lower and to my left and saw a sight that left me in stitches.
There, sticking from the small, square attic window, were Angelique’s legs, kicking frantically, wrapped in red and white striped tights and ending in her black victorian buckle shoes as the rest of her was propped inside, stuffing moss into the roof. Kicking, striped, Wicked-Witch legs contrasting starkly against the mottled gray storm front while she chattered wildly to herself about how desperately she need to finish.
That visual had me shaking with laughter. So happy to be alive in a world where moments of such storybook absurdity could happen.
That is what I think of every time I think of her.
I write this story, and the others, not for her benefit but for yours, because I believe all of us that knew her are so lucky to have had her presence around us in this life, and now, she has crossed through the veil to bring her light to another world somewhere.
But even though she is somewhere else, I do hope these words can make it to her: Angelique, thank you. Thank you so much, for coloring my world the way you did. For not only showing me your magic, but showing me that magic can be so bright, and so innocent, and not always be cursed with a sinister edge. Thank you for seeing me, truly seeing me, and in doing so, helping me to be able to someday truly see myself. The small but powerful indentations you made in my reality I have always carried with me as inspiration, and I will continue to draw on them as I move forward, forever being changed knowing you. I know that I was not good at expressing my love, adoration, and caring until the last few years, but I am so glad I got to tell you these things a few months ago at the marina, amongst our friends. You have been one of my favorite beings in this universe since the day I met you. I don’t know if we met before this life, perhaps we did, but I am certain we will meet again. Until then, know that I love you, dearly, as do so many others.
And to Sean, please know that you are every bit your wife’s counterpart, you too are an exceptional and magical being. My heart breaks for you my friend, but please know that I, and our other friends, will hold your wife in our hearts, as well as you in our arms if need be. Please stay here with us as long as you can to tell us more stories of the being that shares her heart with yours, and to build more to inspire us.
I love both of you, very much.