To My Dear Friend Brent Chamberlain #4: For want of a vacation!

Dear Brent,

I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. I miss you terribly. One reason is that as the pandemic starts to lift (Alicia and I are vaccinated, Tilly not yet) we are starting to plan trips (did an 8 hour car trip to North Carolina that went really well a couple weekends ago) and I want to plan more trips with you. Correction: I want to go on more trips with you that you plan. : ) I hope we can do that again some day. To that end, I have two things I’d like to say.

First, we were bummed that we moved last summer because we had been hoping to get a mysterious anonymous postcard in the mail from someplace in Europe–knowing your penchant for the anachronistically charming snail mail postcard. Alicia would ask me regularly if we had seen any unmarked postcards. But she’s stopped asking now that we are in a new house that you don’t know the address for, and we’ve been reluctant to post our home address online. Also, with the pandemic and some things happening at work, I lost a permanent work address for a time so I couldn’t give you that. That has now changed! I am fancy now and have my own office in a psychology building on Penn’s main campus. So, in the future, please send mysterious postcards to the following address. I share an office wall with Dr. Barb Mellers!

Attn: Dr. Jer Clifton, Primals Project Director (the title is not necessary, but I’m adding it for the sake of coolness)

Solomon Labs, 3720 Walnut Street, Room C2

Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia USA 19104

We may or may not take a vacation to wherever a postcard happens to come from over the next few months. We are whimsical like that.

Secondly, several stories keep coming to mind from our trip to England together a few years ago. I think my all time favorite is the convergence of drunkenness and birds.

It was a dark and stormy night. Kevin and Alicia had gone to bed, but you and I were still holding it down drinking scotch in the living room of our cottage. Then we heard Alicia scream and we looked at each other and ran up stairs, drinks in hand just in case some emergency drinking was needed. We burst into Alicia’s room to find her plastered against the wall. She turns and whispers fiercely, “I think there is a bird in our room!”

Things got a little blurry for me at that point. Apparently there were two small and cute birds–a mother and baby? Apparently they had flown through the open window to get out of the rain and at various intervals were behind pieces of furniture, caught in the curtains flapping wildly, or making loud song noises. Apparently at some point at my strong and ignorant urgings we turned off all the lights, thinking that the birds would fly out the window if it was dark in the room and lighter outside, but really all that happened was we lost the ability to see, began to loudly stumble around the room bumping into things, intermittently terrified that we would either hurt or be attacked by tiny birds. Building on my first brilliant idea, I at some point had a second brilliant idea: we just needed more light outside to coax the birds out, so I ran outside into the rain, trying to shine my iPhone light in the 2nd floor bedroom window as I pushed through shrubs surrounding the house. My favorite moment of the evening was me completely drenched, drunk, standing in the rain for a good 20 minutes, shining my iPhone uselessly at a far-away window, and not seeing anyone yet hearing intermittently loud yells, shrieks, flapping, whispers, and stumbling by you and Alicia as you ran ineffectually around in a pitch dark room scared to death of two cute little birds. This would be followed by pauses followed by more loud running around and fearful shrieks. I’m fairly confident that I enjoyed several sips of scotch as I waited in the rain, confident that my plan was on the verge of working.

Come home soon and let’s have more adventures. We have a dedicated guest room now with a queen size bed and we are very proud of it. You are always welcome.

With affection,


And of course some pics:

Tilly wearing Dada’s hat on a recent camping trip.
A better picture of Tilly was needed, though the facial expression is about identical.
Tilly and me planting two container lemon trees. No Alicia pictures were included because I was too lazy to run any Alicia pictures by said Alicia.

About Jer Clifton

Look up, friend. The world is too beautiful for my eyes alone. View all posts by Jer Clifton

One response to “To My Dear Friend Brent Chamberlain #4: For want of a vacation!

  • Anonymous

    Dear Brent,
    I’ve had the strongest memories of you lately. I have been writing e-mails to you for a couple of years now, saving them as drafts, feeling a longing to send them anyway. I return to this blog to be reminded of you, to let myself feel a little bit of that connection again, and to read about some of your many adventures. I can imagine you telling the story of the birds and the scotch, too. I may have shared this with you before- I really hope I did- so many of my fondest memories include you. Certain music brings you to mind, walking by the store you worked in downtown, even the scent of some candles reminds me of you. For me, it is this dialectic of recognizing that it was a deeply fraught time for you and also recognizing that knowing you provided so much light and goodness to my life. I feel sad and happy when I think about those times- I always feel grateful when I think of you. So, this is just a note to say that I’m missing you.
    Love from,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: