5 Favorite Memories of Kim Ricketts
Sometimes you come across people who believe in you. Against all odds and expectations, they see a glimmer of something in you that you’ve always seen in yourself but maybe never told anyone about, and they make it their mission to help you draw it out. They come in the form of mentors, patrons, close friends—but they share the simple fact that at one point they believed in you more than you believed in yourself.
Kim Ricketts was one of those people to me. From the minute I met her she swept me up to me to her level, accepting the awkward, inexperienced, 23-year-old me as an equal. She did that to a lot of people. I’ve come across people of her public stature that treat newcomers to the scene as outsiders or wannabes; Kim’s tractor beam was enough to hold everyone.
Later I knew Kim mostly because of my friendship with her daughter Whitney. Because of this, I got to know her as I know all of my close friends’ moms—slightly overbearing and annoying in her attempts to be nurturing and, well, motherly. That was never a detractor. She was a great mother who loved her children and loved her children’s friends and encouraged everyone to be more than they were.
From the first day I met her she encouraged me to write and conquer the world… and her encouragement made me feel like I could do anything. It still does. It was an amazing gift she had.
These are Kim moments I will never forget.
1. A press opening at some restaurant in Seattle. I was in a room full of strangers, hovering awkwardly on the side. I’d never met her, but knew her by reputation and introduced myself. She gave me her full attention and we talked books. She offered a press spot at any of her events. “But… is there room for me?” I asked, unsure. She leaned into me conspiratorially. “There are always spots for fun people,” she said, and just like she’d tapped a magic wand, gave me the gift of self-confidence.
2. I wrote a scary, balls-out essay about my ex-husband. The night it was published online, I actually threw up I was so nervous about how everyone would respond. Kim tweeted about it the next morning: “Someone get this girl a book deal!” I know it sounds like a small thing, but that one sentence validated the personal risk I’d taken. Kim knew books—and though she was encouraging of talent, she was never fake. I knew I’d done something right.
3. IACP 2010, Portland, a midnight One Pot dinner. I’d been setting up—and drinking Prosecco—all day with Whitney and Maggie. By the time dinner rolled around, I was wasted. Kim’s radar went up. She made sure I sat in a corner, made sure I ate something and drank water, kept coming back to make sure that I was okay. It was tender and non-judgmental and mothering, and I needed a mother that night.
4. Last summer. Whitney and I had afternoon beers, and we ended up at the Ricketts kitchen, hanging out. Kim brought a perfect roast chicken out of the oven. “You should stay here the next time you’re in town,” she said. I was a little taken aback. “Uh, I think my mom might be offended. But thanks,” I said. Kim was nonplussed. “You’re always welcome here as part of the family,” she said. And she meant it.
5. An email she sent me a month ago.
hi Ms Anna and I know I will see you before this…but we are doing #4 of What We Talk About When We Talk About Food at the Palace Ballroom in June—can you be on the panel? We always have 150+ people there for appetizers and we laugh, cry, you read a piece from the book, you sign books. It’s perfect. Can’t wait to see you. Kim
I never saw her—she passed away three days ago after a long illness. But her influence, and enthusiasm, will stay with me forever. And someday I hope that I’ll be at a cocktail party and see an insecure twentysomething and be to them what Kim Ricketts was to me, if only for the evening.