Photography by Fotique
Barney: When I met Jim, I thought he was attractive. I mean, I met him: He was attractive. We used to get together and talk and get to know one another, and the more I got to know him, the more I fell in love with him. What stopped me was that he had a partner who was dying, Robert Palmer, and was his caregiver. Actually, I had known Robert since before he even knew Jim; he was a bit older than me and worked in Massachusetts. We had talked, and he was the one who convinced Jim to come to the event [where we met]; he said that he had told Jim he was dying and that he thought he should meet somebody else. I thought I had met a really good guy, but we weren’t really free to do anything until January of 2007.
We started dating fairly seriously just as I became chairman of the House Financial Services Committee -- and right in the middle of the financial crisis. He used to say I was seeing more flight attendants than him. But I was just occupied with the financial crisis. Jim is a very well-informed guy who has never been deeply involved in politics, and he found himself in the middle of all of this. It would follow me home during those first years of the crisis. Most Friday afternoons I would be up in Ogunquit, Maine, at Jim’s for the weekend, and I would get a call from the Secretary of the Treasury telling me about another bank that had failed or Speaker Pelosi would have some question.
Retirement is going to make things better. We will be able to spend time together. I’m better at doing nothing than he is; he’s always around the house doing work. But that’s all right -- love is all about finding a person who you care about even more than yourself. For Jim, hell would be an endless series of New York City cabs. We went down to meet Tim Geithner, who was then president of the Federal Reserve of New York, and Jim was so carsick that while I was meeting with Geithner, he was napping on Geithner’s couch.
Jim: Bob was looking for someone to take care of me when he died. It was part of his plan. He had no idea it would turn into what it has -- nor did I. And Barney was really respectful of my relationship with Bob. There would be times when I would stay for dinner and it would be 11 p.m. and I would drive home to be with Bob -- I would never forgive myself if anything happened. I think that really made Barney think more about relationships and how important they are.
It’s hard getting him to relax and take a nap. And he reads at all times -- he reads while he shaves. If you see pictures of him in the papers or on TV and he has little cuts on his face, that’s why. He gets the paper wet. The sink is all wet and the floor… and in the kitchen, too! You’ll just clean the kitchen and he’ll go in and make a snack and there are crumbs and chips and stuff everywhere. But hey, you know, that’s part of life.