It was New York City in the ’80s. The Reagan years. Donald Trump was an annoyance even then, but the toxin was at least locally confined to the five boroughs of New York.

Kym Dakin, second from left, between her daughter and her husband. In front are her New York friends Rahti, left, and Richard. Photo courtesy of Kym Dakin

I met Rahti at the Actors Information Project. We were in the same accountability group, tasked with building our fabulous careers in the theater by setting goals: bugging five agents, sending out resumes, tripping a few casting directors, etc.

Rahti was small in stature, as am I, so there was bonding right there. She also appeared, at least at the beginning of our accountability tenure, to be as uncomfortable in these groups as I was. But once she opened up, I found I could as well.

That was where, on the surface, our similarities ended. She had raven, naturally curly locks; mine were long, red, straight as a stick. She exuded East Coast beginnings; my roots were out West. She yearned for comedy fame; I had my sights on “serious” acting.

Somehow, we got to talking family dynamics, and discovered we both had toxic siblings – a situation that remains, sadly, even today. I don’t remember the moment I knew we would be lifelong friends, but it took root somewhere around that discovery.

I met her new boyfriend – Richard, whom she encountered at a comedy club audition – and that was maybe the most fun wedding I’ve ever been part of. How could it not be? Almost everyone there was a comedian!

Years later, they hit a rough patch. I felt personally betrayed. I myself had gone through a nasty divorce and “The R&R Show,” as I’d dubbed them, was my ideal of the perfect marriage. Thankfully, they fixed things up, and the aftermath drew them closer together.

Each year, as they have until COVID, these entrenched “New Yohkahs” visited me in Maine. Up here, you can see them coming from 50 miles away. They’re loud, friendly and kind of high-maintenance but enthusiastic about everything they see and do – except the time I decided to take them camping.

My husband and daughter had the exact same expression on their faces when I hatched this idea: “You’re kidding, right?!” Undaunted, I planned our venture at Recompense in Freeport – just far enough away for nature, while close to home for emergencies … or whatever we forgot.

Rahti pondered the battered tent that would house them, sighed deeply, rolled her eyes. Richard sprayed everything within 50 yards with bug spray. The first night … was tough. But by our final evening, we’d established the kind of peace in nature I had hoped for them, along with the easy rhythm we had always been able to find between us. Over three days we hiked, kayaked and biked the wilderness. And they survived!

I told them I was proud of them for embracing this new adventure. Rahti shrugged, rolled her eyes. “We’re New Yorkers. We whine, but we show up.” Yes, they do.

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