A dear friend of mine died this week. As is my habit – I am not a public griever – and I usually turn to my journal and write and write and write. A child of the 80s and 90s – and the gruesome reality of the AIDS holocaust – I am no stranger to death.
This one caused me to pause and stop – hard.
While this post isn’t autobiographical, it does make me smile and tear up and then smile again. The hardest things when someone leaves us are sometimes the thoughts of where we might have journeyed together had it turned out differently and how to process that it will never happen. I have so many names of people I miss – people who created beautiful moments in my life. I miss them all. but perhaps in writing and incorporating all these beautiful stories into my writing, as an author is prone to do, the beautiful truth of who they were will continue to be experienced.
Only for You
I would hear windchimes and recognize the wind as a southern Idaho breeze. I would realize the chimes were in G major. Because I’m anal retentive that way. G Major – all christian rock from 1970 on – is in G major and C major. When you flip through radio stations you can tell you’ve landed on the all christian all the time station by the lack of minor keys and the use of a 1980s KORG piano in 2017.
I remembered meeting you in the drugstore on 5th street. We’d found each other and knew immediately that having done so made us different. It all became the way we used to be. We didn’t need to find a way to make how it was supposed to be work. We had found a new way.
I remember the grassy slope of the park and how we discussed every constellation on those scary clear Idaho small town nights. This was the only public time or place being near you was allowed. We hadn’t quite found our escape path yet.
I would smell the dusty inside of my volksvagen when we’d moved from foothills of Yellowstone to the land of Yosemite. How we’d sing along to Amy Grant records then pull over and jack each other off in the middle of the desert. It’s not that Amy Grant turns me on – or turned you on necessarily – its just that the two things became paired as a result of that trip.
I remember our first moments in San Francisco. We’d parked the vdub in our new garage and before touching a box, took a walk down Castro street hand in hand. I remember when you said “hey – I’m going to write a book” and I smiled with encouragement. You weren’t the best at finishing things then. But imagine my surprise when you brought it to me to read. I remember being so proud of you.
Then the sadness came, we recognized it in the auburn ripples in each other’s eyes. The sadness. Oh, how the world stopped when you pushed me up against the wall of the club, both of us drunk and using our lust to try to escape it.
The first time I saw you at the podium speaking about the sadness and triumphing over it, I was so proud. Still keep that chip in the small pocket in your jeans? When I saw the sadness creeping back in, I cried. I still do.
I don’t know where you went when you left, but I wait on the stoop for you. You’ll turn ‘our’ corner in your heavy black boots, thick Italian hair shining in the sun. You’ll avoid looking at me until the very last second. But when you do, we’ll fight the sadness together.
Accepting the fact that my romantic notion will never come true has been really hard. That’s what I get for being a romantic.
In the abstract, the fact that the sadness claimed you is hard enough – but the letter from your sister about how they’d found you. Your earbuds in – the gentlest of smiles on your face. You were no longer there, however. But you’d left the saddest smile behind. I remember admitting to friends I wish I’d done more – wish I’d worked harder to keep the sadness away. only to realize that the sadness was part of our DNA – and that surviving the sadness wasn’t the path meant for you.
as these things sort them out – I had let myself forget about the sadness and the way it had seemed to silently claim you amongst the noise of the world. Then here I was two months later at your memorial service. Only for you would I come to a memorial service. Only for you.
I came out of the daydream – the priest was still droning on about how compassionate God is and this and that. I leaned to my friend and said “I’d had enough God, for now, I’m going to go take a walk.” I got up and walked down the aisle and my eyes caught view of the labyrinth painted into the floor of the sanctuary. I let out a sigh, knowing how would have held me by the hand at the sight of it and insist that we solve it. I remember saying “but what if it leads to the dead end, what if you never reach the end?”
I am sitting here now on the stoop. Drinking a glass of horrible chardonnay.
I am a better person for having known you on a starry night or in a fight or in an orgasm or in a birthday party –
…oh hell.. what’s the point of listing off all the times that you made happen? Cheers, my dearest. I will miss you.