So that post about Squares and Bauhaus really called up the nostalgia in e-L, and got me thinking about the two friends who I briefly mentioned at the end of it. Ric, especially, because we were pretty close back in the day, and because now there is a for real reason for this tribute.
Ric arrived part way through the school year (what is it with me and the boys who crash the school year party?) but I honestly can't remember what grade. It was either 10 or 11, but I don't have anything more concrete than that, he always just seemed to be part of my life back then. He was in my French and English classes and possibly a couple of others, but I remember those two mostly because we did a lot of laughing in both. We hit it off right away, same senses of humour, same interest in films and music, all of that stuff that's important. He quickly established a school newspaper, and my friend A and I quickly became his movie reviewers. We reviewed some of the crappiest movies of the 80s - remember Remo Williams the Adventure Begins? Yeah, we panned that long before Siskel & Ebert did, I'm sure.
In English class once, we were discussing a short story dealing with planned obsolescence, and the teacher asked Ric to explain in his own words what he thought that meant. So the boy goes on and on about growing up, and certain expectations of youth, and how parental influences dictate what you become. We were all staring at him and finally the teacher spoke: "um actually, planned OBSOlescence, not ADOlescence". And he was quick to reply "oh. well, then, I have no idea what I'm talking about!" It was awesome. Another time he and another girl and I were assigned the poem "The Woodpile" to analyse and we elected him the rep to actually get up and talk about our thoughts. So when he stood up to give the presentation he confidently said "So Camille, Elizabeth and I did it on The Woodpile..." and the crowd went wild, people. Again, nothing short of brilliant.
My yearbooks have inscriptions from him such as "I like you because you like David Byrne and plain doughnuts" and "my yearbook photo didn't make it in this year, so here is a self-portrait. No camera can capture the true beauty" and a drawing of a train on a track that stated simply "my train of thought".
We would go see movies together at the local rep theatre, The Broadway, he knew the guy that owned it. He'd pick me up in his Datsun without a floor (okay the floor was only missing on the passenger side of the car, and there was a strategically placed floormat, but if it moved at all you could just see the road whipping by) and we did a bunch of full-participation Rocky Horror Picture Shows there, and movie documentaries like Stop Making Sense were our faves (see David Byrne reference above). At one point I briefly considered that he could be potential boyfriend material, but quickly reconsidered. He was too good a best boy bud, and I didn't want to mess things up. So we continued status quo, hanging out and belly laughing everywhere we went.
After highschool we attended the same hometown university, me in History and him in Economics and Political Science or something jazzy along those lines. Our paths didn't cross very often, and we probably only saw each other a few times on campus. At the end of our time there, we somehow managed to learn that we were graduating on the same day, and both hated the thought of going. On graduation day, he picked me up (by this time, different car, fully floored) and we bitched and moaned the whole way there about how our parents were forcing us to go, it was like 5000 degrees out, it was going to be sooooo boring, and really who goes to their grad? Then we started talking about our parents - mine, working-class types who never graduated highschool, and his, Brazilian immigrants who also had little education. Then we were quiet for a bit and decided to suck it up and be happy we had the opportunity, realizing finally (duh) how proud we were making our parents. So we graduated and posed for a couple of photos together, and talked about plans for the future. Mine were simple: bum around for most of the summer, and then hit up the UK and Ireland for a full-on backpacking extravaganza. He had already been accepted at law school, and would be working his ass off all summer to pay for it. Always the responsible one.
After uni, I'd see him once in awhile, usually around Christmas when he was home. We'd go for a drink, and talk about how when he was a high-flying lawyer he'd hire me and we'd work together a la Perry Mason and Della Street. Good times those, and lots of good memories. We lost touch, but I was always so sure we'd get together again.
So how much of a shock was it this morning when I opened the Announcements section of the paper and saw his obituary. Full on body slamming punch to the gut shocking. I couldn't believe it, refused to believe it. I still don't. In his 41st year... Beloved husband of... Adoring father of... Loving son....brother... will be missed my many family and friends.... No fucking way. I cried long and hard. 41 years is not enough time on this earth.
When I recovered somewhat I could look at the photo. It made me smile that he looked the same, just with less hair. It's a great photo, totally capturing his personality, I think. It made me happy that he'd been happy - wife, two kids.. But then the crashing grief that they must be feeling, how can you even imagine?
Every day I am reminded that life is precious and short and should not be taken for granted. Every. Day. And while I'm reminded, seldom do I really think long and hard on it. Today though? That's all I can think about. I can't wait to go home and hug John and the boys, tell them that I love them. And to all of you too, consider yourselves virtually loved and hugged.
And seriously. Let's get together...before we get much older.