Saturday, June 6, 2009

ghosts, shandy, and cheese puffs after midnight

hmmm. i think most of you dear readers...know that my postings after midnight may often be a bit pensive, surreal, or just plain odd.

yet, they are always very honest.

there is something about writing after midnight...maybe it is the weariness...that seems to provide me with almost a safe haven to be as pensive and honest as i want to be.
this has been the case since i was a neophyte foodie hunter. i think if i had my druthers i'd be a night owl. many a night i would find myself writing in my various journals by the street light beaming through my bedroom window. however, when i was a neophyte foodie hunter, i hadn't figured out how to make my own shandy....which i am drinking right now. it is quite refreshing actually and is likely assisting in my relaxed pensive state. i know it is a wussy drink....but it suits me quite nicely. for the shandy, i use one part sparkling water, one part beer (in this case it is abita amber), with meyer lemon, and agave. it goes quite nicely with cheese puffs. so here i am, writing.....and thinking about friendship, love, and loss....while drinking shandy and eating cheese puffs.

i should warn you right now that this post is going to be a bit...hmmmm...intense....and is not about food...so if you are not in the mood....i think you should stop reading right now.

...........

i view friendship as a gift...an unexpected one that should not be taken for granted. i know i have said quite a bit in this blog over the past year about how the most important thing for me is that those i love to know that i love them. i also know that this has befuddled some people and they wonder where it comes from. it comes from a culmination of experiences that have shaped who i am today. yet, it is around this time every year, that i remember a particularly significant one.

i was fourteen and a sophmore in high school when i met jeff in my honors geometry class. we were in completely different social stratospheres. i spent a rather inordinate amount of time at that age cultivating an active social life. i figured if i was only going to be in high school for a couple of years, (and given that this would be my last year in high school) i would make the most of it socially. i can be very goal-oriented. jeff, extremely bright, couldn't have cared less about the social cliques and to say that his home life was rather unpleasant would have been an extreme understatement. jeff and i became friends.
sometimes, we recognize people upon first meeting. we talked about lots of things from books, to comics, to math, to religion, to whatever came to mind. i urged him to express himself through his drawings....as i knew that we each needed to have our outlet...our sanctuaries. for me it was writing and for jeff, it was his comics. as that year drew to a close and i was getting mentally prepared for my first year of college, jeff handed me a letter the last day of class.

here is an excerpt from the letter....

"There is one thing that I didn't include in the note I left in your yearbook supplement. That one thing is that I am eternally grateful for what you have done to me. After I got into trouble for writing the story, "Jealousy", I turned hateful of all those whom I didn't already know. My soul was inundated with foreign feelings which included anger, rage, and malice. These feelings took over and the feelings that were worth anything, like love, were enclosed in a steel safe in my head and I disregarded them. This safe kept in all the good in me and all the bad was flowing free in my body, controlling not only my mind but my physical actions as well. In short, I was becoming a homicidal maniac and I felt no caring and no remorse for anyone with the exception of my own best friends. I thought that all the good in me was lost, but a miracle, you, found the key and unlocked the safe. You personally crashed down the wall in me and gave life to those feelings which had been lost. You freed feelings that I thought I would never feel again and showed me through your cheerful attitude that life was indeed worth living. Without you, my heart would have stayed black as coal and my soul would have evolved into one of the cruel in existence. You also saved my sanity. I literally would have torn myself apart inside and hatred would have engulfed my mind so much that I might have killed. I don't know exactly how you stopped my inevitable insanity, maybe it was your smile, the way you talked, the way you laughed, or just the way you cared for me....Thank you for being my conscience...Well, I am glad that I finally told you my real feelings. Please don't feel any remorse about leaving for I will keep in touch and I will never forget what you did for me. You have done so much for me, and I have done so little for you, I owe my soul to you. Thank you for being there."

jeff was sixteen when he gave me that letter. for about a year after i left high school, we hung out every once in a while. there would be a group of us that would hang out on the beaches of santa cruz until ungodly hours. yet, slowly we lost touch. there was no drama....it was just being wrapped up in different lives. unlike high school, i actually put significant effort into my classwork in college. i saw college as my ticket to independence. also, at the time, i thought...oh there will always be enough time to catch up. then one day, when i was about 16, i received a voicemail message from a former classmate. she said that she had been trying to track me down because jeff's memorial service was the next day.

there are certain details that i remember very little....like...i don't remember how exactly i got to the service. yet, i remember being very angry when i was actually at the service. i remember being extraordinarily angry at some of my former classmates for even having the gaul to attend the service given their behavior towards him. i remember thinking "what right did they have to honor him in death when they didn't in life?". it was then that i realized that funerals were for the living....and not for the dead. i remember not crying until i was hugging jeff's best friend. it was too hard not to. when he asked if i was going to the later event, i shook my head as i looked at some of the people and said that i couldn't. jeff's best friend understood.

i remember being extraordinarily angry at myself as well. for a long time. i was never angry at jeff though. i understood why he did what he did. i just wish that he would have held on for a while longer....so that he could see that he had choices. yet, i understand that sometimes it is difficult to realize that there are ways out....even when you feel helpless.

throughout the years, i look upon knowing him as a gift. i was fortunate to have met him and to have been his friend. this experience is also one of the reasons why i want those i love to know that i love them...since we really don't know what tomorrow will bring. not really.

so tonight....at 2am....in my very pensive mood....i find myself lifting my glass of shandy to toast "to friends no longer with us, but not forgotten."

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