Glad you came along


Trigger warning: this post is about 9-11 and love and loss. 

Dear J,

Tomorrow morning it will be seventeen years since you died. How unbelievable that seems right now. I think about the events that took your life nearly every day, and yet it still surprises me every year when the emotion and sadness creep up on me.

I remember the first time I saw you and the last. Both times you were playing music, you, the self-described “mediocre bass player.” The bass remains my favorite instrument. The last time I saw you I met your wife and your little boy—I’m not sure your daughter was born yet, though of course I saw her at your memorial. They were beautiful children and from what I’ve ascertained through Facebook, they are beautiful adults.

Of course they are. You were a beautiful, kind soul. Too kind for me, which is probably why our romance was so brief; I was in my early 20s and not yet ready for someone quite as decent as you. And of course we didn’t last so that you could get together with and marry your wife and create those beautiful kids.

I remember the holiday party after you died, when the band sat and played an acoustic set and there was an empty chair for you. I remember the next morning—I’d stayed over at Sean and Ivy’s—Sean was making breakfast and singing along to the song “Santeria”, and so that song will forever remind me of you.

I hadn’t realized you’d switched jobs, and so I didn’t know where you were working until Sean called to tell me you’d not been found. I don’t know how this has never occurred to me before, but I wonder, when I was at the site giving food to the rescue workers three days later, so close that we could feel the buildings still smoldering, I wonder how far away from me you were.

I remember when you were found.

Legend has it that your last words were, “OH FUCK”.  I can still conjure your voice and hear you say that.

I didn’t visit Ground Zero again until last June, when my friend came to town from New Orleans. This is a friend who, like me, knows that there is an afterlife. As soon as we got off the subway, she became overwhelmed with emotion. We walked around for a bit and I didn’t expect I’d find your name and then there it was.

I remember the first time we met up on purpose and Laura Martin was there. I have long imagined that you and Laura Martin spend time together wherever it is that you are now, and when my Louie died in March I comforted myself by visualizing the three of you as a makeshift family.

I remember our first date.

The title of this post is from the song “Here Today,” which Paul McCartney wrote about his dear friend John Lennon.

I’m a very different person today than I was when we were friends. I’m much more sure of myself. I know who I am, though I’m still a work in progress. You and my man would get along well. I know you would.

It’s raining tonight, not like it was on your last night on earth, because that was quite a deluge. But it’s raining enough to remind me.

At the tenth anniversary your mom remarked that she fantasizes that you’ve flown to Hawaii and are living there happily. We are contemplating a trip there in January; maybe I’ll see you.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, know that you are missed and loved by many. You were a prince among men. And an excellent friend.

I leave you with this verse written by another friend whom I know you would love:

In the blinking of an eye, soon everything will change

From a clear September sky, the brimstone falls like rain.

If true love soars the heavens, pretend and we can fly.

Soon everything will change, my love, in the blinking of an eye.*

Until we meet again-


*Poetry by Neil Thomas


Crazy little thing called love


Happy Valentine’s day, folks.

Alas, my week+ in the country is coming to a close, and tomorrow I’ll be back in the city. This is the longest I’ve ever spent up here, I think, and while I haven’t yet met my re-writing goal, I’ve made a lot of progress … and who knows, maybe I can power through the rest before we leave. Stranger things have happened, like the fact that I wrote the thing in the first place.

While I am an okay writer, I happen to be one of the greats where procrastination is concerned. I could teach a master class if I got around to it.  Being away from the distractions of home has been very helpful, but I still manage to find endless ways to avoid working on my book.

It’s not laziness. I used to think that it was, but it’s something else, or a combination of many things. In part it’s wondering why the hell I’m bothering with this thing in the first place. It’s second-guessing every word choice and phrase and reminding myself that I’m not supposed to be micro-editing at this point, and this turns into distraction. Into thinking that I’m a better editor than I am a writer and that maybe that’s what I should be doing, which leads to my looking on the interwebs for freelance editing jobs and then remembering the person I’d been in touch with last year about editing and trying to find his email and then looking back online for freelance rates to see if I’m underselling my services (I am—if you want good, cheap editing, give me a call) and then a banner ad reminds me that I need a microplane so I go onto Amazon to buy one and next thing I know, 33 Celebrities You Never Knew Were Psychic—# 17 Will Shock You! and This Baby Goat Wandered Into A Dunkin’ Donuts: What Happened Next Will Melt Your Heart! And then, speaking of Dunkin’ Donuts, where is old Jared these days? Has he been sentenced? And then Subway reminds me of college … I wonder what So-and-So is up to? Let me Google him… and now I’m hungry (but not for Subway, never for Subway) but I have to finish this section of this chapter and so I do and it’s not as hard as I thought it would be. Then I read back over what I’ve written and it’s actually quite decent and I’m shocked. And somehow a book gets written.

It’s so easy to be distracted. And so counterproductive. And so human. Maybe I have ADD. Look at that cloud! I love my dog.

I had hoped to commune more with nature this week, but the weather prohibited much of that … we had beautiful snowfall, though, so that was nice, and I suppose I communed from inside looking out. This morning a bird flew into the kitchen window; I heard the telltale thunk and looked outside, and the little guy (or gal) was sitting there, stunned, while his/her pals feasted from the nearby feeders. I drank my coffee, figuring that since he (I’m going with “he”) was up he’d be okay, then saw him still sitting there some ten minutes later. I looked up what to do in this situation and prepared, accordingly, a shoebox with a little bird bed and bird blanket. When I went outside to place him (with gloved hand) into his bed, which I was then going to keep somewhere warm for two hours (all per instructions on seemingly reputable birdsites) so that he wouldn’t freeze to death or be eaten by predators, he flew away. He’d played possum for 25 minutes. So there you have it, your moment of avian zen.

I’ve spent most of this past week in ski pants and tank tops or workout clothes, and I went whole days without looking in the mirror which, for me, is quite a feat. When I did leave the house to go on glamorous errands to the Price Chopper or the Big Y, I got so gussied up I looked like the village whore.

Tomorrow I’m back to the unreal real world of Manhattan, and I have busy days ahead. I will definitely do this again, though, as I get closer to the end of this draft. I hope.

Oh yes, Valentine’s Day. Love, that mercurial beast. A friend (by which I mean someone I’ve met once and befriended on Facebook) wrote something to the effect of: Love is important, and can be messy and beautiful. Today I honor the beautiful part of it.

I agree—messy, beautiful, important, in all of its many manifestations.

To the people I love, and I think you know who you are, know that I appreciate your perfect imperfections and your love for me, flaws and all.

Love one another, love your partners and your parents and your friends and whomever you choose to love.

[rant]To those of you who err on the competitive/mean-spirited/gossipy/schadenfreude side of “friendship”, and you certainly know who you are, I say this: stop it. Grow up. The world is in chaos and there’s plenty of negativity. Stop going out of your way to breed more of it. [/rant]

Love is no more important today than it is any other day of the year. The world is a big, scary place, so let’s create a microcosm of coziness, warmth, and support. I’ve got your back if you’ve got mine.

I’ve received my first blog-commission; a friend asked me to elaborate on my comment that  “I am not where I thought I’d be at 45. I didn’t have specific ideas of where I’d be, but this certainly wasn’t it.” So I will, but I have to give it some thought. Thank you, CA, for the inspiration!

Love, love, love. Love is all there is. All you need is love. Love the one you’re with.

Love is the drug for me.

And now back to Chapter 8, already in progress.