“Feeling lost, crazy, and desperate belongs to a good life as much as optimism, certainty, and reason.”
“It doesn’t matter how many times you leave, it will always hurt to come back and remember what you once had and who you once were. Then it will hurt just as much to leave again, and so it goes over and over again.
Once you’ve started to leave, you will run your whole life.”
“Riches do not exhilarate us so much with their possession as they torment us with their loss.”
– – –
Crystal passed away a year ago. She was a genuine creature. Flawed and unpredictable, honest and bright. I am so terribly sorry for her husband’s loss, for our loss. She was a friend to everybody, specifically because she always spoke her truth and spoke it without fear. She was rude as hell, too. But fearlessness is a virtue few can boast. Crystal had it. And anybody who spoke with her for more than two minutes knew that, and remembered her.
I will always remember her. And now, even those of you who didn’t have the chance, please take a look at this face. The constant rebel, the rule-breaker who never took a second’s thought to ask “why.” No, no, no. Crystal, like all good thinkers, wasn’t too sophisticated to realize that the best question is never ‘why?’ The best question is ‘why not?’
I don’t make prints of this painting available for purchase because I refuse to profit from this kind of loss.
As I did last year, I offer to send a free card to anybody who would like a print. Send a message to my Facebook page with your name and address, and I will send you a small print to remember her by.
– – –
It doesn’t always have to be serious, now does it? It’s my birthday, and I’m feeling nostalgic.
Four years ago, I had the extreme pleasure of driving hours in early-morning darkness north from the Mexico border to Tucson International Airport to visit my sister in Boston. About an hour into the drive, going through Tombstone, my car punched through a thick fog, crawling at a twenty mile-per-hour pace. Before me, like an apparition, more than a dozen deer, wreathed in fog, trotted confidently down the main stretch of road through the town like a team of brewery horses.
Watching them clop at an even unbroken pace, I felt as though I had been teleported. Steam blew out of their nostrils. My car didn’t frighten them. It was a sight.
I met my first-born nephew when I finally arrived in Boston. After climbing an ungodly number of flights up from the red-line to Harvard Square, my brother-in-law was waiting to take me to their flat. Having lived in a small southwest town for several months, it was an exceptionally peculiar transition into the bright-light bustle of Boston. Overwhelming even, but not frightening. It’s amazing how quickly we adapt to our surroundings, how quickly everything else becomes alien.
The squealing sound of the rails, the parade of lights rushing through the streets, the mass of rigid shoulders marching about, fists buried in winter coats – I had almost forgotten what winter was like for the rest of the country. I still prefer a chilly Arizona mountain to drifts of snow.
My sister and I went out for lunch the day after my birthday, a lovely restaurant with the gayest of the gayest of all hosts leading us to our table; lisping, delicate-wristed stereotypes abounded. Every café and restaurant feels like paradise when you walk in from the forbidding cold. My sis was happy to have some time away from the apartment and the rigors of raising a new-born child, and I was happy to drink a beer and warm my hands in a corner pub with my sister – someone I’m confident still knows me better than anybody else, despite years of living thousands of miles away.
When we eventually emerged onto Harvard Square, the ‘Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year’ parade was winding it’s way through. I wasn’t aware of this tradition, but it’s an event put on by the Hasty Pudding Theatricals Society at Harvard. Beginning in 1951, the society bestows an award to performers deemed to have made a “lasting and impressive contribution to the world of entertainment.” The television series “Homeland” had just wrapped it’s first season and had attracted a significant amount of acclaim, and at the head of the procession was Claire Danes.
I only managed to nab a few little snapshots, but it was still a lot of fun to walk up to the snowy street, not expecting anything, only to have a brass band and a load of wagons dig through the thoroughfare with crowds of people all about. Excitement is contagious, and the streets were lined with people. My birthdays, ever since I left home, have always attracted tragedy – break-ups, job losses, frustrations with family, work, or school. But this was a good one. The last good one I can remember. The only good one I remember since I left home for college.
I’ll never forget it. I have the pictures to remind me.