Sunday, May 10, 2015
There has to be a word for when someone you once knew and loved dies. I don't know if it's nostalgia or emotion or empathy, but it's weird, I think I hate it. I've done so much to put certain times in my life out of my head and I think I hate remembering everything about Ben. But realizing someone who, at one point in your life was one of your best friends, who was one of your boyfriends is no longer on this Earth is probably one of the strangest feelings I've ever felt. Especially when your life is so much different than what it used to be at one point.
I remember how heavy his head was. Even when we would all be in the car and he would put his head on my shoulder I remember how heavy it was.
I remember how calloused his fingers were from playing the guitar.
I remember how pejorative he became the moment he felt uncomfortable or threatened.
I remember how much we competed with each other with our knowledge about music and how when I acted like I knew what I was talking about he just nodded and said I was right, even though I wasn't.
I remember how much he loved Kerouac and how when I read On The Road I thought it was a lost gospel and swore that I would live my life as a beat from here on out.
I remember how that only lasted about a week.
I remember how I skipped going to Church because Ben and I would talk about how being spiritual is enough and I thought that being around my friends was kind of like going to church because we were living and learning in the presence of others.
I remember how guilty I felt for skipping church and never doing it again.
I remember how good he was at finding music.
I remember how much he loved attention.
I remember how much he danced.
How much he sang.
I remember how much we all danced when we were together. Atlanta was a weird time in my life but it was also one of the most exciting, most impressionable and learning years of my life. We all fell head first into this unbreakable friendship that lasted a year or so. I've never laughed so hard in my entire life. I've never danced so hard so late at night in my life. I've never taken so many pictures and been in so many pictures in my entire life. We were so young. We were so, so young. We were reckless. We were everything you read about in books about kids going through phases and living life fast and loud and not caring about anything that we were taught to believe.
I've been able to block this time out of my head for a while now. Times like this only last so long until something becomes spoiled and infects everything it touches. The decline of the Atlanta group was probably one of the saddest things that's ever happened to me, now that I think back on it. We all loved everyone so much and then everything just kind of fell apart and I moved back to New York and people moved elsewhere and went different places in life and that's what life is, that's what happens and it's ok.
I remember how you could stick Ben in a room with 10 strangers and within three minutes he would know everything about them and already have plans to meet up with them later.
I remember how he never slept because he never wanted to miss anything.
Ben never wanted to miss anything. He wanted to love everyone. He wanted to be loved by everyone, and he was. He could get the angriest person in the entire world to laugh within seconds. I feel sad that I was young when I knew him and that everything ended unpleasantly. I feel sad that things turned out the way they did. But as I've said before; such is life. People grow up, they move and they move on. I wish I was more patient with him, and that I didn't throw the flower out the window of the cab in Chicago that he gave me when I saw him after five years. I wish I read more into his cryptic email that he sent me a couple of months ago. But I had tried to help for so long and nothing really seemed to do anything, or was it that he made it seem like it had done everything and everything was alright? I don't know. I don't really know what I'm feeling except just sad. Never in my life have I ever met someone so full of potential. So talented at writing. So talented at singing. So talented at just being a person.
I'm in pain for his best friends. I'm in pain for his family. I'm in pain for everyone who knew and was honestly touched by Ben's presence. If you met him, you remembered him.
I hope he's happy now. I hope he finally found was he was searching for the past seven years of his life. I hope he's somewhere playing guitar with Jeff Buckley and crooning about everything he ever went through. I hope he meets Jack Kerouac and realizes he's smarter than Jack ever hoped to be. I hope he knows that he's always in our minds and our hearts and our prayers.
Rest easy, Benjamin. You're so truly loved by so, so many.
I know you would have loved Lorrie Moore, so here's one of my favorite lines from her:
please god, I mean God, don't let me go like this but let me stay right in this garden next to the plastic flamingos and let me croon the blues till I am crazy with them."