Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Loose Ends

A couple of days ago, someone on my Facebook feed posted that it had been 35 years since Devo made their first appearance on Saturday Night Live, playing a great cover of the Rolling Stones song "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." I smiled, remembering that I had seen that performance; I was watching it with my high school best friend Cindy. We were floored by it, and were inspired. With the help of her mother, we made approximations of the Devo anti-radiation suits in time for Halloween a couple of weeks later.

This was made even happier that Cindy and I had reconnected after ten years. It turned out that she and her partner had moved. My friend has a fairly common name, so my efforts to track her down were hampered by that. It occurred to me to pair the search with the name of her life partner, which gave me success, though I didn't realize it. I had left them a message, then missed when they called me, thanks to my insane work schedule. A couple of months ago, she finally reached me. Happily, it turns out that she's moving back to the area where we grew up in (I never left) with her partner and their baby daughter. We all got together, going to the zoo. I was amused that she is so much the same; she still overschedules, still overplans and is still a delight as a person.

I am, obviously, a person who doesn't like loose ends. I am one who keeps friendships up over years, decades. My three closest friends are people I met over 30 years ago. I used to write a lot of letters. Now Facebook and cheap long distance helps make up for the fact that I don't have as much time and energy to write letters.

My unease with loose ends does have its downside. Namely, loose ends.

In my mid-twenties, I roomed with a guy I worked with who with whom I had become good friends with. Chris and I could probably not have been more opposite. I'm straight, he was gay. He grew up in the same neighborhood on the south side that the President lived in when he was still here in Chicago; I grew up on the north side. He was racially mixed-- his dad was black, mom white (I'm white). Yet, after that stuff, we were still close friends. We loved to talk politics. We both loved to get out and party (until he stopped drinking). We kept in touch for a long time, and got together often, even after we weren't rooming together. When my son was born, it became harder for me to keep in touch. I was busy raising a kid and working, and eventually school, when I went back to school to become a teacher.

Over the last 7 or 8 years, I've tried to contact him. His sister is married to a pretty well-known political writer, and I've messaged both him and his sister trying to get in touch with him. My fear is that the news is bad; he was treated for depression at times-- he'd been the victim of a gay-bashing when he was in college that was horrific. He was pistol-whipped; the gun went off and grazed the back of his head. He was almost certainly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. I fear for the worst, but keep hoping that like my searches for my friend Cindy, I'll get good news.

Another guy is Yomi Martin. I met him in the early nineties when he was dating a co-worker. He and her split up, but he was the one I stayed friends with. He was one of the most intelligent and interesting people I've had the pleasure to meet. He was only 21 or 22 when we met, but he and a couple of friends had already published an issue of a comic book. I always enjoyed talking to him about art, life, women, comic books, science fiction, and whatever else concerned us.

Searching for him is complicated by the fact that he shares a name with a popular clothing designer. I still search a few times a year, crossing his name with comic books and graphic novels, assuming that he's maintained an interest in that field. Still, I have fears with him too; Chicago is a dangerous place for a young African-American male. I choose to think that he just ended up in another geographic location and that I just haven't cracked the code for finding him.

I haven't given up on Chris and Yomi. At times, I considered giving up on Cindy, and another friend, Jamie, but finally connected with both of them. Because, you see, not only am I a person that doesn't like loose ends: I'm a person who values the people I've shared this life with and someone who's stubborn as hell.


Pat Tillett said...

Memories! I remember that particular Saturday night like it was yesterday. There was a group of us who always tried to gather together on Saturday night to watch SNL. Sometimes there was just a few of us and sometimes quite a few. Either way, we watched it through a cloud of smoke (wink wink). The rest of your post is very interesting. It's too bad that you can't connect with these people from your past. I wonder how life has gone for them.
Great post Johnny Yen...

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I've recently begun reconnecting with people from high school (facebook is good for something besides cat gifs after all) and it's quite amazing how the decades melt away during those conversations. I hope you find your old friends.

Coaster Punchman said...

I hope you find them too. Facebook has been magical for that sort of thing - doesn't always work, but it's fun when it does.