Tag Archives: frank

dancing about architecture

Two years ago, my best friend went to sleep and never woke up. His remains were not found for two days.

This week has been on my mind for ages, a huge obsidian block in the middle of my springtime, a chasm of sadness that I know I must navigate each year. I dread it and yet it feels important to me to do it – as if I had any choice. Of course, I would much rather have Frank here.

So I’ve been really apprehensive about this week’s arrival, counting down in my head the events leading up to his death. Today he was at Gregg’s. Today he talked to Maria. Today he is decomposing. It’s kind of horrifying and brutal to contemplate and I’ve worried about its ability to stop me in my tracks when what I most need to do is keep moving.

The week approached like a tidal wave, inexorable and crushingly destructive, and I braced myself for its impact. This year, maybe, I would keep my head above water.

And then, against all odds, a series of events stacked up that have caused this week to become what I can only describe as spectacular.

Several weeks ago I won tickets to see David Sedaris do a reading here in town. He’s one of my favorite authors and our budget just couldn’t justify the cost of the tickets, so I was moping. And then I won them on the radio, and off we went, and it was exactly as funny and interesting as I hoped it would be. We waited in line for an hour and a half to have our book signed afterward. We arrived at his table at 11pm, near the end of the signing, and the first thing David Sedaris did was welcome me to his golden okra chest. And then he laughed and wrote that in my book. And then he offered me some of his fried okra, and I’m actually kind of sorry I declined because I was freaking starving and that looked like some killer okra. And a love for fried okra is among the most Southern of my Southern qualities. Then, David Sedaris astutely observed that I’d dragged Seth along, but that he was very patient about the whole thing. He asked if we were married, Seth said, “not yet,” and David Sedaris whose whole name must always be used as far as I’m concerned asked why the heck we weren’t married yet. Then apologized for being awkward. Then asked again. And we stuttered out some excuses and he kind of leaned back and, even though David Sedaris doesn’t know us from anyone, he said something like, “You guys are good together and I can tell you’re going to make it.” It was completely awesome and we thanked him and told him our dirty nun joke, which he rewarded with two of his own dirty jokes, and we were on our merry way.

That alone would have made this a great week. But then Tuesday came, and you guys, Tuesday was seriously badass.

Old 97s were in town. I freaking love Old 97s, I’ve never seen them live, and the minute their new album dropped I told Seth that this meant they’d surely be touring and I felt Charlottesville was a likely stop and that WE WOULD BE ATTENDING NO MATTER WHAT. I mean seriously, they hadn’t even announced a tour yet and I already knew there’d be a Cville date. Because I’m magic. So Seth was like yes, whatever, and then the announcement came and I squealed louder than I did when Mom surprised us with New Kids on the Block tickets in 1990. EEEEEE OLD 97S!!!

Then we looked at our budget.

We were broke broke broke, broke as a joke. We kept putting off the tickets in the hopes that our next paycheck would have more wiggle room, but alas, car repairs and vet bills and optometrist visits just blew massive holes in our “discretionary” fund over and over again. And since I’d won tickets to David Sedaris, I wasn’t eligible to win again from our local radio station. So I moped.

On Monday, the morning host on our station of choice posted a thing on Facebook telling people to email him if they wanted a chance to meet Rhett Miller. And within 30 seconds I think I had written a novel-length plea and fired that bad boy off to Brad. A few hours later, he responded: we were in! We’d been put on the list for a private acoustic studio session with Rhett. I figured it’d be a good consolation prize for not getting to go to the concert.

So Tuesday afternoon rolled around and we headed to the station for the session. I hadn’t been to their studio before and expected we’d be with 20 or 30 people on folding chairs outside the booths where the sound engineer and the artist would be. Imagine my surprise when we and 6 of our newest friends were ushered into a very small studio…and Rhett Miller was a foot away from us.

He played three songs and bantered with the hosts, and it was completely awesome to be up close for the session, which you can listen to here. We hadn’t been told much about what would be allowed, so I didn’t think photos or signings or anything would be cool. But they were!

After the session, we got to take photos and a professional photographer was in taking photos too. Rhett signed CDs and such for us, and then he asked us if there were any songs we’d like to see on the setlist. HOLY CRAP! I asked him to play “Murder (or a Heart Attack),” one of my favorites. And he wrote it down along with the other suggestions. We left the studio basically floating through the air, and the minute we hit the parking lot, Seth and I were like, “okay, now we have to go to the show.”

We made a quick huddle and an agreement to skip groceries this week and get by on Ramen and PBJ, and I ran down and bought the tickets.

That night, we drove to the concert through a torrential thunderstorm, and when we arrived, we snagged a spot on the front row. Seriously. I told you this week was freaking awesome, didn’t I?

So we’re on the front row, along with some of our friends from the session. And the band comes out on stage and they are exactly as awesome as I thought they’d be, and Rhett Miller actually recognizes us from the stage and kind of waves and raises his eyebrows at us while he’s playing, and we’re in the front row at an Old 97s show and Rhett Miller just waved at me from the damn stage and I’m pretty sure I’m going to die of the awesomeness.

It was way better than that NKOTB show. My parents were right about them.

So hey, is this long enough yet? We went home, and we were happy and half-deaf and exhausted. And then yesterday I continued the awesomeness by giving a guest lecture on arts fundraising at the university.

Today is kind of what I think of as The Day, when it comes to Frank. Today, he is gone. And I miss him still, and I will always miss him. But I can’t help but notice the timing of this fantastic, surreal week I’ve been having. Frank had a novel in progress he called The Architecture of Coincidence. Despite a general lack of belief that he and I shared, this week has been different for some reason. And I’ve wondered if maybe, just maybe, there is an architect after all.

Dear Frank,

All year long I planned to write you a letter on or near the anniversary of your death. Sometimes I considered writing you letters throughout the year and saving them as email drafts, and I have very often done exactly that in my head. But as the important date(s) crept up on me, I’ve found myself having a terrible time getting started. And for a while I was not sure why.

Somehow, over the past year, I’ve trained myself not to talk about you. And it’s not because I don’t miss you or I’m totally over it or I’ve forgotten about you. It is none of those things. But still, it was something I subconsciously felt was necessary, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever adequately explain it to anyone, but somehow I know you would understand it, if you were here.

I feel kind of bad, though, because not talking about you so much means I haven’t done the job I should have done when it comes to helping support your people through this. Jeramy, Maria, Chris, Jared, Gregg, your sister, your parents…I planned to reach out to all of them frequently. I planned to help take care of them in your absence. But I found I couldn’t talk about you much, and it was strange, me at a loss for words, me having trouble expressing my emotions, and so I withdrew and I barely talked to anyone about how I felt. I am sorry I didn’t do this for you. I hope, if any of them reads this, that they sort of understand and aren’t too disappointed in me.

I’m doing okay, mostly. On balance, my life is pretty good these days. But I miss you terribly. I miss celebrating the good stuff with you. I miss talking through the hard stuff with you. I miss the last ten-plus years of knowing you were never more than a phone call away, through my late lonely nights, through my musing early mornings, through my triumphs and my challenges. I never had a close friend for as long as I had you. You, who didn’t need my backstory, who didn’t need to have things explained, who could tell how I was doing by a mere change in my breathing or the pitch of my voice. I miss your strong scarred hands and the graceful arches of your feet and your deep eyes and your mischievous grin and your stupid occasional beard. I miss you more than I ever thought it was possible to miss anyone.

But every day I get up and I go to work and I take care of my people and I try to be the person you insisted I have always been. I keep doing it and sometimes it hurts a little less.

Of all the songs on all the mixes you made for me over the years, the one that touched me the most was “Colorblind.” It could have been written about you, and kind of about me, and I know you know that and that’s why you made it the first track on that disc. But I don’t think I ever talked to you about it. I’m listening to it now, and I’m letting myself cry for you for the first time in a while. I wish you were here.

I’ll write you again next year. I love you forever.
xoxo,
lah

carry that weight

I knew I needed to write today, but I hadn’t written anything yet because I was having trouble deciding between two topics that seemed very different.

Today should have been Frank’s 39th birthday. It’s been a hard day, and I have been sad. With the exception of today, I haven’t cried much lately, but the weight of missing him seems to make my steps just a little slower, the effort of living my life just a little heavier. I guess over time I’ll get stronger, and the weight will be easier to carry. But some days it just feels unbearably heavy.

I was going to devote an entire post to Frank, but I was torn because some other things have been happening that are worth writing about, and I could not choose between them. In a weird way, I’m writing about both today.

This weekend I met Seth’s kids – Mira, who is 4, and Niomi, who is 12. They spent the entire weekend with us and so the four of us spent that time feeling out what I’ve been calling my practice family. We had a super time. We went to the playground, we blew bubbles, we ate too much junk food, we watched movies and TV, and we went roller skating. I used to live in roller skates, but it’s probably been 15 years or more since I skated. I still know how, but it was kind of frustrating that I’m in such lousy shape these days that skating wore me out quickly. Towing a flaily 4-year-old around the rink surely helped me tire out faster, but mostly it’s just that I’m lame and out of shape. It was okay, though, because we all had fun even if skating was a big fat fail.

It was nice, and strange at the same time. I realized that I know exactly how to do this mothering thing, that if I ever have kids of my own I’m going to be really good at it. I think that’s a combination of instinct, growing up the oldest of four girls, and watching my own mom’s phenomenal example over the years. Whatever it is, if I have the chance to bust it out full-time, I’m so on it. At the same time, I felt like an impostor the entire time, and was convinced that someone was going to bust me trying to be a fake mom to someone else’s kids and they’d drag me away to rot in fake mother prison.

There was something amazingly wonderful and right about what we were doing, about our little sunburns and our bubble-sticky hands, our sweaty roller-skate feet, our lazy Sunday morning with Spongebob and Lucky Charms. There was something joyful and giddy about giving a girl time to play laser tag with her dad, about hooking her up with a billion computer games and watching videos with her. There was something so peaceful and pure about dozing on the couch with a bath-fresh little girl sprawled on me, all arms and legs and sweet-smelling goodness. It was right. I was ready for it.

After we handed off the girls last night, Seth and I were walking back to my car in the cool fading light and we both realized that we felt lighter, almost more limber. Even though I ate junk food all weekend, even though I’ve been carrying this immense weight of sadness in my heart, I felt lighter last night. He thought it might be roller skating. I’m pretty sure it was the late spring sweetness of our time with his girls.

may 1 will be a brand new day

Let me tell you something about April. April is an absolutely pathetic crackwhore of a month smeared in dog poo and covered in parasites. If April were a person, I would kick April in the face repeatedly until every single one of its nasty, rotten teeth fell out, and then I’d pull April’s arms off and beat April to death with them. I hate April. April has most certainly been the worst month in what, prior to April, had been looking like a pretty terrific year, and at the rate we’re going, April 2009 may very well be a frontrunner in the contest for Worst Month of Lorie’s Life, Ever, No Matter What. April sucks and I hate it and I won’t miss its ugly-ass face one teeny tiny little bit. In case I haven’t been clear here, I fucking detest April.

With that said, there’s one major reason I’m alive and sane enough to witness April’s inevitable demise, and that reason is a 6’3″ software engineering, video game playing, insane philosophizing, adorable, wonderful, superboyfriendy package of awesomeness named Seth.

Even the most good-natured, generous, patient, supportive person on earth would probably struggle to be a consistently excellent friend to someone who’s had a month like I have had. I would not wish this month or the fallout of this month on anyone. But it has to be especially trying when you’re asked to drop everything and be there nearly constantly for your girlfriend of only a few months, who is mourning a man she loved before you and recovering from surgery on her dominant hand all at once. That’s a test no relationship should ever have to face, much less one in its relative infancy. All of a sudden, I found myself both physically and emotionally incapable of the independence I cherish, and to my great and pleasant surprise, Seth planted his feet and has been absolutely, unwaveringly here for me.

It wasn’t a surprise because of anything his behavior up till now had led me to believe. It was a surprise because I truly had no idea what to expect, and because I’m used to trying to drag myself through everything on my own. My family and friends have been great, too, but it’s been Seth who has literally been right by my side all month. He has helped me get dressed and make food and clean myself when I couldn’t do it on my own, and he’s helped me work through the first loss I’ve experienced of someone very close to me. He’s been incredibly patient and kind and has been able to anticipate everything I need and give it to me without giving me any indication that it’s a strain on him.

If you know me well, or have been reading for a while, you know I try to find lessons in all the crummy things that happen. This has been pretty damn crummy indeed, and I’m still figuring it out. But one tiny bright spot in this hellish month has been the increased closeness I’m feeling with Seth. I’m not sure we would have gotten so much closer this month if all had been smooth sailing. My hand is much better now, but my heart and soul are still in need of a lot of healing. Luckily for me, I know he’s not going anywhere.

i will do these things to remember you

  1. I will give every year to the educational fund for your niece.
  2. I will go out to a nice dinner on what would have been your 40th birthday. You can pay me back later.
  3. I will write my book, and get it published.
  4. I will begin giving blood again.
  5. I will do my very best to look at the world with the wonder you always loved in me.