He kept at true good humour’s mark
The social flow of pleasure’s tide:
He never made a brow look dark,
Nor caused a tear, but when he died.
(Thomas Love Peacock.)
I don’t talk much about myself. I do and I don’t. I don’t go in to practical, actual facts, or any great specificity beyond memories distant enough not to hurt when shared. That is the opposite of what this thought experiment was supposed to be. When I thanked everyone for joining me in the last two years, it forced me to confront the fact that I purposely stopped explicitly talking about or analyzing myself at some point along the way, when the original intent of this journal was as an unflinching self-audit. I’m going to try to sort of get back to that from time to time, as well as I can stomach it. But this is not going to become some bullshit vanity plate — I’d hate that. I’m sorry, but you’re never going to know real names of my friends and family, nor see pictures of me slutting it up on here or even obligatory self-held head and shoulder shots with oh-so-quirky expressions. I know I’m kind of hokey with a sweet rack and that my name starts with E. You just have to take my word on it.
I bring up all this by way of explaining that I’m going to talk about myself for a sec, here. If you are not down, I am totally okay with that: skip down the page to the fun stuff. I’m not in the least bothered. This I’m writing for me, because I’m supposed to be doing that and not shying away again and again. No excuses.
So, some shit has gone down for me emotionally in the last few days. I keep the entries of the journal queued up a bit ahead of real time, most of the time, when I’m not being a lazy wretch, so this has happened in the interim of the regularly scheduled posts’ appearances. But the Liberated Negative Space below, in the previous entry, really jolted me, and galvanized me to discuss something immediate that’s been affecting my life: namely, the death of an old friend, with whom I used to be very close in school. I was told about it yesterday, around the early evening.
On the way to my eight-and-some-odd hours examination today, I took the road he was driving when the wreck which killed him happened. I purposely looked straight ahead and listened to my music, focused on the road: I didn’t want to look at the sides of the highway in case I saw pieces of his Mustang. I thought very clearly, I come this way far too often to let this have power over me. I could never drive if I thought of it every time I pass past these spots. This is the strategy I always employ with things that make me feel Ways: I staunchly use deliberately dodgy methods to keep from letting any inanimate thing like a song or stretch of highway get power over my feelings, because I’m not supposed to have those, right?
But on the way back home, maybe due to the security blanket of the divider in the center so that I could not see the other-bound direction of the road anymore, or perhaps due to the unwanted stress of the exam being off my shoulders, I thought that my earlier deliberate ignorance was actually cowardice, and, if there were ever a time for me to step out of my expressionless shellac vis-a-vis facing down hard feelings, this was the time. This is no thing to put off wading through, I told myself. This is different and deserves better treatment than what you usually give emotions.
Here is what happened: I have a friend named B, B-Dub he liked to jokingly be styled, a good friend of about twelve years, who died in a horrific car accident in the early hours of Friday morning. He was driving his 1998 Mustang along a nearby highway, when, while attempting to pass a slow semi-truck, he lost control of his car and hit the center divider of the road. Not wearing a seatbelt, he was thrown from his car and then run over by a tractor-trailer, after which he died almost instantly.
I know, right? Who the fuck does that actually happen to? It is gruesome as hell. That is action movie shit right there: that is not something that happens to someone who’s squeezed your hand during a pretend seance, or nursed your spins before taking you home. Just unbelievable, unimaginable even. The idea that my friend is dead is hard enough to wrap my mind around, let alone his last seconds of life.
Hang loose? Is that still a Thing?
I don’t really care to go in to safety and hazards in the details of the accident, etc, just now. Those are obvious, I think we can all agree. What I want to say is that, of all my old friends, and I am blessed to have more than I ever dreamt in my lonely childhood I would — which makes them all the more special to me — B was one who was a true comedian, a really blithe spirit. In late adolescence, it seems like some people are very, very funny and still have that dark or serious side off of which you feed while you pick things apart and explore your latent sarcasm and rage. Not B.
Heading out to a call for emergency.
B was all right with listening to you complain, but he was much more evolved than to do so himself, due to his, I came to realize as we grew close, well-chosen and informed, mature good nature. There was no naivete to it, and he never played the fool. He was just a joyful man, a sprite or leprechaun who burst with comic energy and always lifted your spirits. He genuinely loved to make others happy. That he would die in such a way has seemed particularly cruel to me. But why, I ask myself. It’s not a death that “fits” anyone. Doesn’t everyone remark on how vivacious and free-spirited the deceased was in their elegaic, closing remarks? Does any death suit anyone?
B-Dub is on the far right.
No. Christ, of course not. But we don’t get to live forever, at least not that I can tell as yet. People keep saying things to me like, “It just reminds you to live in the present, express your love to those who matter, live life to the fullest, because you never know,” etc., but it’s not very comforting. I guess what they really want to say is, “People die” (which I have already painfully learned) and “– your friend did. You can’t change it” (another thing I know) “So find a way to get okay with it.”
Why not get amped over snack treats?
And I’m going to try. I’m going to listen to my heart instead of suppressing it. I’m going to acknowledge what I’m feeling. What I’m feeling is exactly what everyone tells me, which I want to reject: ie, that my friend is dead, and that there is nothing that I change about it. And as I said, I’m trying to get okay with it.
And I have started by saying I’m pretty fucking well upset about it.
For some moments in life, there are no words.
(Willy Wonka. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Mel Stuart, 1971.)
That is all.