Traditionally, this annual post lists all the things I know are true. Each year it is edited and updated and tweaked. It is a live document that continues to evolve as I do.
These last few years have been different for everyone and most of us have been hyper-aware of our mortality and that of those around us. I am more reflective than usual, which is saying a lot. This ‘project’, the Waldina inspiration chronicle thingy I do here quite often has me being reflective, at times nostalgic, if not quite often simply gutted with nostalgia.
This year, I am more reflective less about where I am compared to where I think I should be and more about where I am compared to the friends that have died and will not have the experience of this age. Wrapping my head around that detail has taken a while to process. It’s just foreign to think that Erik, David, Jared, Adam, Michael, and Jose have their entire stories written. They will never be stuck in terrible traffic or a rainstorm, they will never experience another bad cup of coffee, any of the other trivial-in-comparison things I let bother me. A lot of what I do here is chronicle people and things that inspire me. I remember things that need remembering. So on my birthday, I will remember and share a short little memory of each of them.
Erik: My cousin. He was nine years older than me. When I was 19 and away from nearly everyone I knew, he introduced me to a ton of fascinating people, I started being invited to Dance Department faculty parties, nearly expected to attend. He taught how to climb the water tower and onto the concourse roof without getting caught. When the theater curtain caught on fire, he grabbed me and held my head back and flushed my eyes under a dressing room shower . He rescued me in several ways.
David: My boss. He was the first person I knew that had AIDS. He was the first person to personally tell me their status. He had a complicated life full of expectations and regrets. He taught me about being true to myself, antiques, and Somerset Maugham. Twenty-five years and countless moves, I still have his personal copy of Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge. He also worked on Governor Daniel J. Evans’ re-election campaign with Ted Bundy and socialized with him on the weekends right about the time women started to to disappear around Seattle.
Jared: My friend and coworker. He was kind and inquisitive and had an incredible memory. He would remember something you mentioned in conversations months ago and remind you of it. He once took a parody photo of himself based off of one of the shots from a photoshoot I did and used it as his profile pic. Like an inside joke to just me.
Adam: My friend and coworker. We worked together, worked out together, finished each other’s sentences, and had matching tattoos. We were on a bike ride once, going over the narrow one-lane bridge on Interlaken Blvd. and he was riding on the wrong side of the street without his hands on the handlebars heading directly at an oncoming car. I screamed “Do you have a death wish?” From then on, I shortened his nickname to D.W. I addressed all emails to him as “D.W.” until he told me he seroconverted. Then I stopped.
Michael: My friend. I have a set of vases that were his that have been in every house I’ve had for years. Every time I see them, I remember him. I have a set of chairs I bought at Goodwill that I have had forever that he helped me get them home in his orange Volkswagen Thing. He showed me the trails and pathways from Portage Bay to the Arboretum, a little ribbon of green in the city that is so calming and rejuvenating. On hot summer nights, I would ride my bike through there to Lake Washington and jump in the lake and ride home.
Jose: My friend. No one I have ever known greeted me with such enthusiastic excitement to see me. He always made me feel special. I went to a quinceanera for one of his family members and drank, danced, and drank. I fell out of a bouncy castle. Twice. We got a ride back to his mother’s house, lying on our backs in the bed of a truck looking up at the stars and fell asleep in a tree house.
Ron: My Dad. I think I understand more now, having the insight of adulthood and the distance of his death. I spent my childhood and adolescence thinking he didn’t love me and didn’t expect me to amount to much of anything. I spent most of that time wanting him to act like my definition of a father and feeling like it was my fault that he didn’t. Time has helped me understand him as an adult. I wish I could have had the time with him, both as adults.