first_shooting_star_by_pod_tanwenIt is unfathomable to me, this many years without him in my life, or in this world. He was just twenty years old. He was the most life-filled person I knew, then or now. He was a tremendous force of nature, always on the verge of being a natural disaster. He was all in.

He probably had some mild bipolar disorder going on. That whirling dervish personality was probably him being manic, and I didn’t have the life experience to recognize it. It was exhausting, contagious, wonder-inducing. You couldn’t help but be whirled by him and with him. And he certainly had a black dog thattasmanian….dogged him sometimes, and he kept that close and didn’t let too many people see it–and he never let anyone be hurt by it.

He would get into his car and drive, at speeds I didn’t realize the car could go. Drive down to Providence to see me, drive to Walden Pond or to Cape Ann to sit and contemplate things for a few hours, drive to New York or Detroit or somewhere, just to see some friend or another, to experience something, to get away. Always taking off, always coming back with some ridiculous story.

He would drive 40 minutes out of our way, just to avoid the $.50 toll, just on principle. He loved to find ways not to pay for things, like long distance telephone. We had a system in which he’d make a collect (or “person-to-person”–my kids don’t even know what that is) call to me, to Elizabeth Windsor from Lord Mountbatten.  I would refuse to accept the charges, and that would be his way of saying that he was leaving and heading down to see me, without having to pay for a call. He would get illegal long distance calling card numbers, that you’d have to enter into a pay phone to make a call, and he’d use them until they no longer worked–and then he’d get another number. He loved to stick it to The Man, and he loved to get free long distance.

More than even sticking it to The Man, he loved his friends. They were everything to him. His friends from high school, back in Michigan. His friends from college. His friends he met on some summer job, his friends who he met while tearing through their town on the way to somewhere.  I met him when we overlapped for fifteen minutes in a dorm of a high school friend I was visiting. He stayed in touch and he valued his tribe so much. He made everyone feel as if they were #1 in his life. He made me feel like I was above #1.

What would he think now, of the fact that long distance telephone is not even a thing. What would he think of our world, almost 27 years later? In that length of time, cell phones and skype and laptops and a whole world beyond his Apple Mac.  I’m thoroughly convinced that he would have been another Jobs or Gates or Zuckerberg.  So innovative, so unable to be contained, so willing to take risks and to work on something without any end in sight. He would have dropped out of Harvard–he was already on his way to doing so, taking year off to think. He was a shooting star.

He thought I was the most fabulous and dazzling creature on earth. The finest person he had ever seen or met. A pretty, smart girl who knew how to have fun. A girl with “one of the worst Madonna-Whore complexes” he had ever seen (please, as if he had seen so many). A girl who was always up for an adventure. A girl with a family not as effed up as his was, but just effed up enough that he wasn’t self-conscious about his. A shiksa goddess. A girl who liked interacting with his sister. A girl he cared about more than anything, ever. And when that wore off,  a great girl whom he loved, and a friend forever. He saw me as I was, but better.

His grey-blue eyes would have seen so much and read so much and done so much. He would have been bald by now. He would have lost his zealous “IG-nosticism” (don’t know, don’t care!) and returned to at least a loose Jewish faith. He would have maybe taken off and toured with a favorite band in those very early years. He would have been the biggest Simpsons fan. He would have reconciled with his father. He would have used that amazing brain to do Tourette’s research and better understand his sister’s disabilities. He would have traveled, and traveled. He would have been that mad, mad uncle to my kids. He would have brought incredible happiness to someone, maybe many someones. He would have written something amazing. He would have never lost the kindness in his soul, the kindness that was larger than any other aspect of his personality. He would have lamented his luck with women, even now. He would have been my rock, my brother, my friend.  I would have so loved being whirled by him.



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