Missing my old best friend

From left to right; Morgan, Aaron, Patrick, Christy, Oliver.

I didn’t want to write something about my friend, Aaron, but I couldn’t stop thinking about his death. I didn’t want my thoughts to be about my feelings, because I felt it would betray his voice and his power in doing so, but in the end writing about my feelings is all I can do.

It was a long time ago I knew him. We were kids embarking on a destiny full of sorrow and hope, pain and grand ambitions. We brought such sinful things into our bodies and minds. We bent our souls and bled our hearts. We were seventeen-year-old grownups acting like the wise leaders of tomorrow. We listened to Motorhead, Dead Kennedys, Lead Belly and Muddy Waters. We kayaked in the bay. We ate vegetarian pita pockets at Tilly Gort’s and devised ways to cheat at cards. We played 221B Baker Street like maniacs, cruised the Monterey Peninsula in search of decent cold cut sandwiches, rented Nintendo games, and watched Evil Dead 2 over and over again.

Now there are beer guts and children, debt and divorces, and many from our generation want nothing more than to blink and make it all go away. Maybe we were supposed to be wiser at this age, but we got lost as hell somewhere between 1992 and 2016.

Comic I devised featuring me and Aaron on earth-shaking adventures.

Happiness fades under the pummeling fist of real life and blistering adulthood, but it glows still in our souls, like the burning embers of a distant bonfire. And I haven’t been able to think about the loss of my old best friend. I go through my days pretending Wendy never called me, pretending I never read the Facebook post that his body was found. And I still haven’t read his obituary.

I’ve told people it was a long time ago that I hung out with him. I’ve been careful to avoid anything related to his death. I cannot bring myself to think of his children. I knew him when he was a child. I knew him when he thought he had the biggest muscles in our group. I knew him when we wore boxing gloves and punched each other in the face like a couple of dumbasses. I knew him when our afternoons were spent at Stonehenge near Lovers Point. We’d break open mussels and feed them to passing sea otters.

To me Air is still missing. He’s in Canada somewhere, working at a comic shop and talking about playing Spades to whoever will listen. Maybe he got a job on a merchant vessel and he’s rounding the bend into a Japanese port with a beard like Grizzly Adams. Maybe he’s taken an oath of silence on a remote mountain top just beyond human civilization. He’s somewhere doing just that. That’s what I want to think.

I used to imagine my mom was still alive like that. It made it easier to think of her hiding out in New York somewhere, working at a law office and presiding over a book club in the evenings, than to think of her as being nowhere. Reality took us for a ride and eventually we crashed.

From a Big Sur writing retreat Part VII

The road map of my life

I’m told it began in California and from my earliest memory that’s been the case. Happiness blossomed for me in California. I liked everything as a child and I quickly became a pop culture fanatic, devouring everything from the Six-Million-Dollar Man to standing in line for the 1989 premier of Batman. But it was short lived. The opinions of others easily swayed my own beliefs back then, particularly those that said life is cheaper, therefore better, in hot Arizona.

In my early 20s I decided to find out if that was true. It wasn’t. Not better by a long shot.

There were a ton of “ers” to be found, but none of them were particularly appealing. It’s hotter. It’s dustier. It’s colder in the winter. It’s buggier. And (from what I saw, and with the exception of Bookman’s, the Pererine Book Company, and Changing Hands) it’s dumber. California came with memories of my mom and how she stoked the fires of my inner nerd with Spider Man dolls and introduced me to the beauty of the rolling sea. I clung to those memories after she died, while I worked on a road crew in Phoenix, when I learned DOS programming, and when I thought I would succumb to heat exhaustion while surrounded by saguaro cactus. Twenty years later I left the only two good parts of the Grand Canyon State, my children, and returned to the place where I was born.

Today I walk over the memories I cherish, see the same sights every day that I saw through younger eyes, and wish my children were here with me. I came home again.

But I want to take them from theirs so my world will be complete.

Who doesn’t love Millennials?


O.M. God. These creatures of the digital tar pits are humanity’s saviors. They speak differently than the rest of us. They dress differently. They know life hacks. And they shoot Periscope videos of themselves doing it. Like a phoenix dressed in 80s fashion rising from a pile of entitled, home-schooled ashes, Millennials hold a fist full of dollars and aren’t afraid to spend them. Praise them, lavish them with a weird sense of high self-worth, for when combined – like Voltron or Megazord – they are the second coming.

Just knowing how to ‘scope is a feat. For the rest of us, it’s just another social media platform that we might someday explore when time and the non-digital world allows (IRL), but Millennials make the time for these important things. Trump memes won’t post themselves. Millennials make the time to change the business world to suit their personalities. First there were slackers, but Millennials; by God, they’ve turned the slacker life into a series of well-shared LinkedIn articles.

And Millennials share videos of interesting things Generation X-ers scroll right past. That video of the Volvo in the middle of a snowy field being mauled by that giant European backhoe? It’s viral, and obviously staged as so many are, thanks to them. When a video goes viral, as we all know, lots of people watch it and that means… it gets a lot of likes, which means a lot of people see it. And that translates into something. Trusted content? Not really. Something Boomlets are into? Who the hell are they? Do “likes” translate into advertising dollars per impressions? Sure. In a vague, click-bait kind of way. Is it all about money? Always. Even for Millennials, but they’re cool with it, so we should be too. They have money to burn. Everyone says so.

Baby Boomers love them. They’re the new Me Generation, so similar to their free-loving grandparents back in the day, but hip to tech and stuff (they have selfie sticks). And they aren’t afraid to talk about their needs (because we’ve told them they are special), their issues (because we’ve told them they are special), and their Go Fund Me accounts (because they think they’re special). The generations that have come before have put all their hopes for the future, not to mention the task of fixing the present planetary issues, on you. As Millennials are so fond of saying, even when not thanked first, you’re welcome.

The hope of the future hinges on what you post (say) next.