An old friend died last week; a massive heart attack at age forty for absolutely no clear reason. He and his wife had just decided to uproot and float with no real agenda: Australia as a first stop, but then, who knows, beyond not returning to their longtime island home. He died while writing a resignation email. In film school four of us studied together, worked together, shot films together, nearly always went out and played together – with our crazy schedules, there were few outside friends – and now we are just three. Friendships like that, even if you go ten years without seeing them, are forged in the fire you build while constructing who you are and are permanent, forever valuable, and irreplaceable. I shared the news with the other two of what was our four, and then I cried. My usual dark mood went darker, not so much with black thoughts but with an extra fog of confusion. Is that it? Can that really be all of it?

An hour later I sat on the deck steps watching my four year old sway gently on her swingset, moving without moving. She looked up at me and asked, “Daddy, do you have a daddy?” I answered without lying – lies told to young children should be used sparingly, and mostly to save all the cookies for yourself – and also answered her follow-up: yes, I had him when I was a child. This satisfied her, and she moved on to the next of her daily four million unrelated questions.

Later I stood in the desert under a cloudless summer midnight, watching meteors and failing to photograph them. A restless wind pushed at me, clearing the fog but leaving the empty dark and I thought yes, this is really all of it. The crying has long stopped but my eyes won’t stop watering – I don’t know if it’s from all this or if I’m getting sick – and the tears for some reason sting as though they’re leaving a scar; they burn as though they’re forging something of their own.


This was published on 14 Aug 2007.
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