Monday, May 16, 2016

Goodbye, artist

Sometimes, I look online for people with whom I've lost touch. The motivation varies. Maybe some hilarious person from a high school English class crosses my mind, and I wonder where she is. Maybe I remember the name of someone from my childhood, and I wonder whatever happened to him or her. Maybe it's someone I want to avoid, and I'm just checking in to make sure we don't live anywhere near each other and I'm not visiting where they live any time soon. Rarely is it to reconnect with someone, and rarely do I reach out at all, because I think, at this point in our lives, given how easy I am to find online, anyone who wants me to find them, and wants to find me, can easily do both, so if we're not connected now, that's probably as it should be.

A "like" on the page of someone I was wondering-whatever-happened-to lead me to the Facebook account of a former co-worker I shared a house with for one year. I wouldn't call my housemate a friend - we rarely hung out, though we did throw quite a few parties, large and small, for our work colleagues, and our dogs loved each other. I lived in the house she rented - which was very much HER house - only one year, and my time there, and our relationship, ended badly - as did my job a few weeks before. Once I moved out, we had no contact. But I did learn some things in that year in her house, from her, that changed my life: how to make a really boring house quite interesting on even the tiniest budget (it was her idea to rig up an outdoor shower, with hot and cold running water, in a shoddy gazebo in the back yard - it was a rather brilliant idea), how much fun and worthwhile gardening is (yup - learned it from her), and the awesomeness of beautiful dishes. In fact, the dishes I have now look really similar to hers, because I really loved those dishes... She loved the movie Cool Hand Luke, and made me watch it for the first time since I was a kid on the day that I got royally insulted at work by someone that worked really hard to derail my career; she said it would make me feel better and, yeah, it really, really did.

I've never had any interest in reconnecting with her. And the feeling was probably mutual. But when I saw her "like" from two years ago on someone else's page, I was curious as to what she was up to, where she lived, etc. While our friendship was long over, I do remember her as an interesting person, though bitter about something in her past that she just couldn't seem to get over, and it colored much of her life, every day. I wished her only the best - a great job, and much happiness. So I clicked on her name.

She's gone. She died. And she lived right here in the Portland, Oregon area. We were living here at the same time for at least a little while, maybe a few years.

I feel profusely sad. Did she get over that bitterness and have a lovely, fun life at last? Did she make her home as cool as the other homes she's had? Did she stay active in theatre? Did she keep throwing great parties for co-workers? Did her beloved dog that she had when we lived together live a long, wonderful life? What happened to the dogs she had when she died? How close did we come to crossing paths here in the Pacific Northwest? It sounds like she was surrounded by people that loved her very much at the end, and I'm very, very happy for that. She deserved that.

We don't have any mutual friends anymore. The place we worked doesn't even exist anymore.

I feel sad. And weird. I'm so sad for her and those that loved her. Because while we weren't friends, she did matter in my life for an entire year, and some of her influence is right here in my house, right now. And she was a talented, interesting person. I'm so sorry she's gone.


  1. Aw, man. I've re-connected with a lot of folks via FB -- from high school (my best friend who I hadn't heard from in years!), to my Air Force days, UT classmates, sports writing buddies from back in the day. I like finding out "whatever happened to ... ? Some folks have found me too through FB. But, like your former house mate, it's not always pleasant. I had been in touch with the first ex-Mrs. Hurd off and on, very cordial, "hey, how's your life?" through the years since the 70s. Tracked her down for the first time in quite a while last month and found her obit. Sigh.

    1. I lost touch with my beloved mentor from the 1980s - she moved, I moved, I moved again and again, she wasn't in the Internet... I got back in touch with her a decade later, and then moved to Germany, and she still wasn't on the Internet... a decade letter, I went looking for her online - and found out she'd died. I cried for a week. I still cry about it.