I used to be part of this poetry collective. I don’t do belonging very well, so this was kind of a big deal.
My membership pretty much consisted of showing up to the performances early, smiling nicely, and once I had to deliver the closing prayer at a meeting. Shy as I can be, I was not made for their stage of performance poems, comedy skits, and hijinks. Yet they counted me a member anyway–surely I could help set up chairs, write press releases, something.
Benefits of membership included having some of the guys walk me home after shows when a homeless stalker had me shook; the biggest benefit was being able to say I was a part of this really cool–like The Cool Kids cool–intelligent, funny, and attractive group of people.
And the host was the coolest of the cool kids. I decided this early on when I saw him freestyle. Then one night I, the new girl at the cool kids’ table, showed up for set up. He always smiled. So when he walked up to me in the rush to “set up” with that big smile on his face, I was prepared to take some orders: go get the water darlene or something like that. Instead he gave me a big brother hug and kissed me on the cheek like I was an old friend. I said thank you.
And I meant it. He made me feel in that instance like I belonged there. And like I said, I don’t do belonging very well so this was big. I promptly aspired to crush on him. But he was too good for an imaginary fling. Flings are fleeting objects, in-the-meantime muses. Instead I allowed myself to be quietly inspired by the cocktail of slick and charm; intelligence and homeboy-ness that I imagined of him probably more than I knew for sure since our interactions were generally brief and limited.
I found out that he passed away last week. I thought, sigh, damn. I had moved away from the city years ago and lost touch with the group. Since returning to the city, I have managed to miss every one of their shows for various reasons; usually the reason is the no-reason-at-all one.
So last night when my sigh damn attempt at a response to his transition failed me I was confused and frustrated. I tossed and turned all night calculating the loss to so many people I once considered friends and of course, his family.
The temptation with death is to deify the dead, and I wish this were so simple. There is always something the writer of such eulogies needs–after all the dead do not need your flowers now. I haven’t figured out that part yet and may never. But neither sigh damn nor attempts at holistic nor deified eulogies will ever really be enough in the face of this loss or of any. I’ve figured out that much.
Peaceful journey Dyore.