Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Finding Chris

My dear friend Chris lies in a hospital bed in San Diego. Yellow as mustard, on dialysis, in and out of consciousness, he slowly dies. His liver and kidneys are shot, but somehow he hangs on. Friends have been called and are flying in to sit vigil by his bed. I considered going out but I don’t want to see my dear friend in such a state. Let my memories of him be happy ones, the good times, not this. I spoke to him the other day in one of his coherent modes and told him what I needed to say to him. So I leave the slate with no regrets, nothing left to be said.
As I sit and wait for the final news of his passing, I reach back into my memory, past all the dark years to the fun times. Where did my Chris go? These past few days I pore over pictures and memorabilia to find the Chris I knew and loved. So many years of drinking, of his alcoholism dominating conversations among friends, worrying about when this day would arrive, would he ever go into recovery. It’s hard to know when the bright years ended but I sift through the memories of 20+ years to help me remember.
It all started with a play called “Time: A Mobius Loop” that we were in together back at Point Loma High in 1981. 27 years ago, not many people can date friendship back that long. Longer than some marriages these days. Then there was “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum” which solidified our friendship. A whole gang was made from that show, a gang that now rallies around his death bed. Life lead us into different paths but that bond of friendship remained over the years. He was the bright part of coming to San Diego, organizing my social life while I was in town. We laughed, did crazy improv stuff, thought up ideas for movies, made movies, went dancing, held parades, did drag. Chris brought us all together and now he brings us together again, yet for other reasons.
Oh Chris, I’m heading down into my basement again to shuffle through the memories, to find you again, to remember you as you were and not as you have become.

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