• Tom

The People I Knew

There’s no reason in wasting time on describing 2020 as a year. We know what it was and there’s no need to belabor it. It was a year and let’s leave it at that. But let’s consider, too, the things that happened while we were waiting for the future.

January and February were beautiful months and I loved every minute of them. May nearly crushed me. November sucked. And while it’s easy to bang on the sadness, there have been intense moments of clarity this year — times when I realized who I was and what I wanted to fill my days with. If I knew in December 2019 what I know now, I’d live this year all over and do everything exactly the same — with one exception. Different story for a different time.

I can say definitively that 2020, and the people in it, changed my life. It woke me up and brought to life my miles-deep passion for creation, for expression. The totality of my artistic confidence can envelope the sun. Through the good and the bad, my first thought was I have to write this down. There are hundreds of pages in different nooks of the apartment, much of which will never see the light of day. What matters, ultimately, is that my first reaction to heartache or happiness is to write. I’ve read more, written more (often not here), and worked harder than I have in the last ten years. There is a corkboard on my wall and on it are no less than 23 goals and projects at any given time. I wake in the morning with a smirk and a plan. Like my father, I have a busting excitement for living and I descend on the scene with passion. I’m lucky.

OK, enough bragging.

The close of the year has been a reminder of what I’ve won and lost over the last 12 months, but in a bigger way, it’s awakened a much larger topic that’s driven me to introduce a modest theory of mine:

The people you’ve known never leave your life.

Over the years, I have lost friends to overdoses, freak accidents, suicides, seizures, car accidents, and myriad diseases. I’ve also lost friends who are still alive. Sometimes life takes you in different directions and you realize what’s for the best is often painful.

As a nearly-lifelong reader of Proust, I have long believed in the power of memory and its place within our waking selves. I do not believe in “Seasons of life.” I don’t believe in phases, either. You can’t possibly tell me that who and what you were at one moment in time is a cauterized piece of history, separate from your current state of being. No, I believe in here, now, and everything in it. With that said, sometimes that “Everything in it” involves the past. As an example, I sit here writing this entry and can see and hear and smell vividly the places and people of 2020. Many of them are still here, some aren’t, but the vestiges of those days come alive and they are as real as I am at this moment.

They never leave me.

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Bus terminal. Greying hair as thick as straw, You shave in the sink Before you fall black and down On the cold-smeared-shit tiling of the Greyhound bathroom. There is no life before Fent, she said. He