Saturday, March 24, 2018

In Memory of William Dale (1980-2018)

The last texts were lamenting on the awfulness of St. Patrick's Day in NYC. You wanted me to see "Love, Simon" with you but I already committed to meeting a friend for a farewell to NYC party. I said I could see the movie the following day, but you were busy.

Sunday came and went, but you were already gone.

I had tickets for shows on Tuesday but you were already gone.

On Wednesday another friend had already called dibs for an event, and I guess your funeral arrangements were being made.

Thursday I was finishing up boxing class and hadn't heard from you in a week. I thought that was strange. As strange as when you said you were excited to see "The Amateurs," and completely ghosted on the comp tixs. You texted a few hours later saying your phone had gone missing at a party the night before. My bullshit meter was going off, but I said 'it's all right.' I felt sad at the discrepancy between what I felt and what I was being told. Maybe you were already gone? You said you wanted to make it up to me. I said that wasn't necessary but you insisted: drinks? This made me feel more sad because my bullshit meter was screaming at this point. There was never going to be drinks, but you can't say this to someone trying to apologize, right? A few hours later you wanted to know if you could reschedule makeup drinks. You had something to deal with suddenly. I sighed. Maybe you were already gone.

On Thursday morning I figured you were busy. We are busy busy NYCers. I sent you a joke. No response. I went on about my day. As I was heading into Edward Albee's "Zoo Story" I got a text from an unlisted phone number telling me the news. I looked at the text and said to a friend 'this is a joke, right?' I was standing at the entrance to the theatre, and stepped aside to let others passed. My friend asked if I wanted to go home, but you were already gone. We went into the theatre. I watched the play through a veil.

It's strange that you were so inconsistent for small things and during good weather, but were so remarkably reliable during awful days and terrible weather. Maybe difficult times brought out the best in you. These difficult times have brought out the best in your wide swath of friends and colleagues.

Today there was a moving memorial at Hetrick Martin. The room was packed with artists and people from all walks of life. We were saying goodbye to our ‘bad weather’ friend from Florida. The last time we got together was on the night of a Nor’easter. The snow was coming in sideways and felt like sharp needles on my face. It was the kind of weather that was made for cancelling or feigning excuses about having stuff to do at home. Yet we both trudged to the river to watch a bunch of spandex acrobats throw themselves around in a Williamsburg warehouse. A few weeks earlier we were in Greenpoint checking out butoh dance in the midst of a freezing torrential downpour. In our last conversation, we were squinting our eyes against icy rain slapping us in the face after the acrobat show. I suggested LA. Everyone could use a break from the winter. You agreed but never went. We continued walking. May everyone have a bad weather friend like Will to walk through the cold nights and storms.

Now I look at the emails I have to answer, outlines to prepare, work to be done, the incessant churn. People tugging on the sleeve for attention, come to this reading, do this, go to this party, see this thing. I guess I should continue because you're already gone.

I deal with grief in different ways. I remember rushing back to Miami to attend a relative's funeral, helping out, actually speaking at the homegoing, and feel balanced. After flying back from the funeral, I was on the LaGuardia Airport moving walkway when it hit me. It was a sudden sense memory of my uncle that came from a gesture someone made, or a scent in the air, or a song. I doubled over like I had been shot, smothering a noise in my throat as the moving walkway propelled me forward. Then I looked around to make sure no one had seen me, and hopped on to an AirTran.

I feel like I am on a moving walkway. I appear to be going on with my life, but the sidewalks are hurling me toward the next thing. And I guess I'll let it right now. You're already gone.

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