24 January 2006

In appreciation of friends ... and of roads not taken.

The foregoing perfectly sums up what I'll be spending the next however long expressing in my own classic meanderin- er, sorry, that word's been taken by another blog ;-) errrr, expressing in my own classic takes-forever-to-get-to-the-friggin'-point way.

I get involved with a project, going double- and triple-time toward completion (see post below on TGTGMP3CP). When this happens, as with any major task, I get into a hyper-focused mode. I leave everything else -- be it e-mail, video trading, or, yes, blogs -- in abeyance until it's done.

It's one of many weird aspects of my personality, and I have to say I'm blessed to have a wife who completely understands this. Y'see, Seraphim is also a tunnel-vision'ed likes-to-concentrate-on-one-thing kind of person. Zero in on just one thing, do it, only it, and get it done thoroughly, completely, and - hopefully - right. Neither of us multitask particularly well.

And speaking of "takes-forever-to-get-to-the-friggin'-point".....

I've 'returned', so to speak, only to find that Nettiemac is in a period of mourning over the loss of her longtime friend Tee. She's made several beautiful and moving posts in tribute. There's a bit of guilt involved -- it's funny how our minds work; it's as if we search deep within ourselves to somehow assign blame and/or guilt to ourselves. We start thinking about the 'road not taken' (i.e. job interview over wedding). Boy, do I know that feeling. So many choices I could've made differently. Maybe my life, or those of the ones we love and care about, would've had less pain and sadness.

Then again, I probably wouldn't be where I am today, with who I have around me.

But anyhoo, today my heart is in upstate S.C. giving virtual comfort. Losing a good friend is traumatic, any way you slice it. In many ways, it's even worse than the death of a loved one.

I know what it's like to lose a good friend. Steve F. and I might not have had the tenure of friendship, as I have with Bolivar (we go back 20 years!) or as Nettiemac had with Tee. I met Steve in 1998, who visited my vintage radio website. He became interested in some recordings I had - and he pulled out some musty reels out of his mother's attic and dubbed 'em off for us.

From there a friendship was struck, and I inspired Steve to pursure the weird and spastic hobby of aircheck collecting. I tell you, I created a monster! He was a traveling sales rep, spending most of his time in motel rooms throughout the Southeast. It was always a pleasure for us to get together when Steve's business took him toward Savannah (or if we were visiting Atlanta, where he lived in a tiny - and I do mean tiny condo in Buckhead). Seraphim always found a way to cook him a meal when he visited ... probably only real home cooking Steve got to eat!

Trouble struck late in 2003, while in Jackson, Miss. He began feeling lightheaded, and had to rest there for a long spell. Seeing a doctor was a last-resort, as he carried almost no health insurance -- being self-employed, he could hardly afford it! (something he'd fret about in our correspondence) I went for awhile without hearing from him. A mutual friend of ours in the radio business gave me the news: Steve had two malignant brain tumors, and emergency surgery early in 2004 caused blindness, then a quick death. He had very little family ... it was an existence where his friends were his family. And he had many.

I miss him. I truly do. We shared a love for travel, for old radio, for nostalgia, and even for a truly quirky brand of politics. Our paths paralleled for less than six years, but what a six they were. But I envy Steve now -- he's in a good place, with access to every single minute of audio WAKE, WQXI or WAPE ever broadcast.

An "ape call" to ya, Steve!

*********

As you can tell, I'm in a very reflective frame of mind. I think about 1998. That was a turning point in my life. Now that I think about it, I met Nettiemac right at the same time I met Steve. It's funny - I stumbled upon Nettiemac's website, and Steve had stumbled upon mine. And earlier that year, as many of you know, I stumbled upon a girl named Seraphim, also online. We all know where THAT led. How lucky I am that all three encounters, made through the internet, led to "real life", brick-and-mortar friendships (one, of course, became a little more).

Another comrade-in-arms is a band director in Alabama, who shares a love of The Beatles, and of radio. We're both divorced fathers who landed on our feet in much happier second marriages. I look up to him as a beacon of music appreciation.

There are times we go without talking or corresponding. Sometimes that period lasts a month or longer. Best of all, none of us are what I'd call high-maintenance. If I don't hear from Bolivar for a week, I don't start getting all uptight, saying "Why haven't I heard from you? I thought you were my FRIEND!" ..... ya know????

We all have our own lives, in our own different cities and states. And none of us are the only friends the other has. We have other friends in different orbits, and they shouldn't be ignored, either (it still seems surreal that Bolivar and Nettiemac have struck up a good friendship -- two people rooted in competely different eras of my life!)

What I believe has cultivated is a comfort. A knowledge that we're there. If I'm needed by a friend, I do my damnest to be there five minutes ago. And I have the knowledge and - TRUST! - that mine would do the same. To some it might seem as if we all take each other for granted, but I disagree.

I hope what I've said makes sense. My friends can feel free to comment, elaborate, or completely ridicule what heartfelt words I've said. Bring it on. I can take it.

Curiously, of the active friends I have, all except two have been made since my divorce late in 1997..........

They're not many, when compared with so-called "popular" or, ummmm, "normal" folk. Lucky for me, I look at quality over quantity. As I've said more than once, if you've made SIX good, solid friends in your lifetime, you've done well -- what you have is a full set of pallbearers for your funeral! :-)

I'm very much among the blessed. Sure, taking those other roads might've spared me seven horrific years of Josiebelle, or at least allowed me to bail out quickly after our son was born. But would I have my son Tiger? Seraphim? Nettiemac? Steve? Birdman? J.T.? Would I have Savannah to call home, and a crazy, motley band of co-workers I love like family (yes, even him)?

Not a bad thing to remind myself every now and again.

To my friends, near and far, active and dormant .... you deserve a medal.

And Nettiemac, sleep well every night forevermore knowing that you touched Tee's life (she knows it, too, and always will). You've touched all our lives, too.

Cheers, and Ciao for Niao!

--Talmadge "I hope the day will be a lotta highway..." Gleck

1 comment:

nettiemac said...

Thank you, my friend. The prayers and good thoughts from you, Sera, and Bolivar have been felt all week long.

I am so glad that you stumbled onto my web site. I remain convinced that fate/God/the Universe/whatever sent you and Sera my way when I was at one of my lowest points -- because y'all have been such great high notes for me!

Much love,
N-mac