Clareified

Where does the good go

My weekend of insane thinking (AND TAYLOR TUESDAY)

A few days before the new year, @Batesline tweeted “@jimmiebjr There’s an apt quote from @realdawnsummers : “I was there when we became friends, where was I when we became strangers?”

I smiled because, well, I’m shamelessly vain and love being quoted! Coupled with the fact that line was from a post I published in 2004, so I was quoted AND remembered! Double bonus points! Well, of course, that post was written about “Don”. (I’ve decided I don’t want this post gooleable.)

As I thought about what I wanted to say, I kept going further and further back, “oh wait, I forgot…no, actually, what happened was…okay, well, first…” Somehow when I was at the part where I was thirteen walking down the stairs from… I knew I had completely lost my way with this.

I came across the news of his death in the most random way. I was finally clearing out the junk from my guest bedroom and there was a handwritten card with the return address of a teacher from my high school. I knew she had been diagnosed with skin cancer some years back and I feared it was an invitation to a memorial or something for her. I knew the mail was years old, so I was like I should just toss it.

Bah.

I tore it open, and just like in those movies where war widows get a telegram from the army, as I read the words “I just heard the news about Don. I’m so sorry, I know how close you two were,” the note fell from my hands back onto the pile of unopened mail.

I grabbed my laptop and opened a browser to google. I was stunned, but not sad at all. I kept cleaning, but that didn’t seem right. I posted about it, in those starkest terms because I felt I needed to see it written out, in print. He was not only dead, BUT TWO YEARS DEAD.

From what I gathered, the cancer he had as a baby, returned. He briefly went into remission in ’08, but a more aggressive form returned in ’09. They had to remove a lung, but he thought he would beat it again. He didn’t. (Actually, I found a post written by this girl Jenny, who said that he was her best friend from childhood. I SO SIDEEYED the HELL outta of that! DUDE! I ain’t never heard of you “JEN-KNEE”, if that IS YOUR REAL NAME! HMPH!) I poured through all the stuff I could find about his death online and I was still pretty okay.

Frankly, I had done all the sad, weepy mourning for this relationship back in 2003. I read in our high school newsletter that he had been honored at Homecoming and I e-mailed him asking why he didn’t tell me so I could have gone? And he replied something along the lines of “I thought you’d be mad that it wasn’t you.” And I was all “OF COURSE, I’M MAD IT WASN’T ME! But right below that, I’m happy it was you.” To that, he just sent back a smiley face: this one: : ) He thought that one was cuter than : – ) cause the latter looked like a potato. #truestory. Then, I sent him a happy new year’s email and it bounced back to me.

That was that.

We were done and I didn’t care anymore. As I told @Vinnay, the day before I had thrown out a bunch of postcards and letters from him because “he was dead to me… I just didn’t know he was dead to EVERYBODY! Waa!!”

Which is totally ridiculous, isn’t it? Father Robert saw me sorta sobbing through mass and he was all “what’s wrong?” And I ran through my possible “uhh, this guy I used to know died. Um…two years ago” answer and settled on “nothing, allergies.”

Then I spent the day trying to think of awesome Don stories and looking at pictures of us from friendster.

Seconds before this picture was taking at our high school graduation party someone said "pretend it's a wedding cake."

(YES, talk about a way back machine!)

I hadn’t really thought about him in so long, that it was hard to remember him at first, but random things started popping in my head: when I got my first car, when I graduated from law school, I told him I’d come pick him up (he was the first of my friends in high school to get a car and would drive me EVERYWHERE, so I figured it’d be a funny turn about for him to be the passenger.) About ten minutes after we were on the highway, he kind of clears his throat and says “so, you know what I find helpful? Before switching lanes, just kinda glance through the back window here (he taps on the window on the backseat passenger side) to make sure you’re not running a car off the road.” I laughed so hard.

Or in junior year when I decided glasses would make me look smart, so I bought these clear glass ones and I had braided my hair over the summer, so I called him the night before the first day of school and was like “dude, I look totally different now, you might not recognize me, so just giving you the heads up that I wear glasses and braided my hair.” So the next day, I see him and he doesn’t say anything and I’m all “DUDE! HELLO!” And he goes “Dawn? OH MY GOD! IS THAT YOU??” Jackass.

And that lead to one of the funniest things I remembered, I used to call him at like 2 in the morning from Yale because I didn’t want to “disturb his fancy Princeton life.” And we’d talk till like 6 in the morning — on one of these marathon calls where I was probably bitching about my crazy freshman year roommates, he goes “You are SO MELODRAMATIC!” Without hesitation OR a shred of self awareness or irony I respond “WHAT? HOW DARE YOU?!” and hang up. He calls me back, I pick up and hang up. He calls me back again and I answer “you take that back.” He goes “Fine. You’re not melodramatic. At all.” #RRUUUDDDEEE

I remembered going to his Princeton graduation and his mom feeding me the most delicious strawberries I’d ever eaten! Like maybe the first strawberries I’d ever eaten EVER! And I kept dipping them in the powdered sugar, so the lower half of my face was practically white… actually, that memory is mortifying.

Then those memories gave way to the less happy ones of broken promises and unreturned calls. Days of silence between us turning into weeks turning into months turning into years turning into forever.

And so I’ve spent the last few days alternating between an inconsolable teenage me, who can’t believe her other half is gone and the petulant twenty something me who pointedly insists she doesn’t care.

In the end, the thirty-something me is grateful that for those turbulent high school years and the scary first-time-away-from-home college years, though I was often alone, I was never lonely. I had a partner in crime, a literal and figurative wheel man. Every club I started, I was President; he was Vice President. Even in college, if I joined a club at Yale, he had to join the same one at Princeton, so we’d “have stuff to talk about!” I called him by his last name all the time, so everyone in school did too — but I didn’t like that, so I made up a nickname for him one day.
“Why are you calling me that?”
“So that years from now, after we’ve grown up and I see you on the street, I can call you that and you’ll know it’s me!”
“Huh. Well, then you can stop calling me that, I’ll know.”
I never did see him on the street all grown up…but I think he was probably right. He would have known.
Heck, he was probably right about the melodramatic thing too.

1975-2010

R.I.P

9 Responses to “My weekend of insane thinking (AND TAYLOR TUESDAY)”

  1. Pearatty Says:

    Yeah, he was totally right about the melodramatic thing. I’m sorry you lost him.

  2. Pdov Says:

    Crap. Well this sucks on lots of levels.

  3. Jessica Scott Says:

    I love you. I have to let you know. From this article alone.. I know a few things. For one, I love you already. You are a beautiful person. And you are writing is like water to the dehydrated. Love, Jessica

  4. VinNay Says:

    Since we have already talked about this for the past few days, the only thing I have to add is this – Who in the H-E-double hockey sticks dressed you for your HS graduation party?

  5. Dawn Summers Says:

    @vinnay I am also making note of your subtle “stop texting me.” #hmph #rude

  6. Dawn Says:

    Someone please advise pearatty and vinnay that I am no longer speaking to them. Jessica and pdov, thank you.

  7. Pearatty Says:

    You’ll get over it. :)

  8. Dawn Summers Says:

    NEVER!

  9. Pearatty Says:

    I mean, you’ll get over my melodramatic comment, not your friend. Geez, didn’t mean to sound so callous there.

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