Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Some Thoughts I Have About Raymond
Raymond and I have conducted our relationship in secret for almost fifteen years. We weren’t hiding it, we weren’t up to anything-in fact there was a very marked lack of any sexual attraction between us though he has given me many compliments on my rack over the years. Thanks, Ray, by the way. We just had very different lives, different social circles, different schedules.
So when I found out he had died it was about 24 hours later and only because someone posted something about it on Facebook. FACEBOOK! I was in my office and I got up, walking past all these computer monitors and silent typists wearing headphones and stumbled out onto the street. My body shook. I didn’t know who to call. Our lives are like a venn diagram and no one else seemed to be in that overlapping area, that little place where our friendship existed. Just like that all traces of it were gone. I barely have even any photos of us together.
I wanted to call him and ask if it was true.
When people die everyone says the same things. Unlike our friendship my grief isn’t private-it’s shared by everyone who knew him, loved him. It’s shared by everyone in the world really, because time keeps marching on and keeps dragging us from each other and we try to forget during the in between times. We probably have to or every moment would be this agony of feeling, just constantly screaming at the top of our lungs, “I love you, I love you, I love you.” Because in this moment, knowing that he is gone, I wonder why I ever said anything else.
My last word to Raymond was on Gchat. We have been IMing each other pretty much every single day since it was invented. Maybe that’s why it was always so easy to tell things to Raymond that I could never tell anyone else- about my chronic depression, about my family, about my low self-esteem. Most people don’t want to hear about those things because they think it makes you tainted in some way, like a sick animal that should just slink off somewhere shady to die. Raymond never made me feel like any of my thoughts or feelings were unsafe to share. He never made me feel like the things I hoped for were stupid. He was, no matter how much we butted heads, always kind which is not something many people (definitely not me) manage to be. And my last word to him on Gchat was, “whatever.” I was annoyed with some disagreement we were having. I wasn’t angry or anything just being dismissive. On Sunday I called him to see if he wanted to go get a drink and he didn’t answer. I can never take back that last irritated conversation. So instead I want to remember the last time we were together which was at his house a few weeks ago.
It was rainy as shit. I went to his house and we drank beer, ate pizza and watched stand up. We smoked a cigar on the stoop and made a pact that we would do a stand up show together by November. We looked out at the rain and said we should write a song but by the time we got upstairs we were too lazy and drunk. We sat around his room while he played music and talked about people we love, think we might love, think we might get laid by. We said good bye and I hugged him and said let’s do this more. He agreed. Memory is strange because now, wanting it so desperately to be true, I think as I left I said I love you. Did I? Had I ever? It was true and he must have known it but even though I can picture myself saying it and I can picture him bashfully mumbling, “Love you too, Aimee, now get out,” or something like that...I don’t know if it really happened.
I doubt very much that I was anywhere in the top best friends of Raymond’s life-he had so many. But I believe our friendship was one of the most special in my life, one of the most unique and long lasting. A huge part of my life has been extinguished and besides I Love You I’d like to tell Raymond that. We don’t always know the ways we touch people, what compartment inside their psyche or heart we fill. I can walk into so many rooms in my mind but now one of the biggest ones is empty. If there are people in your life who shape you, understand you, indulge you, argue with you, make up afterwards with you, get crazy on the dance floor with you why keep it a secret? I wish it hadn’t been. I didn’t even know it was until I knew he was dead.
On my iTunes there is a bunch of music Ray picked out and a few that he wrote, a couple we wrote together. The ones I was involved with weren’t as good, but he always helped me anyway. One in particular popped up a few months ago and I hadn’t listened to it in awhile and it made me so happy to hear it. It reminded me I had this friend who wrote me this silly song just because I asked him to and a tear came to my eye even then. It was for a video I made about an evil villainess called the Pie Socialite who pies her enemies and Raymond wrote it from the perspective of her boyfriend before she goes evil, when she’s just plain old Holly his girl. He probably wrote it in like two minutes but it’s so catchy and funny and sweet. I’m listening to it now as I write this and trying to remember all the moments we’re supposed to remember in times like this- when I flashed him on stage during his first show with Ohnomoon, watching him walk out my door forgetting he was still wearing a pair of bunny ears over his hat, him running down the hall away from me in our high school after teasing me, tasting honey together at a harvest festival, smoking pink cigarettes on my stoop, dragging his drunk ass into a bed while he clutched a slice of pizza, him chastising a driver who almost doored me in Williamsburg as he biked cavalierly by, roasting together on Brighton beach, the sound of him calling me Red which is a nickname no one else living remembers...
There is nothing in this life worth as much as the capacity to be loved and to love others. I love Raymond Blanco. I believe the world and my life is a lesser place for not having him in it. There is no solace.