Sunday, June 29, 2008
a thimbleful for you, marsdale. i havent written at all since leaving seattle for the midwest a month ago. not even in my journal. too busy seeing people and dealing with home and being in not-my-bed and now trying to adjust to seattle life once again. but for marcel, i can spend time finding the words. for you, dear boy.
marcel fremont, a gentleman and a scholar, died on wednesday night in a motorcycle accident on his way to seattle. he was coming to stay with polly and maybe me if i could swing it, cuz i was really excited to get to spend time with him for the first time in years. i felt lucky he was visiting cuz somehow we didnt meet up in the midwest in june. he was supposed to get here on friday.
but, thursday morning early, my phone rings. i assume its someone in chicago forgetting the time difference (my body was very aware of it that day, still jet-lagged and worn out from traveling) so i dont answer. but the voicemail was polly sounding upset, just asking me to call back. and as i drift back to sleep, vowing to call her in just one more hour, i wonder what shes calling for. my mind refuses to believe there is anything wrong with chris or unity and jumps straight to 'something went wrong with marcel on the road.' but the oblivion of sleep blots everything out until pollys second call, which i rouse for and answer. oh, god. 'do you want me to come over?' 'would you? chris has to go to work.' so i walk over and we curl up on the couch and i cant hold the idea of him no longer in the world in my head. and we talk and polly cries and she shows me pictures and tells me stories and we laugh and we have his smile and his voice in our heads and at some point when unity is crawling in and out of our laps saying 'hi!' the wind blows the door open. elijah. harvey. marcel. a day early and incorporeal. i pause before closing it, making sure he has entered and knows hes welcome.
he was amazing, and invincible (we all thought) and wise and wonderful, and we all looked up to him, even those of us who were older than him. we found ourselves talking in mythic ways about him even when he was in our midst, or when we were wishing he was at the party instead of a few hours south. he was not quite of this time, but i dont think i mean he was anachronistic in any way, i think i mean he was not quite perfectly fixed in this dimension. he was always a little bit beyond. and we all felt it. and we all worked to be good enough for it. for his way of interacting with people was to assume the best parts of them to be the most prominent and so we worked to bring them to the fore. for him. and in the process, for ourselves and others. but mostly because we wanted him to think well of us. i have watched every one of the ice factory/oak park boys avow the tenets of fremontism. boys became better men for having known him, women found him to be the best man they knew. heard spector was going to have him as his best man at his wedding this fall. marcel was everyones best man. and he made us better people by example.
and i know this sounds like an idealizing eulogy, but its not. this is just fact. plain fact that we all have known for years.
and the thing about marcel not being fixed in time goes hand in hand with him not really being fastened in place. he was a wanderer, he traveled and drifted, a self-professed highwayman. he was in the process of traveling around the country by motorcycle to visit all of his friends before settling down to a phd in st. louis this fall. this was no surprise to anyone. and in some ways its most fitting that he would die on the road to a friends house, out in the middle of absolutely nowhere, by himself at night. and yet, its so unfair. or maybe its unfair to think that we had any claim to him to begin with. tho he was present with people while sharing the same space, there was something about it that felt like we had him on loan from his other universe of self. and he knew that he was always wanted here in time and place with us, but we also knew he was not that easily held on to. and so we let him go. we have let him go from our presence before, but never like this.
all throughout knowing him, whenever i would think of marcel, at random times with random images of him flitting thru my brain, i could never really stick him to the present. i can sometimes get past images, snapshots of him in the hallways of oprf, impressions of his form at a park near the high school, the framed picture on pollys entrance hall table, but a lot of times i get future ones. what he will look like in ten years, what he would be like as an old man, or as a father, how that beard would be shot thru with grey streaks. or even just how travel-worn and weary he would be arriving at pollys on friday after days on the northwestern roads, yet how content and joyful. that quiet, almost still joy deep in his eyes, a gratefulness at being alive. he poured that gratitude onto every one of us. and we are all immensely grateful to have received it.
we can talk about how tragic and unfair it is to have lost such a life-force so early, we can speak of the illusion of longevity as if it were a right, we can say good people should not be lost before they have been able to do their potential good in the world, or we could just be grateful. grateful to have known him as long as we did. as much or as little as each of us was touched by him, it was enough to change our lives forever.
so maybe he wasnt meant to stay long in this world which he never seemed to sit easily in. or maybe it was that he sat too easily within it and it made us feel not quite real enough, that he was more there than any of us. but he was meant to have been there for each and every one of us and we wont ever forget how he was. barefoot, sturdily grounded, leaping for the sky.