Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Good-bye, Brad. I'm So Sorry.

A high-school friend sent me a message on facebook this afternoon to let me know Brad Graham had died. Now I'm wracking my brain trying to remember when I first met Brad.

I know it was in P.E.--we were both about equally into sports. I keep thinking that would make it my junior year and his freshman year, but that doesn't seem right. I think my high-school yearbooks are at school (or lost forever due to a fire I can't get enough of remembering), and I could check there--but it really seems like we were friends far longer than that.

Not only were we equally into sports (which is to say very little), but we were equally into all things of the geek: science fiction (with a lot of Doctor Who and Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy emphasis, but not all), books, computers, technology in general...

Not long after first meeting him, I started going over to hang out with him at his home--a total lack of most things geeky was just one of many reasons he never hung out at my home. We edited together our own radio show intro tapes (I bet I could find it in my box of tapes, if I had it in me to go look) with snips and clips of various recordings (including THHGTTG on album). We wrote scripts. Somewhere on a very old--probably no longer readable--giant floppy disk (okay, not GIANT, but huge enough) I have a copy of a movie project we put together when we were in the gifted program together (before I got kicked out for my lack of motivation in the regular classroom, that is). We thought up computer programs and did our best to make them a a reality using the computers available to us at the time.

Brad was the one who organized my friends into buying me my first computer mouse for my birthday my senior year.

We spoke the same geeky language. When I "borrowed" a piece of work to use as my own, he totally called me out on it, but not unkindly so. We worked on the yearbook together. We went to sci-fi conventions together--or went to at least one together. We were supposed to go to one my senior year, but I ended up backing out.

It was February of my senior year. I remember that much. I used to have the dates burned in my memory--and my brain can picture a calendar of awful events from February, 1985 that I once actually printed out. (Yes, people, I have always needed to organize things to try to make sense of them--even if the organization makes no sense to others).

I threw away what probably could have been one of the best friendships of my life. Maybe it would have tanked either way. Maybe we would have grown apart as I've grown apart from most of my other friends from those days, only to be brought back together with the advent of facebook--at which point one or both of us would be making that choice of "to friend or not to friend".

But who knows what would have happened. The point is I threw away a friendship. Worse, I'm too much of a coward to even delve into the details. Suffice it to say I "severed all ties" abruptly and just before we were supposed to go to a Doctor Who convention in St. Louis. I wish I could say there was some huge disagreement and we came down on opposing sides. I wish I could say he was trash-talkin' me in front of my peeps. No, it was all me, really. Me, dealing with my own crap... but still all me in the end.

Brad is that friend I would google on occasion--every 5 or 10 years or so--to see how he was doing (one of the first weblogs, credited with coining the term "blogsphere"), but I'm pretty sure was never brave enough to send him an e-mail. I never empty my send folder, so if I could get onto my last two computers, I could check to be sure--I'd at least feel a little better today if I knew I'd sent him an e-mail apologizing for being such an ass back in 1985.

The heart-breaker for me was pulling up his facebook page this afternoon, and seeing that "Add as friend" button. Something like an accusation, something like a really bad April Fool's Day joke, and something like an unsympathetic judge, it glared at me from the screen--accusing, laughing, punishing. And me without my time machine.

My sister-from-another-mister Lyndsey pointed out it might be wise to take the major lesson from this event and apply it to other areas of my life, and she's right.

We're only here for so long. Don't waste your relationships being stubborn or stupid or angry or bitter. And for pity's sake: make amends where you can. Mend fences, build bridges, and other constructiony things.

And make sure to remember to forgive yourself sometimes.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I'm in the same boat as you, sort of. It was complicated. I wish it had gone differently. Like you, I wish I'd done my part differently. And like you I feel as if I missed out somehow. Those are the lessons of life.

Anonymous said...

Mark, you write the words we are all too afraid to speak. I loved you and the "guys" of your era most of all. You brought joy to my life, and friendship to my sons they have not found the like of since. Thank you for making an Old woman feel the warmth of honesty once again. What a sermon in this!!!! Hart

Tracy Crowe Jones said...

Thanks for posting on my blog today. It is interesting we are dealing with the same issue from the two different sides of it.

On my way home from work I was listening to NPR and there was a commentary on your friend: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122277812. Such a small world we live in.

We are in KC Saturday. Steve has a rehearsal and then is in two improv shows that night. If you're free we'd love for you to meet up with us.

EyeRytStuf said...

Someone posted the text version of that on facebook... oddly enough, people commenting felt it was too fluffy, but I thought it was pretty appropriate for Brad. He had a great sense of humor, and I thought that piece would have at least made him smile, if not reply with some witty remark.

I don't know what my weekend looks like. I'm still trying to get the lowdown on the services. I'll get back to you then!