I’ve been hesitant to post anything to my site for a little while, because it was going to force me to write about something painful, something still new, and something that absolutely HAD to be the very next thing I wrote about.
So here’s goes nothing…
On August 26, 2014, my friend and former roommate Mary Atchison died. Her boyfriend of 10 years was booked on a charge of homicide. I met the guy once, and I didn’t know him. Police say that the cause of Mary’s death was blunt force trauma. The suspect’s bail was recently upped to $2 million dollars as new evidence recently came to light that supposedly shows he was making attempts to cover up the crime. He has pleaded “Not Guilty” and the trial is still in it’s “discovery phase.”
She was allegedly murdered the late night/early morning that I attended a San Francisco Giants game, and, if you knew Mary, then you knew she absolutely loved the San Francisco Giants. Before driving up to Northern California, I sent her a message that I was coming into town, while Hope and I were on vacation driving up the coast. I didn’t hear back. I didn’t think that was too abnormal. I’d not seen Mary in awhile, and we kept in touch sporadically via social media.
On September 7, 2014, there was a memorial for Mary up in San Mateo County, near La Honda, a gorgeous redwood forest amphitheater, where I saw people I’d not seen in quite awhile, including Mary’s close friend and also a former roommate, Dave. Finding closure for such a dramatic and sudden end for someone is difficult. When that someone is Mary, who was so gregarious, so ebullient, so open, so smart, so funny, so much sunshine personified, it’s just a pain that’s never going to go away.
Dave and I know this. We also know we’ll have to move on. And we don’t even really talk about it. We just know. I mean really, what is there to say?
It was really so good to see my friend Dave again.
We reminisced about our time living together, how, when we were in our mid-20’s, living at this awesome flat on Potrero Ave. in the San Francisco Mission District, we were crazy, we were irreverent, we were brilliant, we threw the most epic parties in San Francisco, and it was exactly what we should’ve been doing. Nothing was off the table. No regrets. Great, unforgettable experiences. And a lot of love. We all got along famously. It was a special time in our lives.
And as I try to fight through the tears that come on as a result of this situation when I think about it, I can’t feel as if I’m going to get the words out right. I know I won’t get the words out right. Because I want you to know who Mary was. SO MUCH. I want you to see her hilarious fascination with the color purple. I want you to experience the funny word games we’d play – for instance, we were obsessed with how many possible ways a person could write a word differently, but in a “phonetically correct” way. (My favorite was always the word “dude” spelled as “deuxed” — there was no weak ass “cool” subbed with “kewl”, that was stuff for amateurs — how about “scillvur” for the word silver, or “phawcks” for the word “fox”? … and bonus points if you’d substitute an actual “word” for a “word” like “whirred!” as in Whirred Up!) I want you to know that Mary loved to dance, to hike, to bike, to camp, to fucking live like there’s no fucking tomorrow. I want you to know Mary. I want you to know that sometimes she’d go too far. And that it didn’t matter. For her it WAS all about the journey. She HATED tomatoes. She LOVED the Giants and 49ers, especially the Giants. I ALWAYS knew where Mary stood on anything, even if we were in complete disagreement. I loved her for that. Such a rare quality in a person.
Damn. More tears.
It’s the pain of stuff like this that made me a writer though. And a cook. I’ve lost people I loved in sudden and dramatic ways before – this is the first one I’ve lost to a murder, which, I’m still processing – but anyway – I want to write to keep them alive, to keep me alive, to keep the allness of what we are, as people, alive. Cooking, it forces me to be present, to be in the moment. Whereas writing allows me to wander. To remember. It all helps to balance me and yet I teeter every which way. Jeez. I’m such a Libra, so back and forth.
Okay, I’m losing track here, but I’m having fun, and I know that somehow this is organized and will end up well.
Which was the Mary way.
Let me get to the important point I want to make already.
Here’s why, I think, Mary loved the San Francisco Giants. Anyone who knows baseball will agree, Los Gigantes are not the most talented team in baseball. In fact, in the years they won the World Series, 2010 and 2012, exactly ZERO experts picked them to win the World Series when the playoffs started (remarkably, the same thing has happened this year.) Each year their roster is composed of: the unheralded, the rookies, the misfits, the overlooked, the underrated, the enthusiastic, and the weird. Their margin of error for winning games seems so small. And yet, when the pressure is highest, when the chips are on the table, this group will never give in, they will never give up. They know that eke-ing out a win by one run is the same result as winning by ten runs. They know that tomorrow is not guaranteed and so they play like each game is their last. Last night, the Giants won the longest playoff game ever played, 6 hours and 30 minutes, a riveting 18 inning game won by the Giants 2-1, after the Giants, down to their last out, seemed done for. And they found a way.
And now they seem to be on a collision course with their arch rival, the LA Dodgers, who are big flash and big attitude and big money stars. I live in LA and I think it’s fair to say, the team fits the city. And it fits that the teams and the fans of the teams hate each other. Of course the Dodgers will have their hands full with the Cardinals. Another team that is about the team and not the stars.
I really REALLY wish that Mary could’ve seen the Giants game yesterday. Longest and most intense baseball game I’ve ever seen. Won by a bunch of grunts.
Can the grunts ever beat the stars? What is a “star”? What is a “grunt”?
And who cares about “star” or “grunt” perception anyway? Who gives a shit about flash for flashes sake? If you’ve got character, real character, it shines through, it signifies your value as a person, even if so many dopes out there can’t pick up on it, because they, sadly, are devoid of it.
Why would the amount of money, the amount of toys, the amount of any shiny thing, signify wealth? Is not wealth, true wealth, the amount of friends you have, the quality of those friends, the quantity of experiences that you have with those friends?
I’ll wrap this up by telling you that when I think about the friendship I had with Mary, I feel wealthier. I feel stronger. I feel valuable. I feel that much more dedicated to seeing just how good of a writer I can be.
I miss my friend, mostly, because I just want to thank her for all that.
PS – here’s a link to donate to La Casa de Las Madres, an organization that helps victims of domestic violence, in memory of Mary.