It was two thousand and eight. It had been a hard day at work, I was outside the building smoking a cigarette and for whatever reason- destiny, love from the universe, or maybe just because, Ghori drove by...saw the sadness in my eyes and told me that he knew who would help me, that it was time I met his friend.
I had heard about this man before from the old Fuel days, but up until that night had never came across him, I remember being nervous and excited. The seventeenth floor. My first encounter with him was intense. When I first got there I went and used the restroom, with the door slightly ajar, I heard him tell Ghori that I was one of the classy ones, a real woman. Our conversation was a brutally honest one, I cried, I poured my heart out to him, he gave me advice on me wanting to be a writer and I cried more. I felt like I had just gone to a therapy session. I'm pretty sure we were all stoned and that probably had a lot to do with this yogi like feeling I felt. Ghori and I kissed the entire way down. Seventeen floors. I had found a muse, two of them.
I kept going back to see him, his view of the river was incredible, hearing him speak of his past, the secrets that he kept only for those he knew wouldn't judge, we would sit up there and drink beer, me taking mental note of the great things he was saying and telling him about all my love affairs, and who I trully loved, and him asking me why it wasn't him. When I met a boy I really especially liked, I would take him with me, just like Ghori had taken me, to meet this great man, and he always made sure to let me know if he dug the guy or not. Matthew had been his favorite.
He encouraged me to write how I felt comfortable writing, which was putting myself into my writing, getting personal, to hell with everyone else, he'd tell me. To feel free to curse or talk about sex or about my depression. He was at the first open mic poetry reading I did, and my piece, indeed, were full of lines about him. Lines about great writers with crowded calendars that hung on the walls. About his typewriter clacking away all night. About how he was one of the last romantics, a writer.
He'd always call at two or three in the morning..usually intoxicated in the middle of a poem and he'd recite me lines and tell me how much he wished he was younger so I would consider being with him, a dirty old man for sure. For the zine collection downtown, there was a gala event..I asked him if he would be my date and I came dressed to the nines and didn't mind at all that he was wearing jeans, I was proud to be there with him, and when he asked me to fill up his empty coffee mug with shrimp from the party so he could eat them later, I didn't hesitate. The nights I would venture out to the bar on the corner from where he stayed, I'd make sure to call him as I stood on the corner and tell him to look down and blow him a kiss. When I got off my anti-depressant medications he smiled the biggest smile I've seen and told me he knew I could do it, I was stronger than that.
These past few weeks I would run errands for him, grocery shopping, getting his mail, little things like that. For whatever reason it was, I felt the need to tell him I loved him whenever we talked and before I left I would always hug him and kiss him on the cheek. He told me one night before I left that I didn't realize how much one missed being touched until you were where he was in his life, I hugged him and kissed his cheek more often after that.
Yes, my heart is heavy. Yes, I went out Monday night and got plastered to the point where I don't know how I ended up where I did. Yes, he had just gotten out of the hospital but he was doing so well, walking around with a cane for once.. I took it as a blow to the stomach, seeing him just a few days prior. Yes, i know how death works, his energy all around us, him free of pain, but I can't help but be pissed off at the world for taking away someone so dear to me. I can't help but cry when I know how many people are missing him, how many people woke up this morning with heavy hearts like my own.
Alan Justiss, you were my patron saint, my writer muse, but most of all one of my best friends. With every line I write you'll be forever in my mind and heart.