It's been a joy, to be a part of the show, Compounds Not Required: 29,…
I’ve had two private little worlds in my recent life. This one… where It’s just me and wayward pencils. The other has been happening nearly nightly in the wee hours in an always-welcoming Facebook chat window. It’s been an incredible world indeed. Nearly every night for over a year now one of my closest friends Jeff Alexander has been waiting for me. He’s been one of my “gang”, a core group of friends that I’ve had for about 13 years now. But Facebook deepened our friendship and with great fun and flair. We rarely posted on one another’s wall, There was no need as we would be sharing all those links and chatting for hours on I.M.
Jeff was a wallflower in public. He was unassuming, quiet and always there, yet, give him a chat window and his extraordinary mind and life came bursting out. He had more hobbies than anyone I know. He was a great cartoonist who I often chastised for not producing more. Fortunately he always took that with a smile because it was always meant as a great compliment to him. He was soooo talented and I loved his work. He loved working on his cigar box guitar… something else I never would have known about had we not spent our time filling in one another with our daily escapades. He was soooo proud of that thing. He was a comics geek of the highest order: executive director for the Small Press Expo here in D.C., in charge of the Ignatz Awards for years and a trivia master. He just graduated with another degree and loved it. He would research and learn at every given opportunity and his world was full. His wit was shockingly strident and often left me with a perplexed smile, only because his thought processes were so perfectly strung together that he could have made millions had he ever put any of it on a t-shirt. He was the master of poignant bumper sticker philosophy.
We shared, discussed, debated, informed, followed, and entertained one another for hours each night. And I mean hours! I could be painting and even in the middle of something wonderfully focused, if I’d here his Facebook chime, all activity would stop as we would immediately pick up where we left off. I would keep my chat window up all night and he would pop in at all times. Often our window was already full of links, topics and shares before I even had the chance to say hello. We would talk about Art, Architecture, Philosophy, Politics, Comics, guitars and even whatever neat Japanese cultural insight he’s be offering. There was always something. We are both nerds who love research and we’d often spend as much time talking as we did looking up those facts we wanted to address more specifically. We flourished as friends and it was our own little world. It was also one he had with his other friends as well.
I’ve reached out to a select few on Facebook during my time of need this year, but I never had to reach out to Jeff. He was already there and waiting. I looked forward to seeing his little green dot each night and saying hello! with the same gusto he always brought. Even when there was Facebook’s half moon – meaning that he had simply stepped away – he was still there, creating, drawing, reading or doing something. It was just a matter of time before he’d pop on to tell me all about it. We were kindred spirits. He bought me bonsai plants which I would proceed to accidently kill off despite my best efforts. I would get him pens and drawing pads for birthday’s and Christmas, no hint there : ) We would meet for movies, dinners and parties but sadly not often enough.
The other night I popped home from a party and had about five minutes to gather my drawing supplies before heading back out for the day’s sketch and there he was on I.M. I didn’t say hello. I knew he would be there all night and that we would talk in spades in just a few hours. He never showed up again that evening. I decided to read a little and kept checking for him every so often in the chat window. I thought good for him. He’s doing something important. The next day I awoke to the news that he’d had a heart attack the night before and died at the hospital. I am devastated. It’s safe to say, I’ve fallen and I get back up. I know I’ll be a able to get back up in a few days… I’m just still so stunned. Right now, I can’t even find my way back onto Facebook. It’s not the same without him. I don’t know how long it will be before I ever show myself on chat. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. I’m sure rest of the gang and his other closest friends are feeling similar. He filled our worlds. As such, my world and my Facebook world has a huge and painfully gaping hole in it that feels as though it won’t ever be growing back. Jeff was one of a kind. I’ve spent the past two days reorganizing my massive book collection, purging my past in a veritable daze and finding a great deal of comfort in some “Great!” cheese… Funny how blurting out, damn that’s good cheese can wipe away misery for awhile. I’m torn between wanting to check to see if he’s online yet and not wanting to be online at all.
So there you have it. This drawing is for Jeff. He would love to be a part of this blog. Today’s drawing is about our lively conversations that just seemed to sing along. I’ve put his cigar box guitar in there as today’s topic. We had so much fun talking about it and it was so great to experience his excitement over shoring up the connections and considering guitar straps. I was nothing but smiles because here was yet another unexpectedly fun thing I didn’t know about him and I enjoyed every minute of hearing about it. In today’s drawing I’ve put a small Facebook chat dot next to my name. It will always glow green in my memory. Good-bye Jeff Alexander – fantastic mind and heart that you are. I miss you.
Britt : )