Katu passed away today, 19 years old. He helped me through some of the most difficult years of my life, then moved in with my mom and helped her with some of her most difficult years. Thank you for everything, little buddy. You were the best cat ever.
I’m not one for making last-minute travel plans. Mostly it’s the cost that puts me off. I’m also not a fan of the stress that comes when everything is booked and you’re left with the feeling of, “Well, now what do we do?” And anyway, spontaneity is over-rated and unbecoming once one reaches a certain age.
That being said, it’s important to recognize opportunity when it presents itself, even if it’s not necessarily easy or convenient. For example: a high-school friend mentions that he’s got an extra ticket to a sold-out concert this weekend. It’s a chance easily dismissed, especially if attending the show means flying to another city. It will be expensive and time consuming. It’ll be loud and hot and smelly. And your buddy isn’t the guy you hung out with 20 years ago. So really, it’s not worth it. Move along.
Of course, the band is one of your favorites. And that plane ticket actually won’t break the bank. Not that this makes such a trip any more sensible.
These are the first and second thoughts I had when I discovered a friend from long ago had an extra ticket to see Lush in Chicago. Fortunately, I heard one of those third thoughts when my wife said, “You should go.”
So I did go. And it was expensive. And loud, hot, and smelly. And my buddy wasn’t the same person I once knew.
And that was all okay, because as it turns out, I wasn’t the same person either. Catching up with Kevin, I was reminded that some friendships transcend time and distance. Such friendships are few, and it should be mandatory to have a drink with those friends at least once every decade or so. Someday they won’t be around. Someday you won’t be around.
The show itself was nothing short of fucking amazing, but as a longtime fan of Lush, you’d expect me to say that. I’m not a music critic, and this isn’t a review. If that matters, you can get that here. Suffice it to say that this concert gave me the rare opportunity for something more than a trip down memory lane for a handful of best-of moments. It was an opportunity to re-engage with music that has held a meaningful place in my life. I am, as I always have been, blown away by their art. When art moves you like that, it should not be taken lightly.
Most importantly, I am reminded to listen to those third thoughts: you should go.
Growing up moving from place to place, writing and receiving letters meant a lot to me. I never was very good at it, largely owing to my particular brand of lazy perfectionism, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t moved when I found a friend’s handwritten words, heavy with meaning and intimacy, in my mailbox. And because I craved that joy of connection to another human being, I would eagerly scribble my own words in response.
Then email came along. And instant messaging. And Facebook. And then cheap and ultimately free long-distance. And my life started to look decidedly more grown-up and I found I had all the meaning and intimacy I could handle. Plus, writing letters takes time and I can’t seem to find enough of that as it is, and there is shit that needs to get done. So I don’t write letters at all these days.
I miss it. For one, I am tired of finding absolutely nothing worthwhile in my mailbox. Amazon Prime is nice, but online shopping does absolutely nothing to fill my postal void. More than that though, I miss putting a pen to paper and writing words for another person. With a handful of sentences I can surgically expose my mind to single trusted recipient. I miss seeing my thoughts take shape at my own hands. I miss the sharing, the openness, the softly-spoken vulnerability of a hand-written letter.
This isn’t to say that I resent social media or email. I am no luddite, and I love how the internet has dismantled distance and time. But nothing is an everything-tool, and I am interested in exploring what the humble handwritten letter can do that the mighty internet can not.