Monday, July 12, 2010

Deaths around me/Death surrounds me

I walked past a man wearing a t-shirt declaring "good die young" this afternoon. This very statement has seemed true over the past little while as a couple of delightful people who I knew, not well, but shared the stage with, people I shared community with, people I felt inspired by, have passed in high profile deaths. Perhaps more of my peers and former acquaintances have died and it's passed through my awareness, but I doubt that with facebook memorials and the never ending gossip mill that is social networking would allow that. This morning I turned on the CBC when I awoke to hear the host interviewing a local long boarder about the risks associated with the sport, and about Glenna. Her and I share 14 friends on facebook, and have shared space at least that many times. We both lived in Victoria at the same time, and I would party with her, watch her perform with the Velo Vixens, and generally be awe at her ability to spin fire, ride tall bikes, wear incredible outfits and be so genuinely friendly (often all at once). We weren't really in contact, but I knew that she was in now in Vancouver, and our paths didn't cross as often, but I'd still see her at events sometimes. On Friday she died in a death that's made the CBC, Vancouver Sun, Global TV and numerous online new sources. She was beautiful, young, athletic and artistic. I suppose that makes good news. Or at least sellable news, I wouldn't call this news good for anyone.
This is the second time this year that I have seen familiar faces across newspapers this year due to death. Back in November I was shocked to see the face of Pest on the front of the Sun on my way to school. She used to live in her van in the back yard of a house I lived in, often occupying our living room, filling it with song, vivacious energy and sharp laughter. Again, we weren't really in touch anymore, since we had both moved away from Victoria. She had returned to Hornby since leaving my yard and was killed on the dock where her boat home was parked. Being a fairly odd occurance, a murder on Hornby hit front pages all over the place. I was reminded of Pest's unicycling antics, bright green hair and impressive wrenching on her vintage VW bus-home.
Perhaps I am reaching an age, an age where people around you start dying, maybe this is what happens. I know enough of us who barely survived adolescence, and now a couple of us who thrived until our mid twenties, only to go out in big ways. Many of my closest friends have been suicidal at some point or another. That might be a crazies attract crazies situation, or it may be tell tale of the overlap between struggling with discordant bodies and minds and the often associated mental health challenges that come along. Or maybe those of us who've survived that and really want to be alive now have a way of finding each other. If I can think of 2 people who seemed to make the most of life, adventuring with abandon, creating and expressing the darkest and brightest sides of experience, it would be Glenna and Pest. I know that their worlds overlapped and I may be even be as presumptive to think that this drawing of Glenna's (found on her website) was about Pest's funeral/death.
As I know I am not the only one feeling the loss of these inspiring young (27, 25) women. Creators, circus performers, artists, friends and really lovely people. Gone. But from their faces across the papers. It seems to make it even more surreal. If I am to imagine the 2 of them in an afterlife scene though, it's even more surreal. I see them, both on stilts, possibly riding a comically large bike and unicycle respectively, most likely wearing skull masks and completely on fire. Entirely under control, while dancing their way through their own fiery performance of afterlife. Their tracks would paint out an abstract masterpiece and the sounds of their vehicles would combine into a discordantly sweet melody. Good, young, dead. Surreal but true. I hope that the works left by these women continue to impact the world and inspire that sense of shameless expression that they both embodied.

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