"Oh fortuna let us off your wheel", is one of the memorable epitaths that Ignacious Reilley would exclaim in times of trouble from the book the "Confederacy of Dunces". Which I always thought would be a wonderful movie starring Jeff Bridges. I read this book at the recommendation of my friend Alexia who I met when I was 15 and she 23 and lived in my neighborhood. Her cousin Gloria and I had psychology together at our strange windowless yet interesting inner city highschool. This lead to the introduction of me to Alexia who lived across the street from her house in a studio rental Gloria's dad owned. I was immediately interested because Alexia had a shrine to Bob Dylan. I just thought it was a cool idea to build an alter like that . I think it was this that made me an Alexia follower, although not much of a Dylan fan.
The reason I thought of Alexia today is that her mother unexpectedly died. I knew her mom from small gatherings over the years and apperciated the genorosity of her parents Eric and Jesse at their condo pool. My last months in Albuquerque before moving to Paris permentantly, I saw them at Thanksgiving in 2005. At the time I had a nice friend named Beth who had a great Thanksgiving planned inviting 50 people or more and I decided instead forgoing this inivitation and to go to Alexias parents' house because I wanted to see her parents before I left town. Basically I went specifically to see Alexias parents because I knew they were getting older and wanted to see them knowing I would not be returning to Albuquerque any time soon. Since Alexia had complex relationships with her family I was a little nervous but overall was really happy I went just because I got to see them. It is strange small family dinner with all the adult children regressing about twenty years except the real children stayed the right ages. We spoke of Germany as they had a granddaughter who was in the process of marrying a man and moving there.
Alexia's mother dying brings up my own issues with my mother and father and for whatever reason I am reminded to be less hard on them. Especially my mother who has found a sense of peace and joy these last years although still a difficult person for me and I for her, as I am a reminder of the P word, the past. So I got up to let the dog outside and spontaneously called my father whom I am fairly estranged from. I just told him I loved him and that I didn't really always want to be in so much conflict and perhaps we could even organize a visit in the future. He said he felt the same way and would like to visit. That call was about ten minutes ago. For me what changed was having Fred my son. My father has a tendency toward self pity which I find annoying. I have always kept in touch by sending photos of Fred and cards. My part is I can be really hard and critical obviously. I wish I could soften up. So, strangely my friend losing her last parent motivated me to reach out like this. Also, a sort of tenderness that overcame me at the death of Jesse. She had an important life. I liked her.
Thinking of Jesse my thoughts turn toward Alexia who is a special friend. Very open minded and when we first met liked wearing these ridiculous brightly colored gauzy dresses almost mumu like she bought at import stores. This was in the early eighties and not common things to wear. I tended toward button up oxford shirts with sweatshirts over them and the collars peeking out and jeans, not the most fashionable look. Soon I once starting art school I would dress more hip in loser clothing and pretty colorful artier smock tops. She was studying for her bachelors in psychology and had first tried at a University in Texas and was finishing at our local University. She evetually got her PhD I had the good fortune of attending her graduation in California. I think that was around 1996? I could be wrong on the date. It seemed like around that time.
She had a way of collecting off-beat friends and having intense friendships that were oftentimes fraught with conflict. I was often referred to as the young friend during the first years of our friendship. It was a safe mileu because she didn't drink or use drugs and we read all the time and Alexia wanted to remain a virgin until marriage. I might as well had fallen into a convent we were so straight laced. It was fun to hear about her friends at University and see the people visit her small studio and she would hold court of sorts on her murphy bed stacked high with colorful throw pillows ringed by stacks of books and the shrine to Bob dressed in her gauzy garb. While the petitioners would sit on the couch, one two sometimes three would stop by. While I was going to highschool she was in a paralell life at University. We spent a lot of time drinking iced teas at the Frontier restaurant and even played the occassional video game.
I met another friend who years later would become my roommate in my twenties. A homosexual man named Michael. He was impressive to my 17 year old eyes because he had visited Spain. The day he explained to me how to go through a University program, where the international office was on campus how it worked were like a revealation to me because I did not understand how to travel independently and that seemed like a good way to do it. When I had the money in my senior year of university I did manage a trip to Spain. So many interesting things happened at Alexias odd little virginal studio. I remember finding her life unusual somehow, once looking in her refrigorator for a cola or something and only seeing this abused looking carton of strawberries. Not even an old jar of olives! She tended to eat out at the Frontier a local restaurant. I liked to stop by on my way home from highschool and she was usually home as she didn't work during her bachelors and her parents continued to partially support her after she left town through her PhD even after in dribs and drabs. We would often talk about books. We both read a lot and my social skills were limited.
I guess we would be what are considered social misfits today? Although I look back and it was really innocent that time we hung out from the time I was 15 until 19 and Alexia 23-27, when she left for graduate school in California. Beginning her masters and later her Phd. Although we had a significant age difference somehow we were the same age mentally because I was pre-naturally old and she was pre-naturally naive. I remember her going away dinner at a Mexican restaurant and all her strange collection of friends listening expectedly at her last goodbye speech. Effectively she left Albuquerque that year never to return except for visits. That was the summer of 1984 I think when she left I could be wrong.
We used to hang on the phone and talk and still do. One of our famous conversations was eight hours long and we argued about the events of the terrorist attack at the Munich Olympics and what it meant. Curiously prophetic conversation. I am way to hard on her and wish I wasn't. It has been a gift to watch her and her extended family over the years and see how everyone stories went. What happened to who and did what kinda thing. I am sad Alexia's mother Jesse died and feel bad as I am sure Alexia will have a long period of mourning maybe forever. Also, thinking of how these life passages make us all pause and take a look at our own relationships. Neat that I feel more soft toward my father and my father reached back when I reached out. Life is very mysterious and full of suffering and for me I would like to find some kind of meaning in all these difficulties. I sometimes can't find meaning in the mystery. I feel strangely upbeat and sad at the same time; I often think to myself that our happiest momments are wrapped inside our saddest momments. Time is going fast are we having fun?