John Reifel, 1967-2010
His death is an argument for drug legalization. If drugs had been legal, 1) he wouldn't have been as attracted to the "forbidden fruit", 2) he would have had knowledge of the quantity and quality of the substances, giving him more control over his doses, 3) I could have been doing them with him, serving as a check on his usage, or getting him to hospital sooner! When he was with me he didn't need as many drugs because his real high came from manipulating me psychologically...
He was a talented, but lazy, musician who didn't pursue music because it wasn't financially rewarding, even though he didn't need to work for a living. Still, he took temp jobs because he felt he fit in better that way.
John looking at me with an expression of real sympathy on his face as I told him how difficult it was for me to live in the mess that Tracie's apartment was...
John and I at a Branford Marsalis concert, we headed to the exit before the encore and so were standing at the back when the band came back on, I hid behind him and danced a little as they played "It don't mean a thing"
John driving, me in the passenger seat, both high as fuck. He says something and I experience a leap of thought, jumping from what he said to an inference, then to another, and another, with lightning speed, until I come to a conclusion that I present to him. He hasn't followed the inferences though and is sure in his doubt of my conclusion. Defeated by his confidence, I don't even try to explain the chain of inferences I had traversed so quickly, and let it go...
Him stealing money from his Mom's purse, then I'd buy the drugs. The high began when he'd call and say "I got $60" or whatever.
Renting a motel room and buying several hundred dollars' worth of crack. Him asking me to leave for 20 minutes so he could masturbate.
The Lusty Lady...
John putting music on Tracie's Ipod, because I didn't know how. "I can't believe you don't know how to do this!" he says in surprise to me. But he was the expert, always collecting music from the library and burning CDs for me.
Second-last time I saw him we went to a jazz show, Jay Thomas and a big band, downtown on 2nd Avenue, right where I used to buy crack. The band was good, he told me the name of a tune he knew because he'd played it: Moten's Swing. He hummed along with the signature trombone riff of the song ... I left a $20 to pay for my coffee, he was shocked! "How can you leave such a big tip?" But I used to waste $20s by the handful when I was buying crack right outside the door so I didn't care. But that was John, always trying to make me think of how I was poor and needed to save money - at least, that's my interpretation :)
In my opinion, John didn't have a strong-enough purpose to his life; his main purpose seemed to be trying to fit in with his Mom's view of society, to feel like he was one of the "in" group when he was walking around Bellevue. He wanted the approval of my Mom: for example, once when he came over and was introduced to her friend, my Mom said "he's a handsome boy"; his purpose in life seemed to be to fulfill that role defined for him by the old women in the neighborhood, whose "divine right" to social power he chose not to question.
Society creates an environment of competition where none need exist, where food and resources are plentiful because of technology but artificially restricted by old women and their puppets, who believe it is their job to weed out the weak; they use psychological manipulation to exert mental pressure on ppl like John, subtly constraining him, making him think he has to work to fit in when his parents are millionaires and could easily let him pursue music instead of construction clean-up. Then when he dies from the strain, they write him off as a "misfit" anyway!
Instead of the life that society choose for him, I would have chosen for John to be free to do what he wanted without thinking about what others thought of his choices. Maybe then we could have played together more.
Memory: Driving around Bellevue with John, he tells me how his Dad drives these days, so slowly, leaving his turn signals on, etc. John says he looks at his Dad and thinks, "That's how I'll drive one day", as if it's inevitable, he can't escape it! He sounds disapproving, as if he doesn't want to end up that way, it's a bad thing, the weakness of age and all that, but there's nothing he can do to stop it. His tone contains all these inferences, the emotion in it is so expressive of the negative judgment on old people driving around with their turn signals on, and yet also expressive of the powerlessness of preventing it happening to him. I want to say No! You can avoid it! You can be anything you want, you don't have to follow right along in others' footsteps! But I can't somehow, the emotion in his voice has exhausted me, I can't summon the emotion in my voice necessary to counteract his...
I went to Robinswood Park today and thought about you. We went there once, not long before you died. I got high, you didn't. I thought about that day today as I tramped around the same trails we'd been on...
It was snowing. There weren't very many people there. I ran on some of the trails, it felt good and got me warm. I stopped by a pond with ducks on it and said Namokar Mantra while standing in the kayotsarga pose (straight, legs just slightly apart, hands hanging down at the sides, trying to keep all muscles relaxed and breathing deeply and slowly). There was a duck with a lot of white feathers who quacked as I came up, then put its head in its back but kept looking at me for the whole time I stood there. I slowly closed my eyes at him to indicate calmness and friendship.
I thought about when we were there, how nervous I always was in your presence, how I never would have felt I could just stop and meditate by a pond; you would have acted nervous and made me nervous and I would have deferred to you. You had a way of saying things sharply with a tone that seemed to deflate whatever emotions I was trying to experience, instead making me feel small and deferential to you. I was always thinking that you were with me out of some act of kindness, if I didn't please you you wouldn't want to go anywhere with me next time, and that would be a bad thing, would make me depressed. But today I was alone and felt exhilerated, great, sticking my tongue out to catch snowflakes, running on the paths, whistling, stopping to observe and listen to and talk with all kinds of birds ... I don't think I would have been able to do any of those things if you had been there ...
I remember when we were there I did one rep of 10 pullups, and you were gracious enough to watch me and ask with a tone I took to be approval "was that 10?" after I'd finished. (It was.) Today I was thinking of that as I did 3 reps of 10 :)
I'm thankful we went there and that i was able to return there today; I'm sorry and a little sad that I'll never go there with you again. But even if you were still alive, would I have felt comfortable calling you if I was headed there? Probably not, I would have been too afraid that you would blow me off, say "Nah" in a derisive tone and wound me psychologically for having put myself in a position to be rejected by asking you.
I didn't smoke any pot today. The feeling of being free from that habit got me as high as the drug!