I found out an old friend, from the days of my depression, passed away from a rare form of cancer. She wasn’t even 40, if I remember her age correctly. I had been thinking a lot about her lately, but we haven’t spoken since about 1999/2000. In fact, I don’t even know if she would have remembered me. For the past few days, the news has stuck with me, always in the back of my brain. When I sat down and decided to write this post, I saw it as a way to figure out why I need to grieve for her.
I’ve been open about my mistakes and failure in the past. From the age of 20 until I was about 24, I lived in a depression the was both caused by and created more bad choices. In the middle of it, just before I turned 22, my parents brought me home to Miami and tried to help me get back to where I wanted to be. It was a difficult four years and one of the ways I coped was becoming a bit obsessed with a band, Better Than Ezra. What was it about this band? I have no idea. Want to know how obsessed I was? I traveled around the south, as far west as Baton Rouge in one case, to see them perform. It started innocently enough- they were suppose to play in Tallahassee the night of my 20th birthday and the show got canceled. Months later I would drive out with a friend to see them in Jacksonville. From there it was a mix of the internet connecting fans, allowing us to become friends, and my own need to get away from my life. Driving hours to a concert, staying with friends, seeing a concert, and then driving home was two days I didn’t have to spend with roommates I hated and a life I no longer wanted. Not only was the obsession a way of coping, but it was also the way of avoiding the mess I had made and getting a break from it.
I met this woman after I moved home to Miami and she was new to the fandom herself. I wanted to be important to her and, for about 2 years, we were friends. I stayed with her for shows and she did the same when they were in Miami. I remember one show around Halloween where we decided to dress up as fairies and sat in her bedroom watching a video tape I had been sent of live performances. The floor of her bedroom was covered in stockings, wire hangers, and other crafting supplies. We tried to interpret song lyrics, understand the relationships between other fans, and shared gossip we had learned from others. In the end, only I wore the wings and they were as annoying as you can imagine they were.
Towards the end, the fan community soured for me (and probably to me) as time went on. I wanted to be more important than I was. I wanted the band and other fans to recognize I was important. It overshadowed my enjoyment of the concerts. It was hard for me to be on the fringe of insiders who knew things and had connections, but not have it myself. I pulled away from the fan community quickly when I got push back for something I didn’t want to defend or argue about. I realized how I was allowing myself to stay stuck in my depression by not moving on. Being a fan of this band had gotten me through the more severe depression in my life, but was now my excuse to stay there. Just as quickly as our friendship started, it ended. There wasn’t a fight. There wasn’t a send off of any time. We just lost touch because I had removed myself from our only shared interest.
I don’t regret letting go of being a fan. I have avoided becoming obsessed with other bands or celebrities like that again. Even with Better Than Ezra, I haven’t been to a concert in over 15 years. Even when they are in the same city as me, I avoid it. They are a moment in time and I can’t erase that context. The obsession helped and hurt me, but I remember those years fondly. What I regret a little is letting go of a friend because we hadn’t been able to create a stronger bond. I had been thinking about this woman a lot recently. I wondered what happened to her, considered finding her on Facebook, and maybe even messaging her. Now I silently thank her for being a friend when I needed one.