Facebook, or rather a stream of posts from my friends on Facebook, informed me yesterday that my friend Greg had died. I'd added his blog to my links a while back. Our friendship over the years, with one brief but powerful interlude, was conducted mostly online. That's where we met, many years ago on a BBS called The Dark Side of the Moon, where he was known as Bos. The m00n was an anomaly among BBS's, built around message boards rather than file sharing or multiplayer games, community rather than utility.
I met many friends there, an astonishing number given the relatively small population.
Gern was the sysop, an odd sort of geek who liked running his BBS but also liked hanging out with people in real life, and he'd do things like host parties with a pirate radio station broadcasting from the living room.
So it was that one evening myself and my pal Cole (nom de m00n: Chuck Reynolds) made our way to an upstairs apartment on Grand Avenue to meet a bunch of pre-internet online weirdos in the flesh, Greg among them.
The community that sprouted from the m00n coalesced into a 'scene' over the years, eventually enveloping two adjoining apartment buildings along with assorted satellite locations. Tech savvy young bohemians, early adopters of Burning Man, folk who'd work half the year for some Silicon Valley behemoth then spend the next six months touring South America in a psychedelic school bus.
One of my peculiar talents is remaining an outsider even among outsiders and I didn't make the transition from bbs geek hangout to what it became, but I loved all the friends I made there.
Greg threw me a lifeline at a particularly chaotic time, the unpleasant interregnum between when I became aware of what a mess my childhood had been and when I finally sought help to un-fuck myself. I needed a place to stay, and in spite of having no job or prospects and being borderline deranged, he offered me the top bunk while I got back on my feet.
The illusion of a normal life is like the still surface of a lake.
You gaze upon it and see all the world reflected, and you skitter along on the surface tension thinking, oh how lovely!, oblivious to the black depths beneath. But something happens, someone throws a rock and waves upset your balance, or sometimes you just forget how it works, this moving through life, or you weren't taught very well in the first place, and you go through and once you start to flounder it doesn't take long to drown.
You can find any number of people to share a pleasant reverie and skate alongside you in the sunshine on that glassy reflection. Those who'll extend a hand when you've tripped through to the cold below are a rarer and more worthy breed.
Greg was one of the few completely, fundamentally good people I've met in my life, and I'll miss him.