Although the bar I was working didn't serve alcohol and wasn't housed in a pub the clientele was still as potentially volatile. Teens swarmed me from all sides, blocking me into the bar, yelling out for more pop, more pizza, asking how much could they get for free, requesting this song and that from the DJ in the sound booth behind me.
I listened to them all, waited on them with patience and when the wave finally subsided I stepped up to the booth and looked in, folding my head into the crooks of my arms for a moment of rest. I watched my friend who was in charge of the music for the dances the Teen Center held weekly listening on his own personal earphones to something very different than what was playing for the teens on the dance floor. I watched him for a moment and appreciated the peaceful look he always had when he listened to music. As of late he had looked thinner and I knew him to be anxious and a bit morose. His eyes were dark and always mixed with a sense of unsure and incredibly sure of himself. When he finally met my gaze his eyes did shine a bit mischievously as he slid off his headphones and motioned me closer to him, a smile creeping across his sprite like face, a faint uneven mustache growing around the curve of his lips.
"Lemme guess little girl, they want Mo' Money Mo' Problems and Tha Crossroads?" Smiling wider now he gently pawed at my hand for a moment and asked for a water. He smelled of cigarettes, sweat and faintly of something sour. I was sure that it wasn't necessarily natural to worry about someone older than you, but I still was. I gathered he was unhappy, gathered that he was fighting some demons, gathered that he was tired and sad. I always had the feeling I wanted to wrap my arms around him, hold him close, beg him to tell me what was in his head, but I never felt it was my place. I was just a little girl he knew, I told him my problems and not the other way around.
After the dance was over and we cleaned up in silence, listening to a band he suggested to me that met in between of the two styles of music we enjoyed. We both had walked to work that day and had decided to walk around together towards Main St. and talk and smoke. He listened while I complained and cried about my boyfriend, who wasn't really a boyfriend but rather a menace and he said nothing for a very long time. I thought he was annoyed with my blithering girl talk.
He stopped and looked at me, reached out and rubbed my shoulders with his small soft hands. He was a small man but still taller than me and he looked down into my eyes. How could someone's eyes be so wise and yet so clouded with confusion? He was an enigma to me. He brought me into a generous hug, hugs I had loved so much to get from him and without the slightest sexual force he brushed his lips on mine and then hugged me again. In my ear he said very softly,
"There are good people and bad people in the world. (Your boyfriend) is bad and he will always be, you are good and you will always be. You are a light and my little girl."
He let me go and then just walked on. I stood there for a second disbelieving that somebody had spoken such sweet, kind words to me, like something out of a novel, like the way people talked in my dreams. The unexpected whisperer of truths and wisdoms my friend walked on and I hurried to catch up with him. He took my hand in his and we walked a ways and when we were closer to my house than his, we parted and I went home.
I spent time with him on and off during the years to come, our friendship turning into closer friends and then into not as close acquaintances with the passing of time. After I was a mother and busy and changed we ran into each other and I was so incredibly happy to see him it hurt. We went to the local coffee shop and although I had daughters at home with a sitter waiting for me we talked and talked for two hours.
He told me about his wife who I had known from high school and about how she was pregnant with their first child, his second child. He was excited, rounder, clean and healthy looking, almost buoyant. When we parted again it was with promises of keeping in touch and although we didn't I felt that we would see each other again and looked forward to when we did.
But we didn't. My friend Anthony Lewis Snow died 7 months later unexpectedly, eight years ago today, April 30th, 2004. When he died he was the same age I am now.
He was an interesting man, a lovely man, a sensitive man, a rough man, a soft man, sweet, caring, brusque, intense and yet easy to get along with. He was a riddle and an open book and I loved him very much.
I fall asleep in the full and certain hope
That my slumber shall not be broken;
And that, though I be all-forgetting,
Yet shall I not be all-forgotten,
But continue that life in the thoughts and deeds
of those I have loved.