Monday, August 20, 2012

My Dancing Queen

This post is dedicated to my friend Joe... 
February 16, 1980 - August 18, 2012

The animal lover:

The cross dresser:
Lover of women:
Yes, his shirt says "I heart Strippers"

Some assholes playing gangster games Friday night into Saturday morning resulted in his untimely death. 

Having never experienced death of someone without warning I'm figuring out how to deal with the mourning, the grief stages all while holding on to every piece of time spent with this person in the last couple years. Joe and I went to high school together and started our college educations at American River College. I would often laugh in total disbelief at the vivid memories he had of our conversations from ARC. I don't know if I just have a really bad memory or perhaps he was just able to recall more than me because he is much brighter than me. Sometimes I just plain thought he was making it up. 

I was lucky to receive a friend request on Facebook from Joe in December 2010 - I accepted and he asked me to join him for dancing. I put off the invitation for several weeks mostly due to my own shyness and not knowing how to dance. He assured me he would come over and teach me the moves before we went out to blues dancing at the local Firehouse 5. He came over with a bottle of wine to help with the confidence (liquid courage) and then taught me the basic steps of Blues. He made it easy, so easy that when he told me I was a natural I believed him. 

One thing was for sure that evening, I fell in love with dancing Joe. On the dance floor watching him move with other women (and men) I was absolutely gawking. I've never seen anyone move with such grace, style and sexuality (in flip flops!). By the end of the night we were all drenched with sweat and I was starving. Joe was kind to escort me to Burgers and Brew - it had to be close to 11pm and a Sunday night! This was very unlike me to be out so late and on top of that eating grilled cheese sandwiches and french fries. We spoke of relationships, his dancing community and running. I knew instantly that this was a different person from high school. The high school/college Joe I knew was very quiet and didn't say a whole lot. In fact, I think I just found him a bit odd. Not in a bad, creepy way but in an intriguing what-is-going-on-in-his-head sort of way. 

Joe and I quickly became friends and had a few adventures that I'm grateful for. Tree climbing, trampoline jumping, swing/salsa dancing for crowds, staying up way past my bedtime. He put me through a track workout that had me walking funny for 2 days and then we'd gorge at Mark and Monica's pizza.

Through all these things I learned more about Joe than one does knowing someone for years and years. He had that kind of open, infectious personality that left you energetic after spending time with him. 

There is no saving grace in a situation like this. So I'm just going to say that I'm grateful I had the privilege of knowing him and sharing/exchanging thoughts with him while I had the chance. I will miss his charisma and I'm not too sure that he could have lived his life any fuller in his 32 years. 

Miss you.