I like Brian’s enthusiasm. It’s infectious. No…..really……being around a positive soul is good soup. Brian’s experiences as a Deadhead is who he is. Deadhead is an angle of him. If you look at him through a different angle you still get the same results. What makes Brian interesting is how many angles you can view him from. Each angle is a piece of a whole. Sometimes in our frantic lives we look at pieces but not wholes. For so many of us we never get the chance to see the whole of life.
I’d like to present another angle of Brian. An angle that takes place before Jerry’s death but after we were undergratuates. Brian, A.J. and me are low hanging fruit. It’s upwards of 26 years I’ve known them. They have been a part of my conscience for over a quarter of a century. I met them through Alex who was the drummer of their band. A.J. and me also know each other from a creative writing course. I showed up at Brian and A.J.’s house to see Alex drum and there was A.J on guitar and Brian on bass.
A.J. had bought a raffle for a charity and won a free portrait. On a sunny Spring Sunday in San Luis Obispo, Brian in tie-die, A.J. in a t-shirt, Whitney (a.k.a the Demon Weed) in the back and me on the left, found ourselves in a motel room having a group portrait taken. All the details allude me. How we got there, what we were thinking and feeling. Brian and A.J. had hair. Whitney looks mischievous, and I look twelve with Jew hair. Less then a decade later A.J. produces the portrait at my wedding, and the four of us take another group portrait with me holding the original. And although there are the noticeable physical differences, we are still the same four with the same shared experiences with the same reasons to smile.
After the picture was taken we walked across the street and sat in a restaurant bar having margaritas and salsa and chips before noon. We probably laughed about the portrait and we probably drank and we probably did whatever it was we did.
Periodically we reminisce about the original portrait, trying to fill in gaps where most of the details are forgotten. Brian, in his always effervecent way keeps the memory positive and full of laughter; A.J. tells the story like a journalist, loud and boisterous, and I tend to be an idealist, looking for meaning in the span of time passed between both photos and the time passed now.
The original portrait is on my bookshelf. The wedding portrait beside it. And beside that perhaps a third photo documenting the span of at least thirty years.