The Eye of my Tornado

I was sitting here this evening searching for the latest news on #HurricanHarvey, when a song started playing that hit me over the head like a ton of bricks to pull me out of the deluge of weather reports.

Back in the mid 90’s, I worked with and hung out with a bunch of social rejects. That’s a bit harsh, but irregardless of the term, we all bonded for reasons varying for social ineptitude to sheer rejection of society. We had everyone from the crazed punk rocker to the free living hippie.

I called a lot of these people friends even though society called them outcasts. We were different. That’s for sure. Most of all, we were just dumb kids in our late teens to early twenties

At this time, my best friend and craziest friend in the world was a girl from Kansas. Her name was Abby. She didn’t walk into a room, she whirled into a room. She was a hippie stuck in the wrong decade. When she wasn’t working, she wore hippie clothes from the 60’s. She was a fashion freak and made hippie fashion trendy before it was a trend again. She was an amazing person and the eye in my own tornado that brought a brief respite to the storm.
Niccolò Ubalducci Photographer
We used to talk all night long about her life in Kansas, tornadoes, and her dreams of moving to California. She loved me like a brother, and I loved her like a sister. I was a little fella back in those days, but I kept her out of trouble on a few occasions. The woman wouldn’t hurt a mouse, but like the rest of us, she had a wild side. She knew how to break me but also how to make me. She lit up my very dark world with kindness and goofiness. She was a saving grace, really. I wouldn’t be here, if it wasn’t for her, and of course, a lot of other people.

I remember us sitting in the darkness talking one morning about 4AM, only lit by a single incandescent bulb in a large room, when we heard the light pelting of summer rain. She leaped from her chair, started laughing, and demanded that I go dance with her in the rain. I laughed, opened the door, and motioned for her to go outside. I shut the door behind her. I was trying to be funny and somewhat mean, but she didn’t care. I ran to the window to discover her dancing under a street light. I ran outside and did something that I had never done before in my life, feel comfortable and be in the moment. We danced like goofs in the rain for probably half an hour, just the two of us in the muted rain. We were two tortured and twisted souls that made one normal human being.

She was a big Grateful Dead fan and had become friends with roadies over the years. The last time I saw her was in early 96, I think. I do remember it raining on that cold February morning. She laughingly insisted that we dance in the rain one more time. She said she’d call me as soon as she got to California. She did write me a letter, and I wrote her back. Over the years, we lost track of one another as people do.

In 2006, she found me on skype. At first, I didn’t know who she was, but when she wrote her name back, I instantly knew who I was talking to. We talked for hours about her adventures and jobs in Cal. And my adventures in the past decade. She had a brilliant eye for aesthetics and style alike. She had no formal training, but she worked on a lot of music videos(below), short films, and the occasional tv show. She was a go getter. She’d do anything to stay on set and keep the production moving forward. She said her life was great, and that I should (at the time) come out.

I lost track of her again in late 2006. I was trying to sort out my own troubles at that time and didn’t give her the attention she deserved. The last time I talked to her, I was stressing out over final exams in college. She was the type of person that required your full attention, but she gave back as much as she took.

I found out in late 2012 that she had overdosed and her light no longer shines on our world. The conditions of her overdose and death are no ones business. I know, but I have enough respect for her family not to say. I, like a lot of people, feel that I can’t do anything to help friends or family with a drug addiction. In 2015, 52,404 people died due to accidental overdose in the US. According to the CDC, 33,000 of those were due to Opioids (including prescription opioids ((pain killers)) and heroin). This is the highest number on record!

You don’t need a f*cking degree in psychology to help someone. If you know someone struggling with addiction, call them. Ask them how they are doing. Get them to tell you a story. Keep them engaged. If I’d done that, my friend might still be here. I’m not trying to clear my conscious, but I do wish she were still here. I lost an angel due to drugs, and I have almost lost family. We’ve all lost people. Don’t you think it is time to do something about it?

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