Look Back

A friend of mine from college died last month. Other people have done a much better job of writing about him, his life, and the people he left behind. You should really go read that instead.

Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun
-Roger Waters

I want to write of fire and rain, of carbon destroyed by the very pressures that briefly turned it into diamond, of supernovas and chaos, of disappointment and love. The truth is that my limitations as a writer make it impossible for me to do justice to the complex individual that was Matt Reagon.

Matt was chaotic and fabulous and terrible and brilliant and destructive and charming and arrogant. He was never invisible. He never swallowed his pride and he never tempered his rage because circumstances demanded he do so. He never took the easy way. He fought, even when fighting was ill-advised and he struggled with demons that most of us can barely imagine. There was never a middle ground, you loved him or hated him.

I thought I could just write down all my memories of Matt, in the hopes that a collage of experiences might allow glimpses into who he was
There was a brief period of time when we called him Pleasure Boy (his high school girlfriend had visited and written something on him and Zil had teased him saying she must have written “hands off, Matt is my pleasure boy”—or maybe she actually wrote that and Zil saw it, I can’t remember). Then we stopped because too many people started doing it and it felt wrong.

We saw the film, Damage, and found it to be pretty awful. At one point, Jeremy Irons, with perfect PoMo inarticulateness, choked out, “I’ve never felt” and Matt shouted out “An erection.” Immature, yes, but if you have ever seen the film, it actually rings true.

Matt, aware that I was afraid of rats, would chase me around the room trying to get me to pet Finnegan, Tracy's pet rat.
But really, these are just funny stories from when we were practically children, they don't really tell you anything about the man he grew up to become. Really, they just are about who we were back then, or maybe who we thought we were. Who was that? Tracy said it best when she said that we thought we were Bukowski. We thought we were living in 1930s Paris and we looked to Anais Nin and Henry Miller as role models for relationships. It never occurred to us how totally fucked up that sort of life could be. All we saw was the intensity, the brilliance, and thought that the real life lived by most people was boring.

And part of my problem is that so many of my memories are about Tracy and, maybe, the whole story of Matt, as far as I am concerned, is about Tracy. Because while I was friends with Matt, I didn’t connect to him the way I connected with Tracy and we might not have stayed friends after college except that he was married to Tracy. Even before their separation and subsequent divorce, my relationship with him had devolved to small talk if he happened to pick up the phone when I was calling her.

Fred says he can’t imagine a world without Matt in it. I thought it an odd thing to say, considering Matt has not really been a part of our lives for years, but the more I think about it, the more true it seems. In a way I can’t articulate, I never stopped being Matt’s friend and I hope he never stopped being mine. And the world seems a little more empty now.

I don't really think I can do him justice in words. So why am I here, pretending he is Seymour Glass and I am J.D. Salinger? Because I am remote, my loss is not concrete, so I must try to define it for you as I try to define it for myself. The truth is that I didn't know the man who lived and died in 2008, I am mourning the boy I knew years ago and our shared past. However, I can say the Matt I knew was restless and that didn't change, so I hope that Matt’s soul has found the peace he was not able to find in life.

Please note, Tracy created a website where people can go to remember Matt, read the obituaries, and see pictures of him and the non-traditional family. As she noted in the Reed obituary, Matt viewed the creation of this family as his great accomplishment in life.


christine72 said…
You wrote the words that I would have, if I were a blogger. Ironically, I just learned yesterday of Matt's death- and it shook me to my core. He and I graduated high school together; performed together in our senior play, attended a summer scholars program together, I visited him and Tracy in Portland a few times...I dated his younger brother, Mike, for a long time in our late teens and early twenties. I miss them both so much. I always looked up to Matt as the dark, complicated, brilliant guy who I could never be interesting enough to entice. My loss, too, is remote. As you wrote, I mourn the boy I knew, rather than the man who died last month. I hadn't spoken to him in about ten years. Somehow, though, my world is still shattered. Christine
alimum said…

Thanks for your comments. I think I may have met you at Matt and Tracy's wedding years ago, sitting in the back yard at Matt's parent's house, talking about the night sky.

Please feel free to email me if you want to talk some more or if you would like to contact Tracy. I am sure she would love to hear from you.

alimum said…
Here is Tracy's Blog, for Christine and anyone else who may be interested

VFR'ing said…
I've lost track of how many times I've visited this site to read and re-read your words over the past 8 or 9 months. Thank you for sharing your memories and for giving a place for my memories to visit with your's from time to time.
Bill Reagon

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