New York – July 30,2015
Colin Quinn was speaking in Bryant Park today in New York.
I went to school with him way back when. I didn’t know whether he would recognize me, though we had been friends. But I went to see him just the same.
After he was done talking about his book, The Coloring Book, he asked for questions.
I stood up and raised my hand.
He told the woman who was passing the microphone to members of the audience, to give it to me.
“That guy has a question,” he said, “The one who looks like an assassin.”
People laughed. He thought I looked like an assassin.
I said, “Hey, I’m Adam and we went to school together, just wanted to say hi.”
“Don’t you have a question?” He asked.
“OK, do you remember me?”
“Of course, I do, I was with you when we found out that John Lennon was shot. You don’t remember that, I could see it on your face, but I do.” He said.
I smiled but he was right. I didn’t remember we were together. I just remembered that John Lennon was gone. I went up to him after the performance and we talked.
“You took a genetics course. We all looked at you like you were crazy. Genetics? What the fuck!” He laughed warmly.
I didn’t remember that conversation either. I did not remember much of my life at that time. Blocked it out. Buried it. Crushed it. I guess I did not like myself then. Don’t know if I like myself any better now.
But Colin remembered. Colin Quinn. A man that I knew thirty years ago, reminded me who I was, when I had forgotten.
I think that is the value of friendship, not agreeing with you, not even having your back. A friend reminds you who you are.
“Remember that time you borrowed your dad’s car and totaled it?”
“Remember when you ditched your girlfriend to make out with that hot new chick?”
“Remember when you were so drunk, you slept through your final exam?”
I think of old people. A couple who have been together for fifty years. Suddenly, one dies. Within a few months, the other one dies as well. Maybe it is because the survivor forgets who she was. No one is there to remind her.
I used to visit a friend in an old age home. Walking past open doors to rooms where the residents were just lying in bed, never getting up, never moving. No one visits. Once a month, maybe, the daughter reluctantly appears. He opens his eyes and doesn’t recognize his own child, it has been so long since her last visit and he has forgotten who he was. He forgot he was a father. He forgot he was a husband. He forgot he had a life because no one was around to remind him. Just nurses who don’t care and other patients who are forgetting their own lives.
I don’t know whether any of this is true but it could be. Once we have no one left to remind us of our life, our existence, our value to others, we cease to have value to ourselves.
So thank you, Colin. You made me remember. I’ll see you again sometime, hopefully sooner than another thirty years. We will talk about old times, and I will tell you of the story of two friends who met in Bryant Park one day and how one was reminded of his college days and the true value of friendship.