Michael Lebowitz remembers a friend with dignity, respect, honour and honesty.
She is not young anymore. One gets the impression that even when she was young she was not youthful, given to enthusiasm and giggling. The office politics of her place of work were more and more like her dining room table in her childhood home. There was yelling but far worse was the subterfuge, the jockeying for position, grant money and office windows, trips to Germany and other such – this was bloodsport and damn near killed her.
She took up a lover. He showed up nightly in a liter sized, soon to be gallon sized bottle of cheap red. He stayed nearly all night. The days passed into night, the years slid by, a parade of tears and silence, ending in the grey uncertainty of the next dawn.
That morning she talked about how sometimes the thought of taking herself out came back to her. How odd, how final the phrase sounded coming from this quiet mouse of woman. She wasn’t built that way of course, she said. But she thought she understood it. There were scarves to knit and cakes to bake, everyone has something don’t they? Still, there is longing and fear, a bravado that belongs mostly to those who have fallen off the map. Her hands fly with surgical skill, the tapestries of her day emerge. She speaks slowly today, with what might even be amusement, at the thought of other people doing themselves in. As if. She asks one of the local musicians in the room if he has ever recorded an album he often jokes about, Songs to Hang Myself By. I’m working on it, he says, his voice getting lost in the uncomfortable laughter that starts and trails away. Almost as if it is only a matter of time, he seems to be saying.
This exchange came back to me earlier today when it became clear that it had been only a matter of time.
RIP JP Scofield
Photos By Michael Lebowitz – All Rights Reserved