Friday, 25 January 2008
Thirty years ago I worked one or two days a week in a comic store, named Comic World. One day an American tourist walked in and I couldn’t help laughing. Blue hair, pink glasses, clothes that seem to have no relation whatsoever, and covered with buttons, dinosaurs, and other toys. I tried to explain to her my reaction (“You look like a parody on American tourists”) and we got in a long conversation that ended up in exchanging addresses. She flew home the next day, so I expected never to hear from her again. But a few weeks later I received a large box with cassette tapes and other goodies with the mail, some of which we had talked about in the comic shop. She really did a massive effort to surprise me, asking deejays to make tapes for me with new records, and recording all kind of records and tapes from local bands.
This was the beginning of a very pleasant and inspiring correspondence. Her name was Renee Edginton. Every now and then she called me, but making phone calls between L.A. and Amsterdam was expensive back then: I think it cost about six guilders per minute.
One night I discovered that the phone booth, at the corner of the street where I lived for a while, gave my coin back after a call. I made another call and again I got my coin back. I ran home to get my address book and spend a whole night calling friends in far away countries. It felt weird to be able to talk with Renee for so long under these weird circumstances, but it was again a confirmation that we liked each other.
Later she and her husband, Matthew Francis, stayed at our home two times. The last time there was some friction, because our life styles were not very compatible for a stay in one and a half room for two weeks. After that Renee and I only exchanged a handful of letters, and then she stopped answering my mail.
She was very busy with CNN, an organisation that gave clean needles to junkies, in order to slow down the spread of AIDS, and I had a busy life too, but it never felt good when thought about the situation. I even wrote her about that, but didn’t got a reaction.
Earlier this week my wife did a Google search for Renee and discovered that she and Matthew have died in a car accident in 1998.
My wife called me while I was painting, and told me the “news”. I have been living on the edge of tears for two days, and I still feel uncomfortable when I think of Renee. The fact that she and Matthew have been dead for a decade, while in my mind she was still alive, is strange and hard to accept.
I have problems with the fact that are always other people who die in my life. Ain’t that weird? The only person whose death I will never experience is me; I can only experience the death of other’s. Wouldn’t it be better if that was the other way around?
Here is a song from one of the tapes that Renee sent me in that first box. I have no idea who this are. But is an L.A rockabilly band.