If this is it…

Warning! This is NOT a suicide note. My sister says it sounds like one, so I am putting a disclaimer on this post right now. It’s NOT NOT NOT a suicide note. I was just thinking, the other night, about, well, what if I was in one of the rare plane crashes that do occasionally happen. Is there anything I would like not to leave unsaid? I think it’s a little silly how we go about in life not saying things we want to say, so I wrote all the things that came to mind into this post. And there you have it.

I don’t expect my plane will crash, even. It’s more an exercise in just, well, finally saying things I ought to say to people all around me. While being too busy and far away to say it in person. So… there you have it.

NOT a suicide note. Seriously!

Remember that silly hyperdramatic song by Huey Lewis? The one that went, “If this is it… please bla bla bla…” I can’t actually remember more of the lyrics, whether it was “please tell me now,” or “please let me go”, but I don’t suppose it matters.

I write this title for two reasons: firstly, because this may or may not be my last post before departing for Delhi. I may or may not make it to Seoul tomorrow, depending, and thus may or may not have time to post more… and I have a sense that this post should count for something. So I’m going to try make this one count for a lot…

But there’s also a second meaning. Of course I know that planes don’t really crash very often… that my chances of being in a plane crash are very very slim. Yet I still react the same way when I get into a plane that I used to when I was a kid: I get all jittery and laugh a little too much. My mom commented on this when I was a kid, and my dad correctly told her it was nerves. I’m quieter now, in adulthood, and I keep a lot of the freaky laughter inside now, but I still have that weird, ohmigod feeling when I am in a plane taking off, or look out the window and see the world, huge and strange, spinning below me.

Yes, the plane likely won’t crash, but you know, if this is it… it’s a useful exercise, isn’t it, in knowing what kinds of things you don’t say to people all that often, but which lie deepest in your heart when you consider them. So in the spirit of that song, by whom I’m not sure, but the one that goes, “One of these days, I’m gonna write a long letter… to everyone I know…”, I am writing my If This Is It post. And if I miss you, my apologies. I’m digging through my mind, but of course as in any act of writing, some things just get lost. Even people I care very much about.

So with the risk of embarrassing omission bright in my mind, here we go.

Mum, Dad, I love you. Thanks for everything and when you think of me, think of the kids I taught in my silliest voice, so that they could have a fun hour out of their day. Think of the novels I might have written, and know they would have been good. Imagine the grandkids I might have given you, and how much of how I would have loved them was what I learned from you. Thank you for all the time you gave me, even the time I wasted in my silliness. I appreciated all that hard work that you did, all the small tasks and the driving to concerts and clapping and telling us we sounded good when we sounded like hell. I know because of you that love is a practical thing, something shown in the world of food and favours and chores and listening and helping lift something. I’m so proud of you both. You’ve done what life is all about, really. You’ve done well. The lessons I’ve learned from you are too many to count, but I can sum it up in the first thing I said to you. I love you.

Marie and Troy: You guys rock. I’m proud of you guys, too, because you are living the lessons we learned from Mum and Dad… deep in my heart I want to live a life like yours someday, too… different in some ways, sure, but at the heart of it like yours in all the ways that matter. Please don’t name any of the kids Gordon, please no, that’d be horrible, but please retrieve my saxes from Shawn, who lives down the hall from my apartment, and give them to your kid and tell him or her about Uncle Gord once in a while.

Annie: You know, I saw a picture of you and Martin together for the first time the other day. You look so happy, and it made me happy for you. Keep on fighting the good fight, because not enough people are. I’m proud of you for it. You’ll make as much change as you can.

Michael Babb: I miss you. Thanks for all of the time, for shaking up my musical world and my imagination. I admire you so much, I can’t really express it.

To John Goranson: Sorry we grew apart. I don’t think there’s anything to be done for it. But I don’t think of you badly now. Honest. Take care.

Charlie: Thank you for carrying me out of hell on your back. I owe so much to you. You are one of the finest human beings I know, and the first person I ever missed without ever having met face-to-face. If we never have a beer together, I feel ripped off. That’s not how the story is supposed to go, dammit. Thank you for everything, thank you for you. And… I miss you, too.

To my writer friends in Saskatoon and Montreal: Guys, all of those ideas. They’ve been with me all the way along. The ideas, the scars, the promises and the trust and hope for one another that we have all shared.

To Dee: If it seems to you I’ve forgotten you, don’t imagine it for an instant. I still wonder how you are doing. I still remember you helping me out of hell alongside young Bell. I am endlessly thankful for it. If there’s a Korean word I would use for you, it would be Nuna (elder sister). It’s a word full of depth and respect and something vaguely sweet.

To Adam and the other Friday Fivers, and especially Marvin: It’s so good to feel part of a community, to have my mind challenged, to have my ideas questioned, or just to have someone pop by and comment loudly on something.

To Helen: To have put up with me so long, through so many mad mistakes and so many complaints and emergencies, amazes me. And to respect and care for me after seeing the weakest and most foolish parts of me is something I can never thank you enough for. Please never let anyone treat you like less than gold…

To Jack: With you I was finally one of the guys, even if I didn’t know who Stereolab was and I had a hankering for troubadour verse. For all the fine whiskey, the glorious rants, the books loaned because I simply had to read them, the drunken nights and drunken movies and for the thing that is the opposite of aloneness, thank you, Jack.

To Vera: Write that book that you have hidden in your deepest recesses. It’s worth it. Thanks, my funny American ajuma friend. You’re one of a kind.

Kat: For hours of listening (well, reading) my silly rants and whining, for being deadly honest, for being a friend, I can only thank you. Write the sf novel to end all sf novels. And go live in Canada. Trust me, you’ll like it…

To Jessie: Jess, Jess, Jess. You know, the only reason I didn’t develop a crush on you after we first met was because someone mistakenly told me you were a lesbian… can you believe it? Maybe it was the no-hair thing. But I think you’ll agree we’re both better off that it went that way… that woulda been, well, yeah, I think you and I agree it’s much better this way. So much beer, philosophy, knowledge, and my first (and last) cigarette(s). You were maybe the first person who made me realize we didn’t need to be philosophy majors to work at the most important questions in the world. Oh, and I’m still sorry I broke your futon.

To Joleen: You’re the best roommate I ever had. I remember Coffee Time with great fondness. And thank you so much for sending me packing over to Korea. Best thing anyone could have done for me at the time. Set me on this fine path I’ve been on. Unlike with my sister, I want you to name something after me. A stuffed chicken or a stuffed monkey or something absurd and appropriate. Okay? Thanks!

To Young Ja: Vivid in my memory are those nights when we talked in the kitchen, each of us with our own questions and fears and hopes. I think we were there for one another in a way that many friends never have a chance to be. I worry about you sometimes, you know. But I know you’re a smart cookie. Just never compromise what you need. And dammit, keep swimming, you! If there’s an image of friendship in my mind, it’s someone who wakes up early on Sunday morning because she promised to go swimming with you. Simple, wonderful. That’s you.

To John Wendel: Please never stop ranting about this or that book, this or that idea. Always take umbrage, and always find a way to say something. Careful of those Achilles Heels that you share with me: liquor and women… they’re delicious, I know, but they are dangerous too. Please outdo Graham Greene, okay? You have to if I am not around to do it. And yeah, fuck Hemingway.

To Min Jung: I still can’t speak Korean, but I appreciate all the time you spent trying to teach me. You’re a good friend. Good luck with White Face Man.

Kimberley: You rock, woman. You got the best guy in Korea for a husband. You got a giving heart. You got You got spunk, and I respect you through and through. Thanks for your help, but also for rocking the way you do. Congratulations to you and Chai. I know you will do well together.

To Myoung, Thai, and Seong Hwan: Guys, you may or may not know, but the band has been a lifeline for me at many times. Going up on stage and cranking out a bunch of sax solos in C has been more than it sounds like: it’s been a project, yes, but also a way of learning a lot about myself. I’m proud to have done it with you guys. And the YMCA song NEEDS sax harmonies, not just one horn line. Please?!? And do the arpeggios on keyboards the first time, and one sax track plus keyboards the second time. It’ll sound better that way. Thanks.

To Hadden: Supposing you’re right about this Buddhism stuff… see you next time around. If not: thanks for opening my eyes and for enticing me to India. Even just having the trip in my mind as something coming was of immeasurable importance in my growth.

To Mer: Thanks for keeping me sane in the office. But please, stop trying to make people join the underpants pyramid scheme. It scares us.

To Shawn and Young Hyun: Guys… I don’t think you need to take care of my place anymore. But thanks. And for the breakfast, and for making me laugh and having an open door… it means much more than it seems, and you know, it tells you a lot about a person. Good things.

To Ritu: Ah, my Indo-Ajuma friend. The hospitality with which you decided to open your home to me is stunning and wonderful. I do hope this Kochu Jang reaches you and Shin Ramen reaches you…

And finally… Sun Hwa: You deserve to travel the world until you find the perfect place so you can settle there… and I hope you do someday.

Gord in a jazz club. Photo by Sun Hwa Jang.

PS: One more thing: a pic of me from Sunday night, at the Chunnyun Dongando jazz club. Thanks for the pic.

Wow. That was exhausting. I’m going to watch a film I downloaded last week, and then go to sleep.

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