Today the world ended and was reborn in an instant, out of the sheetrock and neatly filed papers, let loose in the sky, all those things that no longer seem important.
On TV, the path of a jet from Boston is traced out, over the ponds and streams and mountains and lakes where I was born, over the Berkshire Connector, over the road to Montreal.
Banking swiftly into a straight line with that feeling you get when history is ripped free of itself and the universe that had been falls away.
What we feel in the pit of our stomach, when a tsunami breaks in the quantum foam, when the underlying connections are ripped clean for an instant. And the true humanity of it all is made plain by an exodus of human beings, people walking calmly and quietly, hand in hand, helping the injured, making their way together across the bridge of time.
In memory of those who fell
And the universe they carried with them
I met Carl when I was working as a systems programmer on the “Directory and Authentication” team at The University of Iowa. It was the summer that the Iowa River overflowed its banks and we hauled computers up the hill from the Lindquist Center to higher ground. We had all relocated (permanently, as it turned out) from our old offices in that 1970s brutalist concrete bunker up to the formerly “dead mall” up the hill. My new office was a cubicle perched atop a piece of steel plate covering the old escalator shaft on the second floor of what had been JC Penneys. You could feel the steel flex when you walked on top of it.
Part of our task at this job was to do provisioning of enterprise services. Occasionally some new person who needed early access to things would get flagged and we’d create their HawkID ahead of time and pre-provision access to groups by sticking override codes in our provisioning database. Carl was such a person – a senior IT security administrator – and I was on-call that week so I got to provision his early access. The day he arrived, something told me he’d be a cool dude, and I always wanted to make good impressions on the IT security folks. I walked his username and initial password over to him directly. He was really happy with that and we became friends immediately. We were the ‘vintage 1978’ dudes.
Over the years, I took many long walks at lunch time or in the afternoon with him. We’d IM each other and if something at work was pissing us off, we’d say ‘fuck it’ and go for a walk and talk. That always helped us both. When I moved away from Iowa City we drifted apart over the years. We’d IM occasionally and he’d share his pics from his trips to Japan and Scotland. I didn’t go back to Iowa City for a long time. The last time we saw each other was probably three years ago.
This afternoon I got a text from a friend who worked with him: I should call back, urgently. I called him and he gave me the news that Carl had been found dead in a park this morning. Five minutes later another friend called to give me the same news. I felt my heart drop into my feet. I felt dizzy and disconnected from reality. I still feel that way. I will probably feel that way for days. Life is too short and too precious. That seems like a cliché, but it is not. Take the time to connect with dear people and to live each moment – we don’t have that many of either. Here’s to you, my friend. Safe travels beyond the gray curtain. *hugs*
Hopefully I won’t just ignore these.
- Listen to my body when it tells me something is wrong
- Listen to my wife more
- Live in a place that makes me happy
- Spend more time with friends and family
- Watch Blazing Saddles and Caddyshack
- Lose 35 lbs
- Hike a 14-er
I REALLY want to like “Halt and Catch Fire,” but the endless cute in references like characters named “Gordon Clark” and “Cameron Howe,” and “Computers aren’t the thing, they’re the thing that gets us to the thing” are extremely distracting. Come on guys, you have a good script. Just go totally original and stop snickering at your own cleverness.