Sunday, February 13, 2011

City Link Magazine Starts a Monthly Lip Service Column

I wrote a piece called Kelly Cook for myself, which is why I write anything.  I had no idea I'd edit it into something to be performed in front of a crowd, a piece called We Are More Than These Pale Shells.  Further, I never imagined Lip Service would get together with City Link, re-edit the piece for print, couple it with some amazing artwork, and publish it again as Past the Flesh.

Re-reading it as Past the Flesh, I'm proud of my work and grateful for the opportunity to reach such a wide readership, but it's not the tribute to Kelly I had intended.  Trying to come up with one makes me realize it's impossible.  

In this picture, Kelly's emitting the laugh I mention in every version of the piece.  I had several pictures to choose from, and in every one of them she's laughing or smiling, and all eyes are on her (here I cropped my high school girlfriend and a boy whose name escapes me; both were staring at Kelly, laughing right along with her).  That laugh embodies Kelly.  When I close my eyes and imagine hearing it, I smile at the same time I'm missing her.

Hearing Kelly's laugh made you forget there was pain in the world. 

Given how prone the rest of us can be to whining about our lives, obsessing over slights imagined and real, wishing we had more and better, a person like Kelly holds the mirror to that behavior.  What right do I have to be miserable when my friend with cystic fribrosis is always happy?  How could someone so delicate be so filled with life? 

We'll never know if she would have been an accomplished artist, but she was certainly talented enough to stand out at our small school.  Kelly was kind to her friends, generous with her time and attention, and a joy to be around.   
The printed version of City Link’s table of contents was topped with Kelly’s words: “God, you’re such an asshole.  Can’t you just be happy?”  When she said that to me, it was probably the only time I saw her upset.  
I’d love it if I could say that I always look on the bright side of life because of her, but it’s a lesson I running into in one form or another again and again.  
I can say she the first teacher person who taught me that lesson, and I was lucky to know her.  

I wish I’d treated her better.

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