R.I.P., Bud Fairy
When I first moved to the Bay Area, I possessed three powerful charms:
- a certain amount of courage (borne of naivete – I had no idea what I was getting into)
- a faith that things were simply going to work out, and
- a not-insignificant amount of luck surrounding a few distinct events.
Upon landing here, one of the first tasks I set out for myself was to obtain access to email (email was far more important than the web, which was a pale shadow of what it would become). Back then, San Francisco’s coffee houses were home to several hand-built “net” tables that would dial into a specific BBS: SF Net, the Coffee-House Network, which had email that connected outside. Anyone – and I mean anyone – could sit down at one of these keyboard, plunk a quarter into the slot, and connect to the BBS for 5 minutes.
Think about that for a moment.
Anyone could log in from any cafe (or from home; there were dial-up numbers), and, for less money than a newspaper, enter a chat room and communicate with other people – others who, like themselves, had just dropped in a quarter. This had the (perhaps intended) result of connecting the strangest bed-fellows: students, artists, musicians, lawyers, junkies, teachers, homemakers, retirees, nerds, hippies, religious nuts, the homeless – anyone.
No one could judge you by your dress or your hair. Only by your words and your “handle” – the nickname that appeared on the screen (mine was “jormungandr”).
It was a bizzare community and if it hadn’t existed, if I hadn’t found it (or, maybe, if it hadn’t found me), my life would have likely taken a far different path.
I made several friends early in that period. These were chaotic times but the bonds we had were strong – even between people who were polar opposites of one another.
I was, for lack of a better word, adopted by a few individuals: people who looked out for me, taught me not to be such a chump, to watch out for the big city. They each had their own motivations, I’m certain, but in the end it amounts to the same. I had several gaurdian angels.
One of these was a woman named Jane Weirick who went by the nom de guerre “Bud Fairy.” Jane was about 10 years older than me and had a young daughter (who was about 10 years younger than me). She lived in Hayward and it was she who hooked me up with my first apartment.
Back then, Jane acted as my bigger sister.
She died in her sleep yesterday at the age of 45.
When the busted-ass car I drove out in needed to get registered in California, we all knew it wasn’t going to pass smog. I was at a loss, so Jane and I took the car up to Marin, to a garage where a guy she knew worked. She bribed the guy with an ounce of pot and he passed the car without even checking it.
One year she dressed up as me for halloween. She got a wig of long, stringy hair, a Slayer t-shirt, and a flannel (I was still in the grunge phase at the time) and showed up to the part (at Brainwash) and just called everyone “fucker” all night long. I never really told her how much that tickled me – it was flattering that someone thought I was good enough, recognizable enough, to masquerade as.
The number of cook-outs we had at her place dwarf memory. We used to go to the drive-in – a whole pack of us – in Union City, loaded down with fireworks, picnic fixings, and beer.
She was the original Minister of Misinformation, Rumor, and Innuendo for EvilPeople, INC.(tm).
When my lungs failed on me, she was one of the first in line to get me to the hospital. When the meds weren’t working, she set up deals to trade marijuana for morphine. When I threw a party once and didn’t have time to clean up, she came over and helped.
When I sobered up, she was one of those who held my hand, brought me food, kept me company.
I was present when a guy I was living with beat her up. I didn’t try to stop him; I just heard it – and to this day I regret not caving in his skull.
We eventually drifted apart. My life had become more associated with my work: I was meeting new people, making new friends. SF Net, the primary focus of our friendship, was dying. She, too, had work that took up her time (she was a heavy advocate in the legalization of marijuana in California and ran several programs for chemo patients). I was trying to stay sober, and because of that was cutting ties to older parts of my life – including her.
Who knows what started it. A slight (real or imagined, and now forgotten)? From who against who? It doesn’t matter. The mechanics of the death of a friendship are never simple and rarely black and white. In the end, I had become a type of elitist (at least, that was the brush I was painted with). Is the appellation true? I don’t know. Does it matter? Again, I don’t know.
I do know that I could no longer associate with her or the others that were in that group. Many were addicts, most were drunks. Jane’s primary causis belli – the legalization of marijuana – was, despite my own politics, at odds with my personal goals. Years later, when my brain was sorted out, it was too late.
Our last interaction was at the wake for my friend Paul, ne’ Old Mole. I was in a poor spot, mentally, unwilling to deal with people. I felt that she wasn’t respecting Paul and wsa instead focusing on her own impending wedding and told her so. I was a jackass: I should have congratulated her, wished her well, taken some measure of comfort in the fact that people were living and not simply dying.
I never told her that I loved her. I did, too – not any sexual way, our relationship wasn’t about that – and I like to think, now, that she knew that, despite the differences that manifested in later years.
I have nothing more to say. My estranged sister is dead.