Tuesday, December 06, 2005

My friend is gone.

Two weeks ago my friend Mark Seiler killed himself. If you knew him, I am very sorry if this is how you're finding out. There is a very nice memorial at his lsds page and you are welcome to email me.

I met Mark when I was 15, but we didn't meet in person till about a year later. I guess in that respect he was a precursor to my internet friendships. We communicated exclusively by letters (all handwritten) during that first year, when he was at a prison school for troubled teenagers in Poland Spring, Maine. (It wasn't actually a prison, but that is how I saw it through Mark's eyes. And the reality is that he wasn't there by choice and wasn't allowed to leave.) I think he'd already tried to kill himself at that point, possibly (my memory is very hazy) by hanging himself. Our mutual friend Tem had put us in touch to begin with.

We finally met in person at Earthsong, a Powell House conference that includes the graduation ceremony for high school seniors. Mark graduated that year, so I am guessing it was 1995. The following winter we recorded some music on a four-track in his parents' basement in New Jersey. Only one song came out well (the others were my fault) - a cover of The Cure's "Three Imaginary Boys" with me singing and Mark on everything else. In recent years Mark apparently got many requests for it in his work as a DJ.

Mark and I painted our fingernails blue together one weekend, and from then on he was never without blue nail polish. Mark liked hugs and gave them to everyone. He wished me a Happy Thursday every week for a long time. Over the last five years or so it might only be once a year, but I was always glad to hear from him. I didn't always write back, though, and now I feel regret over that.

Mark was a vegetarian but not a very good one. He ate mostly peanut butter and jelly, and salsa from the big jars he'd buy when I took him to Sam's Club, and breakfast food at diners; he always got the same as me - two eggs, scrambled, home fries, and toast (but his toast was white while mine was wheat or rye), and he drowned everything in ketchup because he thought it was a vegetable. He exercised by jumping up and down and I was always waiting for the day he'd come down with debilitating shin splints.

Over the last five years Mark and I grew apart. As I struggled through living in Chicago, then moving here and getting married and everything, he finished school in Maine and became a very successful DJ. He was already a talented musician and had recorded an album called "Book Of Dreams" that showed his incredible talent in electronica. My understanding is that he just kept getting better.

Mark liked giving presents and he loved people, but he was never good at accepting help. He could be picky and demanding and frustrating. He was usually depressed at some level or another.

I always thought he'd take his life. Always. But when thirteen years had passed and he hadn't, it came as a shock. And no matter when it had happened, it would have broken my heart - and it has. I miss him.