A dream, first raging, goes silent; like a light, then goes out…regarding the death of a friend

How to explain? First, let me give you two bits of vocabulary so you can read the rest of this probably long post:

1. cave dweller: someone who enjoys prefers low light, especially as related to where conversations and tv watching take place

2. surface dweller: the happy folk who like bright daylight and function best in it

You heard it, didn’t you? A sound, carried on a southwest wind, that reminded you of plate glass smashing into dust. It came from southern California and it was my heart breaking last night. The tears didn’t truly come until this morning.

Now that I got that out of the way, let’s get to the story which began over 20 years ago.

I was a freshman at Rutgers and was struggling with all the surface dwellers. I had no friends there; I knew people but had no friends, no other cave dwellers with which to hide in cozy dark spaces. One day I was in psychology class and saw this person who looked, well, cool. I sorta kept an eye on him and one day he sat in my row (giggle, snort–sorry, it’s a freshman flashback thing…I think) in this big lecture hall. And how about this: one day while walking from class he caught up with me and we talked (giggle, snort–sorry, there I go again). We became fast friends and I finally had another cave dweller to spend time with. We ate pizza, hung out, and eventually joined forces at the college radio station, WRSU. His name was Don Buchanan and he was oh so much my most excellent friend. This was a Forest-Gump-peas-and-carrots kind of friendship. So often where you saw one of us in those days, the other wasn’t too far away. When I started at WRSU I was, like all newbies, on the overnight shift; Don worked nights and when he could he would call me, while he listened to my show. Now that’s a friend. He frustrated me because he was so smart; that psychology class was the first of many I would take since it was my major and he could ace the tests without studying–made me so mad and jealous. We would laugh about it. He was a great musician and in addition to the early band stuff he did, he managed to get a spot with one of New Brunswick’s favorite bands, the Mad Daddys.

Mad Daddys album cover

Mad Daddys album cover

See the fella under the hat, second from left leaning on the car door? That’s Don. Most of us wore leather jackets, regardless of the weather, because it’s what we did. He had a Thunderbird, which was one of my favorite cars then.

Life takes interesting turns. I got married the year after graduating from Rutgers; Don and I talked around Thanksgiving of that year and that was our last conversation. However, I never forgot my friend. Through everything–the death of my dad, the premature birth of my son, the various moves (from South River to Dover, DE, to Pennsylvania), the death of my first husband, more moves (from Pennsylvania to Salem County, NJ, and finally to southern California in 2007)–I never forgot Don. I tried here and there to find a connection to him online but never could. Periodically I would try, especially after marrying Christopher–I thought he’d like to know I wised up and married a musician, was happy–truly–for the first time in a very long time, and that I missed him still.

So here we are, in April 2009. I was online searching for some other stuff and happened across a MySpace page dedicated to the lead man of the Mad Daddys, Stinky Sonobuoni; while scanning the page eagerly, I saw this one small post, dated April 4, 2008: “Rest in peace, Don”.  A cracking began, and I searched the web more earnestly. I came to another WordPress blog by Iron Leg that told the story. I saw the photos, so I know he was talking about the Don I knew. The plate glass shattered then. I searched and found a brief comment in the Sentinel. It was tough to click on it because I didn’t want to believe it. It hurt too much.

It is selfish, but I admit my horrible humanity. I was tortured through the night with questions–if I had searched more earnestly, might it have made a difference? All those years of dreaming of seeing my friend again, the fleeting attempts to find him, to come to this. I was a year late and am emptied, broken, by it. I sit now, and view a late 80s performance at the Brighton Bar, and remember my friend. That’s him there, working the guitar. We were cool then, young and happy in our cave dwelling.

Pray for me but more importantly pray for my friend Don’s family.

Sunday, April 26th, 2009 Confessions of a Cave Dweller

2 Comments to A dream, first raging, goes silent; like a light, then goes out…regarding the death of a friend

  • […] I did get back in the music business during my undergraduate years. I was on-air as a disc jockey with our college radio station. It was the best experience of those four years. It was due to having met my most excellent friend, Don Buchanan, who was really a musician. We lost each other and when I found him again, it was too late. […]

  • […] Managed to get that resolved and had a new room mate by Halloween the first year. Had even made a friend, whom I loved dearly. But it was in that mist of euphoria (read: youthful and sheltered ignorance) […]

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