Gary, somewhere in the hills overlooking Florence. He has climbed a wall to take some pictures. If I recall correctly, this one surrounds a graveyard.
I found out late last night that my dear friend had died. I don't have the details yet. But, in the mean time, for myself, I want to write about him.
I first met Gary in 1978, probably December. My father had invited all the students headed to Greece with him, in January, over to the house. I don't remember much of that. I'm not sure I even remember Gary, specifically, but I do have a vague sense of his good humor being present that night. And someone tall.
Gary became my best friend on that trip and in the years that followed. He was one of my roommates in Athens. He broke the key, I think, when we checked in. Back in those days, Gary was as picky of an eater as I was. We lived on Cokes and chocolate bars, and souvlaki. We went off to explore Athens together, as well as Corinth, Naplia (where we strolled through the cacti), Mycanae, Olympia, Delphi and an island or two.
We played tennis, wiffle ball and golf. Biked. Made some movies. And in 1980 I went on another interim trip, although I had graduated in the spring of 1979, to Italy, France and the Netherlands. This trip we came equipped with games (Uno, electronic football) and props (chattering teeth, the main one). And we invented Slap Everything -- Slap Jack, except every card had an action to be performed. In short, we annoyed the hell out of everyone.
That was it for the interims, but the next year we made our movie -- about being stuck in Minnesota for the winter of 1981. We had fun. I'm not sure anyone who watched it did, but we did.
And then we grew up. Or Gary did, at least. He ended up teaching at Macalester and travelling to Cuba and then China for his ceramics. I saw less and less of him, but did keep in touch. Occasionally we would play golf, although the tennis went the way of our youth.
There's other stuff, of course. But most of it is too embarrassing to write. For me, anyhow.
What I most wanted to say is that I loved the guy. I never told him that, but I am telling him now. I hope he hears me, somehow. I already miss him more than I can say. He was a major part of some of the very best moments of my life.