April 12, 2010

We’re in our twenties. We shouldn’t be dying. I’m writing about this because I don’t really know what else to do, and it is the only way I can think to process this. I could recount the innumerable moments of hilarity I experienced in Mark’s presence, but the overriding memory I have of him is of a deeply thoughtful, engaged person. The quiet moments stand out most to me, one in particular.

Picture northwest Iowa in November. No snow, but cold; a clear sky; just enough wind to make your back tighten up. Returning from a walk, I heard a trumpet cutting through the wind. Not recognizing the licks, I realized it was someone outside playing. And there, on the porch of the English building, was Mark, slowly improvising runs that perfectly matched the night. I walked up, sat, and listened for another twenty minutes or so. By the end his trumpet was dripping with condensation from his breath despite the cold. After he was done we talked about the existential implications of the blues; what did it mean to have that in you? We finally walked back to the dorm when neither of us could feel our toes anymore.

A longstanding friendly argument between the two of us was a question of the most influential jazz musician. Mark backed Louis Armstrong; I backed Miles Davis. We could, and did, go for hours discussing the merits of the two greats and their positions relative to each other.

Shifty, I concede.


2 Responses to “Shifty”

  1. He sounds like someone I would have enjoyed getting to know.

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