First, for friends checking in for funeral information, I still don't have any firm dates or times as of Christmas night. I promise I'll post information the second I have it.
Driving home in the rain tonight, I mindlessly cruised past the exit I was supposed to take go home; missed it by about ten miles, in fact, before I came out of my memory fog and realized I was pretty far off course. I was, of course, lost in memories of Greg and one of those memories, ironically, involved missing an exit on the highway. Almost twenty years ago, when we lived together in Asheville, Greg had been driving on the interstate as we headed home one evening. We were arguing about something or other, and in the heat of the argument, Greg drove past our exit. I noticed, but didn't say anything. About two exits later, he realized he'd screwed up, and took the next exit to turn around. I told him I'd wondered why he hadn't taken our normal exit. He asked, exasperated, "If you saw that I was going to mix the exit, why didn't you say anything?" I shrugged and said, "I trusted you had a destination in mind. I figured you knew what you were doing."
And, for twenty-five years, I was able to maintain that trust, despite a lot of external evidence that Greg didn't know what the hell he was doing on just about everything in life. I watched as he'd churn through bad jobs and unhealthy relationships, and more than once I gave him some grief about his seeming lack of direction in life. Yet, beneath it all, I always had a rock solid faith that Greg knew what he was doing. He had a vision of life as it should be lived, but somehow never quite managed to put it all together. Greg was born about twenty years too late; he was, in many ways, a child of the sixties. I think in his perfect life, he would have lived in a VW microbus, following the Greatful Dead, selling tye-died tee shirts and bootleg Bob Dylan albums.
Over the years I knew him, he engaged in just about every art form you can name. He wrote poetry, short stories, plays, and a fair chunk of a novel. He painted portraits of men he admired, played guitar, and once recorded a tape full of his own folk music, a tape I have sadly lost long ago. He was an eternal critic of the society he lived in. I met him when he was full of indignation about Reagan. He had fits under Bush 1. And, in case you think he just hated republicans, he disliked Clinton enough to actually leave the democratic party and declare himself a communist (though he did come back around to defending Clinton once the right wing tried to impeach him). His rants against Bush Junior were works of art, and he was well on his way toward branding Obama as a right-winger in disguise. But, his frustrations with politicians was matched by his puzzlement of his fellow citizens. He couldn't understand how so many people were simply disengaged from politics, or how such a high percentage of those who did bother to get involved could do so at such a shallow, sound-bite driven level.
You might think I'm describing someone who was bitter or angry; in truth, there has seldom been anyone in this world more laid back and friendly. Greg could easily fall into conversation with almost anyone. Unlike me, he had interests outside of politics, and could discuss sports and movies with an ease that always eluded me. I saw Greg get angry about politics, but I never saw him lose his temper under every day circumstances. A natural storyteller, I think he simply catalogued his daily frustrations to turn them into funny stories later on.
I happen to have taken part in some of those funny stories; I promise to share a few soon.