Josey Rose Duncan

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Tribute: to chelsea on the 6-month anniversary of the ghost ship fire



here are three ways you being gone has changed the chemical makeup of me in 6 months:

  1. i used to be afraid to read at literary readings and now im not. it sounds like a lie but it isn’t. all relationships distill down to the mythology behind them, anyways: childhood best friends. quarter century of being nerds and dorks and artists and weirdos and rejects and not and lovers and fighters and melted into one person and barely speaking and bleeding and crying and laughing and drinking this new cocktail you just learned about at your current favorite bar on valencia and rolling our eyes at the world and searching the sky for shooting stars-friends. 25 years of ebb and flow-friends. josey is my oldest friend / not oldest as in old / the one ive known the longest-friends. your family is my family-friends. our fable our fairy tale our sad short-short starts in the 3rd grade: the tall musical prodigy, the anxious writer with red-rimmed glasses. and we grew and grew (I mean “they” did). and they stayed who they were (friends). i have not been shy since middle school but I could only stand to read my work out loud to walls and cats I was so scared and hated everything about it, the performance. “they” (everyone, well-meaning, those who know, us who grieve, who mourn, who’ve travelled, who’ve screamed at the empty space where you our loves left gaping voids in our bodies). “THEY” say no one is ever really gone and I believe it: when you left, when you left us (why) I think I swallowed some of your atoms. maybe you gave them to me. maybe I asked, don’t remember asking. we recite a dream from one of your journals. we are playing out now, a scene, we are showing them your future-past lives. CHELSEA FAITH: GUESS WHAT? I can read now! to people! and it’s not scary. thank you for lending me your voice for three and six and eight minutes at a mic so I can be who you knew I could (be).
  2. …but the embarrassing thing is i cry every morning in the shower. you hate personal essays, this isn’t one, maybe a whisper too confessional for your taste, but im sure you’ll stop me if you need to. my theory is that water makes water. maybe this is the practical, virgo part (of you, in me now). [maybe I should try swimming again, even though ive always flailed like a loser in pools and stayed on the blanket on the shore with the bottle of wine to watch eveyones’ shit while they frolic and talk about how awesome the lake is on the hot day.] maybe you gave me water. grace and faith under waves. when does it end, i wonder, the water-water-tears. and what will i do the day i don’t just start crying in the shower?
  3. i have always been and always will be one month and one day older than you. so this is weird but remember how you were (are) so brilliant at finding the strangest videos of like, a guy singing badly in a car or something that I can’t make not sound lame, but was really actually so funny and clever and touching cause you always cared the most and at some point he sang or maybe there were titles along the bottom in some cheesy-ass font like, “josey” or “birthday” or “happy” and you’d post it on my wall and—ok here’s the weird thing that’s not that weird—i used to treat facebook happy birthdays like a goddamn morning ritual, like, coffee + shower (now cry-shower) + facebook birthday greetings. to everyone whether i know you or not. and now i just can’t, like it almost hurts or something or my hands don’t move that way anymore, except once in a while they emerge from wet sand, shell-shed away lead from knuckles and then i can type and i do the minimum. but mostly i don’t do facebook birthdays anymore and im just wondering—what that’s all about?

so these are three things i wanted to share because i thought you might think they were funny or they might make you proud of me. and i don’t know how else to really show you cause i talk to you a lot when im alone (i mean, when WE are) but this feels more like, special. to post it somewhere and be vulnerable cause life is short, dude.

anyways, we all miss you a lot and it still hurts to breathe sometimes. especially today.