Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Writing about Dead People

I was out to breakfast with my brother-in-law, who told me he really liked my latest Hevria piece. I thanked him, then immediately regretted it, because how do you thank someone for memories that aren't yours? This is how it goes.

The Friend I Never Called

BY   JUNE 19, 2018  ESSAY
I steal names. You should know this, first of all, if you want to be friends with me (or friends of friends, or one-night drinking buddies, or if you just wanna ask me about my weird hair). If you have a good name, or a strange name, or a musical name, I might swipe it and stick it in a story.
Alexandra Blitman didn’t just have a name that stuck in my head like a song, but she was a person who did. She was the first person I knew who played cello — before her, the only actual cellist I knew about was the Slovakian cellist in the James Bond movie The Living Daylightswhich my dad let me see with him when I was 9.
So I’m writing a story about a kid named Alex who’s a boy, and his best-friend-who-he-maybe-has-a-crush-on, also named Alix, who’s a girl, and I used real-life Alex’s name. Two strong trochees that might rhyme even though they mostly don’t. And Alex herself — she’s one of these people I always meant to keep up with and never did, and the few times I searched her nothing came up.
Then, last night, this did.
I tell stories for a living, and know that each is more than its headline. But Alexandra Blitman’s feels different:
I met her when we were kids, and we graduated from middle and high school together. We weren’t close, but we were friendly. Alex was friendly with everyone, though — a bright, free spirit whose genuine enthusiasm for life drew all of us to her, the straight arrows and the skaters and the jocks and everyone in between.
She died March 7, days after overdosing on heroin. She was 38.
Read the rest of my post here, or read the original article that inspired my piece.


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