Yeah, it’s been awhile. Truth is, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. I’ve decided that I hate April 14. That was the day my dear friend Peter passed away.
I’ve lived in Brooklyn for a while. I was born there, lived there until I was ten, and moved back when I was twenty-two and it seemed like a good idea. A lot of things seem like a good idea at twenty-two. I shared a place with some friends from the theater and a little ways down the block lived this guy… he was a big guy with long hair, a band, a scowl, and a penchant for wearing army uniforms from Eastern Bloc countries. He was kind of scary and most of the neighbors were a bit intimidated by him, but some said he was a pretty good guy. I got to find out one night when I was coming home from a night out.
I was a little drunk (OK, a lot drunk) and this guy I knew was walking me home (again, a lot of things seem like a good idea at twenty-two) We got to my place and he tried to kiss me. I said no. He said I owed him for walking him home. I said no again. He pushed me up against the door, put one hand over my mouth and attempted to grab my keys to open the door with the other. I couldn’t breath and I was scared to death. Suddenly, out of nowhere, someone grabbed this guy and pulled him off me. I swear, I think the guy flew. All I could see was him on the ground, he looked up at whoever grabbed him, fear in his eyes, then jumped up and ran off. I finally looked at who had saved me from what I was sure was intended to be a date rape. It was the weird (and somewhat sexy) guy from down the block. He gave me this little smirk and said “you OK?” I nodded and sat down on the stoop, still trying to catch my breath. He sat next to me, handed me a beer (lucky for me, he happened to be returning from running out to buy a 6-pack when he saw what was happening to me), held out his hand and said “I’m Peter. Damn, you have fuckin’ terrible taste in men.” I looked up into his amazing green eyes and felt safe. I knew I was safe with him. That was my introduction to Peter Ratajczyk.
That was thirteen years ago. A lot changed over the years. I grew up a bit. Got slightly better taste in men (though not in Peter’s estimation, not until I hooked up with the man currently in my life.) I started working in television and movie production (grunt work, but mostly satisfying), and started spending more time in LA (where my family is located). Peter changed, too. He battled his demons. He continued to have terrible taste in women (dude, she CHEATED, and more than once – and you went to prison because of her cheating ass). He took care of his mother until she passed away. He suffered bouts of illness. He found his way back to God. He was finally more at peace with himself and less at odds with his demons, he was healthy and looking better than ever… then he died.
Through it all, he was my friend. He protected me when he could, brought me back to earth when I got flighty, and was there to pick me up at the airport when I needed to get back to reality and out of Los Angeles (I hated his car, but it was vintage Peter). We would sit on the stoop and he would belch out the lyrics to Iron Man, then get annoyed when he forgot the words and I neglected to help him. Like I would know or care – he was belching them and that was disgusting! Early morning grocery shopping was a favorite pasttime (dude would put the most bizarre things in his cart because he knew people would look). Went to the movies with him once, he almost got us kicked out. Never did that again. Watched him play… he hated playing live a lot of the time but he was so fucking good at it. Listened to his bad jokes. Heard the pride in his voice when he talked about what the other guys in his band were up to. He never begrudged them following their desires to branch out and work with other musicians as long as they were there when he was ready with new Type O stuff. And mostly, I loved him. He was the brother I never had. I don’t know if he knew how much he meant to me. We didn’t see much of each other during the last two or three years as I was mired in work in LA. I saw him enough to see the positive changes he was making in his life. Then he died. Part of me still hopes he faked his death to get some rest from the maelstrom that was his life and his mind. Intellectually I know that’s not the case, but it doesn’t mean I don’t see some really tall guy with long dark hair and tats and feel my heart leap into my throat and hope take up temporary residence in the place my heart was. Then I realize he’s lacking the smirk, the mischief, and the insanely beautiful and honest eyes that were truly windows to his equally beautiful and honest soul, and I remember that Peter’s dead.
Sometimes, when something happens in my life or around me that is so full of irony and ridiculousness, I just know that somehow, Peter is behind it. He was not one to suffer fools or ludicrous situations, nor would he let others suffer either, unless he was behind the suffering. And a lot of times I cry because I miss him so much. I cry a lot, actually. But the one man I ever dated that Pete liked is here to pick up the pieces and remind me that mourning Peter probably isn’t what he wanted. Then I remember the funny shit that always seemed to go hand in hand with him and smile. But it doesn’t change the fact that he’s gone. It never will. I love you, Peter.