Mourning my friend Alice

Mourning my friend Alice

Mourning my friend Alice

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Mourning my friend Alice

My friend Alice died in her sleep in February. I’ve only just found out. She was one of my very few inner-circle friends, and I’m at a loss for how to go forward.

I met Alice in about 2003 in an online forum. We were all there to help and support each other through some particular personal difficulties we all shared. We continued into a long email correspondence, writing each other several times per week. Sometimes our messages were short and newsy, sometimes they were long personal reflections. Often we worked out difficult things we faced personally through writing to each other. There was nothing I wouldn’t tell her.

I very much appreciated Alice’s extremely high intelligence. She had a remarkable ability to see patterns in things, and was remarkably insightful. She helped me through the worst time of my life, and I believe I helped her find some peace with some intractable challenges she faced.

I visited Alice twice; her home was not so far away that I couldn’t drive there and back in one very long day. The first time was in 2010 or 2011, and the last time was probably in about 2013. I met her longtime friend and companion, a quiet gentleman who stuck with her through to the end. Alice didn’t drive, and he made sure that her basic needs were met by driving her anywhere she needed to go.

Alice had strong sensory and emotional challenges, enough that she qualified as disabled. The world was simply too loud and abrasive for her. One year, the city tore the street out on her block to replace an aged and failing water line. The constant noise created a real crisis in her life. She lived on a subsistence income; there was no real ability for her to get away. Earplugs and anti-anxiety medication got her through.

That income came from art she created on her computer. She had minor fame for an annual calendar of fractal art she created. The 2025 edition is out now. She stopped producing new art a few years ago, but the publishing company kept going with leftover work.

Her last years were characterized by great uncertainty over her housing situation. It’s a long, drawn-out story, but it looked increasingly like she’d be forced out of the home she’d lived in for 30 years. That living situation was scaled to her meager income, and it would be impossible to find a situation like it again. It generated tremendous stress for her.

Margaret and I talked through things we might to to help her find stable housing, but every idea was either beyond our capabilities or our means. I was left to just be horrified for her. She didn’t want to talk about it much, as she found that distracting herself with home projects and email correspondence with the handful of friends she had scattered across the nation was key to her keeping it together.

Now she has died, and her worries are past.

Inner-circle friends are precious and rare. At my age, I expect I’ll make no more of them. When my old friend Brian moved 700 miles away a few years ago, I realized I would be wise to cultivate the close friendships I’ve collected in my lifetime. I don’t need many good friends, but I do need a couple. My closest friend lives in Terre Haute, which isn’t that far away; over the last few years I’ve made a point of getting out there to see him a few times a year. I’ve resumed a stalled friendship with a college friend who lives in southern Indiana; we’ve met up for Mexican food a couple times this year, once when I happened to be in his neck of the woods and another time when we made plans to meet in the middle. I was fortunate about ten years ago to make a good friend who is a local leader in the industry in which I work, and we go drink good whiskey every month or two.

Of course, none of that makes up for losing Alice. I mourn my friend. At least now she is at peace, and is free from worry and fear.

It had lately become not unusual that we would write back and forth several times in a week, and then go weeks without not writing. I last received an email from her on January 31st. When enough return emails went unanswered, I found her companion’s email and wrote him. He shared the bad news.

Alice made all of the photographs I’ve shared here. I also own several of her father’s cameras, including my Olympus OM-1, my Yashica-D, and my Certo Super Sport Dolly.

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Hi, I’m Steven, a Florida native, who left my career in corporate wealth management six years ago to embark on a summer of soul searching that would change the course of my life forever.

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