Posted by: King Bee | March 17, 2007

To Do It For Gina

There are times in my life I have paused to reflect. To look at where I have been and remember where I came from. The people that have passed in and out of my life. The ones that stick around when you think they will never be anything more than acquaintances when you meet. They turn out to be your best friends. And the ones you meet that you immediately can’t remember your life before them, only to one day realize it has been years since you last heard from them. I believe that people come in to our lives for a reason. Some to inspire, some to give us strength, some to make us question ourselves and those around us, but most of all they teach us about life. What it means to love and to live. To explore who we are and why we are here.

Gina was one of those friends that did all of the above. She was my strength when I was at my weakest. She was my shoulder when I needed to cry. She was my smile when I wanted to laugh. She was my friend when no one else would be.

Our paths first crossed in the 6th grade. I had just moved to Everett, Washington. A small town above Seattle mostly known for the papermill that stunk up the state. It was a town that was divided by class. The rich people lived up off the cliffs, while the poor people lived below and the middle class occupied the south. It was on the poor side of town that we first met.

I was living with my mother in a small one bedroom house. My room was the pantry and my bed was the couch. We lived on welfare and bought our food with food stamps. On the really tight months, our food came from the dumpsters of the grocery store with expired dates. We were poor. Down the street was Gina. She too lived with her mother and her little brother. Gina was also poor, but at least had her own bedroom.

One afternoon I was taking the bus home from school. Gina and her friend Jennifer were on that very same bus. We all exited the same stop. I was about 4 feet tall and a waif. I had skipped second grade so my body was a year underdeveloped than others in my class and because of that, my voice was higher than most. During that walk home, Gina and Jennifer began picking on me. And I ran home in tears.

Every day the torment came and every day I grew stronger and stronger. One day, I finally let them have it and all they did was laugh. And from that day forward, I was no longer afraid of them, and actually began to be treated more like a twirpy little brother instead of a social outcast.

By the end of the school year, our differences were somehow put behind us and we actually considered ourselves friends. I can still remember feeling so cool because I got to hang out by her 8th grade locker and look at the Prince poster she had hanging inside.

She went off to High School and moved to a different part of town. So for the next 2 years, I would rarely see her and we were never the kind of friends to talk on the phone.

When I finally made it to High School, we ran into each other in the hall. Over the summer, my mother had wed her boyfriend and we were living in the rich part of Everett. Somehow, my mother had found an inexpensive house to rent in the heart of the snobby people. When Gina and I were reconnected at school, we were immediately the best of friends as if we had been our entire lives. She introduced me to her circle of friends and I was quickly accepted as one of the crew. It turns out that when she moved away, she had also relocated to the rich part of Everett. Somehow we were once again neighbors.

For her 2 remaining years in school, I was one of her best friends. I was her date to the formal dances and the ear she felt comfortable whispering her dreams into.

She graduated in the summer of ’89. In January of 1990, I moved from Everett to San Jose, California. For whatever reason, when I arrived to San Jose, I could not make a friend to save my life. It was my Junior year of High School and my prom was coming up. So I called my best date I knew and she couldn’t be more happy to escort me. I remember thinking, this will be the greatest. Gina and I will dance the night away. People will think we are the hippest couple ever and then everyone will want to know me. I will for sure begin making lots of friends.

Gina and I talked on the phone every day for two weeks. Planning out the evening. Discussing our outfits. Where we would eat. We had tickets to the Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation Tour. We were scheduled to have the time of our life and all I could dream of was my new school finally embracing me.

Two days before Gina’s flight, I received a phone call from her aunt. Gina had gone to the beach with her friends the night before. You had to cross train tracks to get to the water. It was dark. It was a blind curve. There were several sets of tracks. A train had just passed. As they were crossing, they heard another train approaching. They ran to the track that the last train had passed by on for safety. While running, Gina tripped. In the flash of a second, I lost my best friend.

Dealing with her death was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. It wasn’t until a year later that I realized I hadn’t lost her, but had actually been blessed by her. I had been given the chance to meet what I consider, my guardian angel. Since her death, my life began taking many different roads. Roads that lead me to one greater place after the other. It was in her memory I would find the courage to take the more dangerous paths of life. Anytime I was frightened of where I was going, I would think about Gina and find comfort knowing she was out there.

I had decided shortly after her death that I would embrace the sound of trains than live in fear of them for the rest of my life. Whenever I hear the horn of a train pass by, I imagine it is Gina passing through, reminding me she is still in my life watching over me.

I will never forget the night I was walking across the parking lot of my school. It was opening night of the school play and I had one of the leads. I was terrified. As I was walking across the parking lot, I was thinking of how quiet it was. Cars hadn’t arrived yet. It was dark. The only sound was the herd of elephants trampling around in my stomach. Then from a distance I heard a slight horn and before long my ears were filled with one of the loudest train horns I have ever heard. The tracks were probably eight miles from my school, but in the quiet of night, it sounded like it was in front of me.

Immediately my nerves were calmed. My stomach settled. I knew Gina was with me and I was going to perform that night for her. I believe that people come in to our lives for a reason. Some to inspire, some to give us strength, some to make us question ourselves and those around us, but most of all they teach us about life. What it means to love and to live. To explore who we are and why we are here. Gina’s short time on this earth, has taught me all of that. She is still a strength to me today. Whenever I feel like it’s all too much and I’ve lost the energy to go on, she finds me. She reminds me she is there. And I find myself inspired. To do it for Gina.

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Responses

  1. Bob,

    I don’t think you and I knew each other back in high school, but I knew Gina. I stumbled upon the picture of the two of you over on Facebook, which led me here. I have to tell you that I was very moved by the words you have written. The world lost something special when it lost Gina, and I don’t think you could have possibly worded it any better.

    Take Care,

    Suzanne (Matthie) Soule


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