All My Friends


I’ve been thinking lately about time and change and distance traveled. Yesterday, The Atlantic published Quinn’s piece on Aaron. It’s brave and heartbreaking and takes a close look at a particular period of time, a span of just a few months.

And I was thinking of the moments just before those months.

That’s how it starts
We go back to your house
We check the charts
And start to figure it out

2010 was an amazing year and a devastating one. I co-directed the NESCBWI spring conference for my second and final time that May. Andrew organized an unconference at IBM that October. The moments felt full of possibility.

You switch the engine on
We set controls for the heart of the sun
One of the ways we show our age

Then we lost Mari in November, and sometimes I feel we’re still trying to recover from that break in our story, from a happy momentum to crashing full speed into a wall. Our previous path lost all meaning, and we didn’t know what to do besides search.

And if the sun comes up, if the sun comes up
If the sun comes up
and I still don’t wanna stagger home

Quinn’s story begins two months later, in January.

Then it’s the memory of our betters
That are keeping us on our feet

This past week, another story went viral — Amanda Palmer’s TED talk about asking. Amanda has wanted to give a TED talk (at least that she’s said in public) since 2010. That year, she started giving talks during some of her ninja gigs in Boston. It was at one of these ninja gigs that Andrew asked her if she’d keynote his unconference. She did. For free. Because she thought it would be interesting, and she wanted to keep pulling her thoughts together through these talks.

This photo is from the unconference. Amanda spent most of the time doing a Q&A. Here, she’s sitting across from Quinn, who accidentally took over the Q&A and turned it into an interview. She’s a journalist, and someone handed her a mic, so she fell into her usual role. We eventually had to take the mic away despite the insightful questions so others could participate. It was hilarious and relaxed and lovely — unlimited Manhattans, the Oberon theatre, and about 60 participants.

No one could have predicted the paths ahead: the straight trajectory or the fractures.

That March, I wanted to do something special for Andrew’s birthday. We’d had an awful few months and needed a break. We went to New York, and I’d gotten tickets to LCD Soundsystem’s final show at Terminal 5 and to see Sleep No More for the first time in NY and for our second time ever.

And if I’m sewn into submission
I can still come home to this

We kept moving forward, from moment to moment, but without the sense of purpose we’d once possessed. Somewhere along the way we got stuck.

You spent the first five years trying to get with the plan
And the next five years trying to be with your friends again

And so we left, nearly a year ago, to unfreeze ourselves, to prove that we could do this.

We did. But some days, I really miss our friends.

Where are your friends tonight?
Where are your friends tonight?
Where are your friends tonight?

If I could see all my friends tonight

© 2016 Anindita Basu Sempere. 
All Rights Reserved