Hey, I’m a huge Jdev fan and just wanted to share this with other like-minded souls. It is an essay-esque thing taken from the journal section of his old myspace page, April Base. Unfortunately it, or the other myriad posts from Justin, don’t show up there anymore, or anywhere else on the internet—by my reckoning at least. Well, the first time I read it I was so blown away by its honesty, structure, and everything that I recorded it by hand and just recently typed it so I could send it to the likes of you and yours. The several clerical errors and typos are actually the original form of the essay and I recorded it as accurately as possible, paying heed to the seemingly intentional and definitely interesting choices in spelling, capitalization, and the like. I’m an english major, so this shit’s my bag, as austin powers would say. Here goes:
the buses are a comin’
death is not a noun. It is hard to extract its essence; to tack down its meaning or purpose. and why where it goes, pain comes. today, a 1000 miles from where I grew up. spent thousands of nights eating dinner, waking up to a wet lawn, doing homework, falling asleep in a comfort jungle of covers, an 18 wheeler jack-knifed a caravan of buses. On the pictures I saw on the newsites, I saw the familiar hills along the valley that held I-94. The front of the bus was just…gone. Missing. It wasn’t anywhere. With it was 5 other people. There was 4 buses in all, in the caravan; a caravan of charter style buses, probably some of the same exact ones that I rode safely to football games, jazz festivals, when I was in high school. This time they were filled with kids from the Chippewa Falls band program. It also held some parent chaperones, a student teacher, and a Mr. Douglas Greenhalgh. It was two a.m. when the collision killed Mr. G. His wife and granddaughter went away with him. There must have been blood. Blood is where life is and sometimes, where it once was. His students have simply called him “G” ever since he started as the band director in Chippewa in the 80’s. I know this because my two best friends called him that. They learned music from this man. If you had a band director in high school that cared about music as much or more than you did, you understand what they mean to you. I shook his hand on many occasions. He loved my boys. He loved every kid I ever saw him interact with. He had a nice way of blurring the line of appropriate and inappropriate humor for a high school teacher. This same talent also granted him an inordinate amount of love and care for teaching music to the kids of Chippewa Falls High School. He cared. No, he really fucking cared. You don’t put up with the shit of a bunch of pimply, whiney, pukes with awkward clarinets in their hands if you didn’t.. But I guess you could say that of a lot of music teachers. No, not this one. You don’t wake up at 5:30 for months out of the year. on your summers off, to get up for sometimes muggy, heat stroke summer days, sometimes freezing November finger weather for marching band rehearsals, if you don’t care. You don’t have people call you a father figure, if you weren’t something incredibly vital to their very being. To others, like to Brad and especially to Phil, he was a guy who showed paths to music, to living life, as an educator, as a friend. As a burning, breathing human being. Today, Phil got the call from a former classmate. I wasn’t there, but heather told me that he left the living room and collapsed in the hallway. He layed on the ground soaking the wood. I have only seen him react this way one other time. And while its not the same thing, it was when he walked nearly 9 hours around northern and southern eau Claire county only to arrive at my house, because it was where he ended up, sweat and tear soaked, wind blustered, a chaffed mess. He had only one record with him on his headphones. It was Patty Griffin. I’ll never forget when he told me that when the music swelled at the end of “Fly” he ran. he ran as fast as he could, pumping his arms, passing a homemade baseball field with a man under-handing a meat pitch over the plate to his son. He laid in my lap, smelling of clean sweat, crying dry tears. He said he saw his Grandfather out there. He had passed a few days before that. Like the 60’s black spiritual says, “the buses are a comin’.” They are coming for us. to take us somewhere? to stop. to crash. to breakdown. to bring us home. to bring us to places of memory. to catch on fire. to host new loves. to bring the rockstar to the next right. to disappear in the rainy night gloom, as it passes under a radiant green sign. It is not a noun. I don’t know if it is, but it isn’t. I don’t care what it is. It comes. It’s a comin’. Tonight in the rose garden I have frequented since being a resident of this Raleigh neighborhood, I took water from the fountain and put it on my forehead and heart, and said a prayer with no words.
-Justin DeYarmond Edison Vernon