Friday, August 27, 2004


Last night I lost $$ again at poker -- I thought I wasn't going to go to my regular game at all, but I wasn't getting anything done so off I went. I had terrible, terrible cards and won only one hand in 3 hours. As opposed to the last time I went, it wasn't that I was playing badly, but as I complained at the end of the night, that I was very unlucky. I wasn't playing great either, but there wasn't much I could have done. Folded even more, earlier, perhaps.

As I took my self-punishing late night subway ride home (I only feel entitled to a cab if I win), I thought, woe is me. So unlucky.

This morning at 8:30, my dad called. This isn't a normal time for him to call and I've been sick and sleeping poorly, so I wasn't in a great mood and I think answered the phone with an annoyed, "What?"

Well, it turned out to be bad news. The worst kind. A childhood friend of mine, Peter, died last night in a car accident in Costa Rica. He was a photographer and was out there for some work-related thing and I guess the car went off the road and flipped over. I haven't -- or I guess hadn't -- been in touch with him really since I was in high school, but he was part of the preschool co-op group my parents, with other neighborhood new parents, had started in the 70's. The "City Kids" preschool met in a Lutheran church near the Bloomingdale Branch of the NY Library:

which is where I have some of my earliest memories, playing hide and seek within the pews. Five of the City Kids also went to the same elementary school (Bank Street) for the following 10 years. But I hadn't seen Peter in years until I ran into him last November on the street in SoHo and caught up a bit. I remember thinking he had come a long way from the shy kid who wouldn't let anyone videotape him during my eighth birthday party, during which he spent more time hiding behind things than playing with the rest of the party. I think he was the only one at the party who wouldn't do a one-on-one "interview" about the movie "E.T," which was the theme of the day.

My ex-fiance always complained that New York wasn't a town where you knew your neighbors, but growing up here I felt very differently. One of the reasons I think this has affected me more than if it were just a random elementary school classmate who passed away is that the five families of the City Kids/Bank Street children have stayed in touch through the decades. All of our parents still live in the same apartments we grew up in, all within an 8-block radius in the Upper West Side. My family spends Christmas with one of the other families, and my parents have celebrated New Year’s Eve with another set every year for almost 20 years. We all got together sometimes, after major events like college graduations and stuff. It wasn’t that we were close so much, Peter and I, but that I guess I expected to keep seeing and hearing about him for the rest of my life.

I don't really know what to say, other than it's tragic and my heart breaks for his family. It sure does make the idea that I was thinking of myself as unlucky last night laughable, though. All of the things I was upset about this week and things I wanted to say about LA and Vegas seem irrelevant now.

This is Peter's high school ID. It's about where we stopped seeing each other regularly, so this is how I think of him most days, even though he was 29.


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