Thursday, August 11, 2005

My Friend Angela

you couldn't help but fall in love with her. she had a contagious good energy. she was the type of girl you adored from the start; she didn't have to grow on you. she'd throw her head back when she laughed and she gave hugs often. i don't think she had a bad bone in her body.

i met her when she interviewed me for a copy editor slot for the hollywood reporter's features staff back in 2001. i think both of us knew then that we'd be fast friends because we just had too damn much in common. she hired me that same day. we'd take our afternoon coffee breaks each day around 3pm. she's walk with me to the starbucks across the street, but insisted on getting her own coffee at the ma-and-pa cafe so she could patronize local business. she was a lefty like that -- in the purest of ways. she went to UC santa cruz. she never shaved her legs. she even worked once for Ms. magazine, but left when she realized it didn't meet her idealistic standards. she was a heartfelt liberal with a fiery intellect. full of compassion, those doe eyes of hers, framed by a shiny black bob and cat-rimmed glasses, burned with a childlike wonderment. she was fascinating, and easily fascinated. a great listener.

we worked together for about a year, and hung out often outside of work. we'd have hours-long conversations on my couch, her socked feet always dug in between the couch cushions. her husband, an aspiring filmmaker, shot a short film at the house on spaulding where i lived for two years. he brought in a full crew and she catered the whole thing single-handedly. her cooking was terrific. so were her writing and editing skills. she was published, talented, vivacious, beautiful, always sincere and very loved. i loved her. she was my friend Angela.

i found out the other day that she killed herself. she wrote a few goodbye letters, then hanged herself. just like that. and i really don't get it. i'm bowled over, crushed. i left work early and spent the afternoon crying in bed, trying to understand what could have happened to extinguish such a powerful life force. she could brighten a room with her smile. she touched your arm when she talked to you. she was incredible.

our mutual friend dave says she got sick, fell into an abyssmal depression that she couldn't wriggle free from. he heard that her letters likened this depression to a demon that possessed her. that's why, he says, she didn't return our phone calls or emails this past year. she isolated herself, saying she was too busy, too much going on, and she would catch up with us when things settled down. she divorced her terrific, terrific husband for no good reason. she told me she was meditating and had a vision that they should no longer be married. she told me that she stopped attending the weekly dinner with her close-knit family. she told me that she started seeing a psychologist and wanted her career to be more purposeful. she was doing some soul-searching, she said. i told her i supported her, which i certainly did, but privately i didn't understand all her choices, which seemed out of character. and then no word from her for many months. and now comes this final word.

i feel guilty, like i failed her. dave says not to. he says to remember her warmth and the beautiful soul she was before the disease arrived and ravaged her. i still don't get it. this is not something you do when you're 32 and your possibilities are, essentially, limitless. this is something you might do when you're 16 and stupid, when you can't see beyond your summer vacation. but Angela had everything she needed to make her life work. disease, dave reminds me, took her will to live. zapped. 'mind over matter,' i think to myself, but what the hell do i know? i do know that depression ran in her family. she told me stories of her father's depression and how it taxed her. perhaps that's why she isolated herself -- she understood the burden better than anyone. but if she stayed open, if she accepted help, things might have been different. they would have been different. i'll miss her. my friend Angela.

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