Monday, September 15, 2008

My Friend Sasha

i’m not sure how i missed the news earlier this year that my friend, Alexander Merman, had died. can i still call him my friend? i hadn’t talked to him or seen him in many years but on those rare occasions when the thought of him did pop into my head, i remembered him warmly — and will continue to remember him warmly.

though right now i’m sad. crushed even. i could barely sleep last night, my mind flooded with his memory. he wasn’t supposed to die so young and he certainly wasn’t supposed to be murdered — with not a single suspect in custody, warrant issued or arrest made. seems like Santa Monica has been safe for so long that the local cops have forgotten how to conduct an investigation. it’s been six months and still nothing.

i read every google entry i could find on the murder as a way to convince myself that it actually happened. but each one left me with a greater sense of disbelief as i searched for the punchline that never came — that it was all a big joke, that none of it actually happened.

but it did happen. my friend alex was murdered in such a random, violent way that doesn’t fit with the life i knew him to lead. when i knew him and saw him regularly, about eight years ago, he was decent and funny and driven. he was a talented artist who produced beautiful work, some of which he gave me. i still have a piece in my parents’ garage signed “love, sasha.”

we dated for a few months, long-distance dating as i was living in SF at the time, he in LA. we managed to see each other every other weekend, with his visits to SF always accompanied by a dozen roses. he was sweet like that, and faultlessly polite, raised well by a single mother, the only russian i’ve ever dated. things were going well until we spent a week vacationing in Acapulco, where we realized that we were completely wrong for each other. we split up soon after.

still, i’d see him around. we stayed friendly and kept in touch. he even came out to a few parties i hosted once i moved back to LA and entered a new relationship. all the while he kept working on his art, and with the students at the Watts middle school where he taught — the students who gave him an endless supply of funny stories to share. he loved those kids, and judging by the message boards that erupted after his murder, they loved him back.

about five years ago, i saw him walking down Santa Monica with his mother as i was walking out of the Whole Foods in West Hollywood. i had moved into the neighborhood a few weeks earlier following a big breakup and couldn’t handle running into an ex-boyfriend, a reminder of another failed relationship. so i crossed the street to avoid them while feeling embarrassed and sorry for myself. now i just feel immature. i could have at least said hello. it was the last time i saw him.

i figured i’d run into him again at some point, randomly and unexpectedly, or that i would open up an LA Weekly and see his name attached to a local gallery show. instead, i see him on the internet, the word “murder” attached to his picture, with a story on how he died painfully and alone. stabbed to death.

i keep trying to chase those images out of my head by flipping through the small photo album i have of our time together in mexico. i keep trying to remember the way he looked the last time i saw him, smiling with his mother on his arm. i keep trying to remember the conversations we had so i don’t imagine the sound of his voice yelling for help and then being silenced forever as he bled to death in his apartment. i keep trying to be ok with this.

1 comment:

larry said...

what beatiful thoughts about this man. I sometimes wonder why nice people end up like this. i mean this tragic and violent. Is is previous life, sin, we pay later in another life, that's the only reasonable explanation i have to understand such an awful fate! We come in contact with people and we have no idea what the future has in store for them. Just taking care of his mother shows to me this was a great individual, specially if they were this close.