"Adrianne Blue Wakefield-St. George died Thursday, June 1, 2006 at her home, Havencrest Castle, in Savanna, Illinois."
Stop and consider that sentence, for just a moment. The opening sentence of the obituary of a dear, now departed friend. She died at her home, which was, indeed, a castle. We've exchanged Christmas cards for years, and it never failed to make me smile when I'd address the envelope. "Havencrest Castle." No street name or number. I mean, it's a CASTLE for Christ's sake -- I imagine the postal worker would have little trouble figuring out which house the letters should go to. "Hmmm, Havencrest Castle. Should this one go to the mid-70's split-level, the nice little colonial, or the enormous 60+ rooms turn-of-the-century castle overlooking the Mississippi?"
Yeah, I suppose just "Havencrest Castle" was more than adequate.
I knew Princess for nearly a decade. We met way way back in the good old days of USENET, on alt.showbiz.gossip, where I met some of my finest online friends, and where I also learned a bit more than I care to know about how wonderful and yet utterly dysfunctional online life could become. Ask anyone who was active in alt.showbiz.gossip during to mid-to-late-90's and they'll understand. The highest of highs, the lowest of lows, in online relationship terms. It was worth it, but god, what a mess.
Our friendship began, and existed entirely, online. We never once met, nor spoke in person. This factoid seems to make some people think that the friendship was of lesser value. Honestly, what a foolish and ignorant thing to say. Before the advent of the telephone people built relationships based solely on the written word. The entire concept of pen pals is based in the idea that written communication can be the foundation of incredibly rewarding relationships. Online communication is no different, particularly when both parties regard it as such. Adrianne has been a daily-to-weekly part of my life for many years. We shared stories, gossiped mercilessly, comforted each other when cherished pets died, quipped and snickered, chatted and exchanged recipes, and shared an obsession with Big Brother (her obsession far exceeding my own). And yet I never once heard the sound of her voice. And while that is something I now deeply regret, it in no way changes the simple fact that yes, we were friends. Very good friends.
One of the groups to which we belonged is very long on role-playing and cattiness, with an almost outrageous level of vicious snappy banter being thrown about left and right. I'm not very good at that, sadly -- I can keep up, on occasion, but mostly I'm too earnest and thin-skinned to get into the catfights, joking or not. I have trouble telling when the fun ends and the mean begins, so mostly I stand at the sidelines and observe, throwing the occasional pithy comment in just to participate. But Adrianne was *brilliant* at her role. She typically struck the pose of "scathing, vicious royalty," exchanging barbs and witticisms with astonishing skill. But she wasn't that personae at all. Off-group, or in e-mail, or in chats, she was, instead, warm and encouraging, generous and open-hearted, and above all just plain kind. A good person.
Anyway, one of the jokes about her on line personae was that she was eternally youthful, the secret being that hoary cliche "bathing in the blood of virgins." I mean, what else? One thing that I said to my wife, many times over the years was how someday we were going to take a flight to Illinois and attend one of Princess' incredible parties. Some day. My little joke had always been that we couldn't attend until my kids were older, because a) we couldn't deny them the opportunity to meet her, since the experience would be something they'd remember forever -- I mean, she's a PRINCESS -- but b) I couldn't allow her to bleed them for the baths, either. But someday we were going to go, and we were going to meet this Princess that willed herself into being. One of these days. Well, there's that regret. Something I wish I'd done. "One of these days" just isn't going to happen now.
I don't know what else to say, here. I mean this as a sort of tribute, but honestly there's just too much to say about her. I have ten years of stories, all of them treasures. She was unique, truly. One of a kind. Without peer or parallel.
Yesterday, while shopping, I decided that I would purchase some pink roses just to sort of honor her and make myself feel better. However, there seemed to be a shortage of pink roses so I wound up selecting a trio of lovely pink peonies, which are currently serving as our centerpiece. When I picked them up, one was beginning to bloom but the other two buds were still tightly bunched up. After I left the market, I needed to stop and get a refill of our propane tank. As I had the top of the Jeep off, the peonies spent some time laying in the sun while I went into the store. By the time I arrived at home, the other two buds had begun to burst open, and two hours later they were in full, glorious bloom. And today, of course, I looked at the flowers, and they've already begun to wilt.
So lovely, but failing far too soon.
Rest in peace, Princess. My life is better for having known you.
Mood: Very sad
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