Aside

All I Want For Christmas…

20 Dec

It is hard for me to go through the holiday season without thinking of Jeff.  Strange, I know, seeing as neither of us have ever even spent a Christmas in the same state.  As I write this, Jeff will have been physically gone for almost as long as I’ve known him, and yet, he is still here with me.  Rich told me once that the duration of the time I knew him was not important, but the profound impact that we had on each other was, and that is something that is totally and unequivocally true.

I met Jeff in April 2009 and we grew to be quite close.  Even with the knowledge that he was graduating and returning to New York while I went back to Virginia, preparing to jet off to Paris for a year abroad, our friendship did not suffer.  So what if there were a few states and an ocean between us?  I spent that Christmas going from Rome to Venice to the French countryside, but Jeff and I stayed in touch, as we had been that entire summer.  I would go into a cafe and speak mangled French with an Italian accent in order to get access to the internet, and then, if/when I succeeded, I’d open up facebook.  And there would be a message from Jeff.

As Jeff is wont to do, he talked about his greatest passion in life:  “anyway, i just got back from the knicks game tonight. they are the worst professional basketball team i’ve ever seen in my life. i’m not even joking. i wish i could make $8 million a year for being a lazy ass bum.”

As I am wont to do, I countered with mine:  “the bread and cheese are great, but I would kill to have some spicy and/or American food right about now…”

And so we continued.  He discussed his job and I told him about my experiences abroad.  He told me that January and February were apparently slow months at work, so he’d be able to come home by 5:30 (in contrast to the multiple all-nighters that he’d pulled before).  Not gainfully employed like he was, I told him about my bohemian life and how I almost got peed on while walking down one of Paris’ poshest boulevards.  (I knew he’d be jealous of *that*.)  Just another day in the life of Jeff Klein and Thao Lam.

Christmas 2010 was radically different.  Tragically, Jeff was still not there with me.  At the same time, he was right by my side, just as he’d been the year before.  After finishing up my finals, I made a little detour and stopped by NYC to attend Brooke and Julie’s holiday bash.  I spent a night out on the town, hanging with Jeff’s nearest and dearest, people whom I’d never met until recently and yet had heard so much about.  They quickly became my friends, too, though, and I am grateful that they are now a part of my life.  We spent that night reminiscing and drinking, all in honor of a dearly beloved friend.  And of course Jeff was there with us.

This Christmas will once again be different.  NYC does not appear to be in the picture for me, but I think I will still be able to keep Jeff’s spirit alive.  Little things and random events still remind me of him, and I know they always will.  Knowing Jeff’s love for traditions, I am hoping to continue a few of my own.  Sports-wise, I am not quite sure what is going on with the NFL–or football in general–since I no longer have Jeff here to patiently explain things to me, but I will root for the Giants (?) in his honor.  (The fact that my little brother is an ardent Patriots fan will be an added bonus.)  I will smile every time I hear about the Knicks.  And I will always, always root for the underdog.

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So Jeff–here’s to you.  I am reminded of you when I eat something too spicy.  I watch basketball now because of you.  One day I will even understand other mainstream sports, all in your honor.  In the spirit of the “jeffklein, please come back into my life” texts that I have sent you at various times, I have a couple of favors to ask of you while you’re hanging out up there.  Firstly, that text still applies.  Secondly, I know you’re already watching out for me, but try to keep me from doing too many stupid things hokay.  Finally, make everyone move down to DC so that I can see them more.  With love, Thao.

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Note: I’ve always regretted that Jeff and I had so few pictures together.  Thus, in the spirit of the holidays, I’ve asked one of my best friends, a Nickelodeon animator extraordinaire, to remedy that situation.  She gifted me with not one, but two, pictures.

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