Friday, December 16, 2005

Saying Goodbye

Saying Goodbye

At first I thought I'd post this over at my personal blog, but nah, I'll guess I'll put this here for once. It has nothing at all to do with my work, or the museum, but these are things that preoccupy my imagination from time to time.

One of my best friends in High School was Angel "Bong" Aganon. We hung out at his place, desperately trying to watch porn, but circumstances both amusing and frustrating, kept us from doing so. We just ended up playing guitars as we listened to Beatles songs. He was an amazing guitar player and he had a good ear for tune. If we didn't have chords to a certain song, you see, we would find the chords by listening to the song closely. Bong would often correct me if I made a mistake. I often made them, as he almost always never did.

He even made a song for me. He slipped a little slip of paper in one of my books and said to look at it later. They were lyrics to a song he had written, and he called it "My Best Friend". He was probably too embarassed to have me read it in front of him, but many weeks later he sang it for me and it was quite extraordinary.

Bong looked like a cop, with this beer belly and his intense beady eyes. But he would often undermine his own daunting countenance by breaking out into silly laughter and hilariously funny facial contortions. You won't believe your eyes as he suddenly stiffens and his face slowly transforms into Charles Bronson. It was amazing.

The last time I saw him was around 1997 or so, at the food court of Shangrila Mall on the corner of Shaw and Edsa. He looked more pregnant than his wife. His beer belly was colossal. He seemed a little bit more serious, but still every bit as silly when the conversation called for it. We promised to stay in touch, but we never did.

He died sometime in 2002. I did not find out about it until a year later, a fact so casually and nonchalantly thrown away during idle conversations in our high school mailing list. My world suddenly stopped when I read it. I couldn't believe it.

I feel sad that I never had the chance to say goodbye to one of my best friends. I feel sad that I found out about it so long after it had happened and I feel guilty for not knowing.

I've had so few best friends in my life. I can count them all with the fingers of one hand. I'm glad that I've had the chance to say goodbye to some of them, not because they died of course, but because they were going away far away and things aren't all sure if we'd ever see each other again.

It's always heartbreaking when something like that happens. You see them for the last time as they slowly get smaller as they walk away, or sometimes you just look at their face, shake their hand and look away and never look back, trying to memorize that moment, and that face, in your mind for all time.

Those last moments with them are all permanently locked in my mind, like pictures I can look at if I had the courage to do so.

My absolute favorite song of all time is, unsurprisingly, a song about goodbyes. Bruce Springsteen's "Bobby Jean" is probably familiar to some of you as the music in Johnny's "Where Are You?" video I made last year.

The song talks about a guy who never had a chance to say goodbye to his best friend. The loneliness of the first couple of verses is heartbreaking, but finally ends with some sort of hope that his song will somehow, someway be heard, and he can finally say goodbye.

I've posted it before, but I'm posting it here again.

Bruce Springsteen

Well I came by your house the other day, your mother said you went away
She said there was nothing that I could have done
There was nothing nobody could say
Me and you we've known each other ever since we were sixteen
I wished I would have known I wished I could have called you
Just to say goodbye Bobby Jean

Now you hung with me when all the others turned away turned up their nose
We liked the same music we liked the same bands we liked the same clothes
We told each other that we were the wildest, the wildest things we'd ever seen
Now I wished you would have told me I wished I could have talked to you
Just to say goodbye Bobby Jean

Now we went walking in the rain talking about the pain from the world we hid
Now there ain't nobody nowhere nohow gonna ever understand me the way you did
Maybe you'll be out there on that road somewhere
In some bus or train traveling along
In some motel room there'll be a radio playing
And you'll hear me sing this song
Well if you do you'll know I'm thinking of you and all the miles in between
And I'm just calling one last time not to change your mind
But just to say I miss you baby, good luck goodbye, Bobby Jean

Copyright © Bruce Springsteen (ASCAP)

If you want to listen to the song as you read the lyrics, go here.
The sound quality isn't pretty good, but for a free download, I guess that's OK.