When you’re in your 30s, you don’t meet people like you did in your teens or your 20s. You’ll still call someone a “good friend” even if you haven’t seen them in a few years: But you aren’t the same person you were back then. That person is trapped like a fossil in amber, and can generally only be accessed by the people who knew you before. You simply can’t be as close with all the people you used to be close with. You change, they change, life changes… and life changes you.
Angie and I were never best friends, but she was always part of my life in my early and mid twenties. We ping-ponged between Mission dive bars, sure of what we were gonna do with our lives even if we weren’t exactly doing those things yet.
I’d gone to junior high and high school with Marina, who became a sort of social gatekeeper, introducing me to a new group of friends. Of them all, Angie was the most unforgettable.
Angie was all tattoos, crazy hair, and heart. Her voice was brassy and loud and didn’t seem to have a volume button. I don’t even think the girl knew how to whisper. She always had a funny story to tell, which she often interrupted with her own loud laughter. She and Marina lived next door to Madrone, and it seemed the only drink they ever had was Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I hate that shit but always ended up drinking it simply because it was there.
Angie’s life and my life became deeply intertwined. We went to the same parties, hung out at the same bars, and popped by each other’s homes if we were in the neighborhood. We became closest, though, when I was working on my San Francisco and New York books. Angie loved maps. She was a cartographer, so when I wrote my cheap living guidebooks, she made the maps. Back then she talked a lot about a guy named Brewster.
Marina eventually joined the Peace Corps and moved to Azerbaijan. Angie and Brewster became an item, then married. She became one of those people who I only saw at going-away parties or ran into on the street. We’d hug and briefly catch up and she’d show me her newest weird tattoo.
These kinds of things are typical in SF. You get older; your group of friends becomes smaller. The people who don’t move away become part of your city environment. You take them being in your life, even peripherally, as a given. You take their existence for granted.
Recently, I got a cryptic text from Marina: “Angie passed away on Sunday night.”
I don’t have all the details yet, but how she died isn’t nearly as important as how she lived.
About a month ago, I saw Angie riding by on her bike. I was gonna call out her name, but I was in a rush and figured I’d just run into her again soon. Now, knowing I’ll never hear her deep loving laugh again, I wish I’d taken the extra five minutes just to say, “hello.” The hardest part about getting older is discovering that not all the people you love will get to do so with you.
So this is for you, AngiePants. The crafty girl who crocheted a holder for her TV remote control while she and Marina binge watched “X-Files.” The hilarious girl who laughed the hardest at her own jokes and never knew how loud she was talking. The sweet girl who gave great hugs and lit up every room she walked into. The one who was so deeply a part of my San Francisco that it will never be the same without her. I love you Angie. If there is an afterlife, I hope it’s full of maps and Sierra Nevada.