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Thinking About an Old Friend

Submitted by Joe El Rady on August 11, 2010 – 5:16 amComments

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Union JackMy old friend Alex was an anarchist. Raised that way. His father was an anarchist. His mother was anarchist. They fought the communists in Russia by running an underground museum. He was unshaven. He liked coffee shops. He liked lamenting the woes of communism. He liked wearing dark glasses, a beret and speaking only in Russian. He had a Union Jack during our semester abroad at Oxford. Hung it upside down.

Alex held his beliefs tightly: knew the world; what he liked. He wrote tracts condemning Stalin. Called him a peanut. Didn’t drink warm beer—too uncivilized. Could quote every line of A Clockwork Orange.

We studied together, but I tried never to enter the University library with him. He considered stealing books a virtue. Called it, “liberating information.” To him, the institution represented the USSR. Smuggled books in backpacks eroded the monolith one by one.

Face full of verve, head full of ideas, he lived with a smirk out the right corner of his mouth. He knew the hardships of survival in Russia. Knew the hardships of survival in Oregon.

Once in a while, when I pass by an English store, or have a cup of traditional English tea, I think about my time in England, and my old friend Alex. He’s an original. Funny I should think about him now, when I’m making so many unconventional choices in my own life. Guess sometimes the mark left by a friend appears a decade later. I wonder where he is these days. I bet he lives in Seattle and drives a convertible. Probably considers that optimism.

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