Today I woke to sadness.
The news came last night. Charlie, one of the Woodfire crew, had passed suddenly.
I don't know that I could say he and I were "friends". I don't think that's the word. We held no deep palaver. We shared no secrets. Much of our time at the Woodfire was spent at opposite ends of the bar, with the occasional moseying from one end to the other to check the status of things. There's was always the initial entrance greeting. The call of farewells that belonged in an episode of Cheers.
I do think that he and I danced together once.
To be clear, it was often he and I shared a dance floor (along with the rest of the Woodfire crowd). What I mean is, I think I actually held him in my arms and swept him around the floor that one time. A sight to see, I'm sure.
Charlie was ever present, a fixture of the Woodfire itself and that which extended from the Woodfire in my life. He would appear at the lake when there was gathering at Christopher's home. He'd be around at this or that event in the small city of Dowagiac, a city greatly defined for me by it's little Italian trattoria/impromptu dance hall. He was a major part of the energy and life that existed in that room, in that magical space that we had.
This morning, as I write this, I am happy and sad and all of these things.
This morning, I realize something. I first entered that room with the last remnants of my boyhood. I learned to dance in public, to be myself, and to carouse with the best of them. I figured out how to have fun in spite of or, preferably, because of those around me. It was in that room that I learned to live my way and to share it with those around me. That was part of the magic of the Woodfire.
A small group shared that very special time and place. And Charlie was a part of that. The place won't be the same without him.
I don't know what the word for that is.
We will miss you, Charlie.