Dear Diary:
Death and Youth


Remembering how nearly I almost fell into crankiness yesterday, I was going to write about my new weekend regime, which is centered on the idea that Sunday is a day of rest. Of rest and review. Of cooking my head off, if friends are coming to brunch. What it is not for: organizing closets, sorting through old Christmas cards — you know what I’m talking about. La drudgerie. On Sunday, the apartment ought to sport very clear decks.

And it didn’t, certainly not yesterday. But never mind about all of that now. Ever since I read the latest page at Number 27, Jonathan Harris’s often engaging Web site, I haven’t been able to summon much interest in my housekeeping problems. Sorrow, occasioned by the death of a bright young man over the weekend, won’t let go. I feel the dimensions of the hole that his dying has left in the lives of his bright young friends, certainly; but, as a new grandfather, my heart lurches out to his parents.

So here is the link. “How sad,” indeed. “How very sad.”

My friend Jean Ruaud discovered Mr Harris’s Web site during the holiday season, and I’ve been following it ever since. Pretentious as this sounds, I think of Number 27 as a Bildungsblog, as the record of a man’s character development. Not that one’s character ought to be very fluid by the time of one’s thirtieth birthday — the occasion that inspired Mr Harris to inaugurate his photo-a-day site. In today’s world, however, thirty is the new thirteen, minus the hormones, at Mr Harris’s level of privilege. Life has been so varied and interesting that it is only now beginning to sink in that some of the varied and interesting people with whom his path has intersected do not themselves lead varied and interesting lives. In fairness, perhaps, it sank it some time ago, but I sense, in the epigrammatic, sometimes vatic notes that Mr Harris strikes, that my point is being felt and discovered. 

This must be why, even though the young man is in his physical prime and quite capable of taking care of himself, Jonathan Harris seems to me to be one of the most vulnerable creatures on earth. Because of his very giftedness (which he still hasn’t sorted out, of course), one senses the gods’ gimlet stare, poring for a weak spot. Isn’t that what happened to poor Tom over the weekend? (I almost typed, “the weakened.”) It’s not clear whether anybody knows why Tom toppled from his fire escape — but it doesn’t seem to matter. At some fatal level or other, he lost his balance, and that is all there is to it.

Now I shall stop, lest I compound my presumption.

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