Guest Columnist #71 - Emily writes about Sera

    I’m sitting on a white sandy beach, next to a Tea Tree-brown tinted river, looking out over the crashing waves of the Antarctic ocean.  And I cant stop thinking about Sera.
I was in Australia when I found out she was dead.  And I’m still here.
    My first reaction when I read the little black letters on the computer screen was to run to a phone.  "I’m coming home."  having been way out in the forests at logging blockades for some time, by the time I got back into the city to check my email and get the news, it was 1 day before her funeral, over a week before she decided to jump off that bridge.  the people I could reach on the phone told me what I was starting to think.  "its too late.  You shouldn’t come back."  And I didn’t.  And now I’m left without closure.
    So, I’m in Tasmania when I write this, on the south coast, the closest you can get to Antarctica, and the farthest from her.  I don’t have anyone here who knew her.  all I have to remind me, is 1 photo I carry with me...and my memories.
    For weeks now, I’ve been playing back images of her in my head, like old movies, the kind that you love and want to watch again and again.  I remember the first time we met, 4 years or so ago now, outside of ABC no Rio.  she had just dyed her then-short dreads pink, and dye was coming off all over her hands and neck.  I liked her instantly.  we talked for a good while with the ease of old friends, and after that, that’s what we were, for the years to come.
    Both traveling so much at the time, we kept meeting up all over the country, as soon as we saw each other, we'd talk nonstop about what we'd been doing since the last time, then proceed to have lots of crazy adventures.  drunken mishaps traveling to barnfest in my van, 6 months later, meeting back up on the west coast after I returned from far away lands, running around having shoplifting contests and eating dumpstered cliff bars, wheat-pasting flyers of a missing man with a very nice mullet that we found in the junk mail, riding freight in the freezing rain down to Eugene en masse, so many people that we were 2 to a grainer.  she and I rode together, soaking wet, trading stories about all things waterproof.  meeting up later that summer in the midwest, riding bikes to the lake and singing old train songs, and how much she loved the song 'the last cannonball'.  we'd play it over and over until someone yelled at us to turn it off.  id always find her listening to it in a corner somewhere, and how it always made her cry.  id find her with tears streaming down her cheeks,  and we'd laugh and go cook dinner.
    I remember when she left to go ride trains back east, alone.  she was the first woman id met who had ridden that far alone, and, a few weeks later, I was inspired by her, and riding that same line back east, alone.  we met up there, laughing about our adventures, and she decided to come with me on that fateful trip to Montreal where we made friends with all the workers in the selkirk yard, who showered us with presents, and then we were getting strip-searched together in a Canadian jail cell in the suburbs of Montreal.  I left for Europe soon after that summer, and ended up not returning to America for a long while.  still she was one of the first people whom I went to visit when I came back a few months ago, and spent a lot of time with her again, in the short 5 weeks I was waiting for my visa that would enable me to come here, to Australia.  she had cut off her long dreadlocks and had short black hair, but was so much the same, we rode bikes around Philly together, talking about relationships and travel plans for the future, reminiscing about our past together.  America seemed so different to me when I came back then, after being away for so long, like a foreign land.  it was so good to be with her, on halloween when I walked up to a crowd of people whom I barely knew, and to have her run out and hug me, wearing streaks of black face paint.  "what are you supposed to be?"  I asked her.  she gave me a withering look.  "I’m a neo-pagan tribal crusty goddess, of course!"
    And we laughed.  and that was one of the last times I ever saw her, and it is so hard to believe that it will be, forever.  she was writing a novel, planning to go to Europe, the who concept that she's gone seems just so unreal, like a dream.  I think a lot about going back to America this summer, to go see the bridge where she decided to end her life, and to talk to others who are shocked and missing her like I am.  one positive thing that I can say I’ve noticed is that Sera's death is becoming a catalyst of sorts.  its bringing a lot of people closer together, to deal with this, but to also realize how important and precious friendships are.  as a community that is a rather nomadic and transient one, it is even more important that we can acknowledge the importance of each other, even if we're far away in physical body.  loneliness and isolation plague out society and touch all of us.  wee need to break the feeling that we're all alone in a fucked world, and be there for each other.  maybe it would have made a difference for Sera.  there's no way to change her decision, so all I, and we, can do is keep her alive in our memories and actions.
    When I was hiking along this green trail here, at the end of the world, I found 4 beautiful purple moth wings.  that night, I dreamed that I was back in Philly, years in the past, and how there were 4 of us on Mike Straight's roof, gazing over the hazy city, Sera, Katie, Heather, and me.  I’m my dream, we all turned into one of the purple moth wings, and jumped off the roof, fluttering slowly to the ground.
    When I awoke, there were only 3 left.
-Emily c/o talamh_aerth@hotmail.com  (email from 2002)