This picture was taken at a gift exchange he insisted on having. He’d given me this sweatshirt. We’d given him this camera. The morning before, we had all gone Christmas shopping at Nordstrom, his favorite. We had breakfast in the café there and took a photo by a Christmas tree near the men’s department. A very Dorff day.
These little vignettes were in a season of so many Dorff days. When a day didn’t pass without some sort of communication, and your absence from a Dorff hang merited an explanation to make him feel better, in a childlike way that never felt odd. He required more thoughtful attention and it was his charm. It allowed him to sift through strangers and acquaintances and find his family. And when so many of us were so far from home, or didn’t feel like we fit there, or wherever - he had a front porch that somehow fit us all on it. Like an island, and in that season, we survived on it together.
I miss that season. I sometimes think about how it wouldn’t matter if he were here or not - because seasons change. Maybe we’d have all scattered like the leaves brushing down Blair Boulevard. Or maybe we would still be gathered around him at The Palm, drinking too much and celebrating some little thing in perfect proportions. But he isn’t here, and so it feels more certain and final than just a shift in sundown or a change in the air.
December is when I miss Andrew the most. It’s when the world got him and when the world lost him. I miss his oversized Christmas trees and his Christmas Story collection. I miss his leg lamp tattoo and those ratty old gloves with no fingers. I miss the smell of cigar smoke mixed with the chill of winter. I miss his annual mall Santa Clause photo that he’d pass out to you, if you were lucky. And I miss sharing my spirit with a person that loved Christmas as much as I do - a youthful spirit I didn’t have to be grown out of. Not with Andrew.
Last week, I got to spend an evening with the faces of those olden days, of just a few years ago. I heard songs playing in the background that took me back to that house on Sweetbriar and that porch on Blair..... (Continued in comments)