This was hard to read. I was asked if I could write, and desperate for a job I sent this link because it is the only sample of my writing I have online. Anyway, its been close to five years since Ian passed, and it really does not get any easier. Small things hurt, a familiar scent, a familiar situation, a joke with no one to tell it to that would understand... But this all sounds like one big letter of complaint and thats not me, or it shouldn't be anyway. I posted these photos with the title "goodnight" and then fell asleep for five years. I can say one thing, is I am happy that I exist, because people going through this type of pain really need the right kind of support. Its not just the victim of the disease, but the caretakers that die. We still walk around, living and breathing, but every breath stings, and its like you are living in the absence of a book you once read, your favorite book. So I think I had different intentions for "goodnight" when I first wrote this entire blog in a day.
Last summer, Ian made his first surfboard. He called it the Shred Sled. I've never seen a man get so angry and so happy at the same time. The shaping part was a cake walk for Ian, he came home from shaping with a surfboard that looked like a spaceship had just dropped it off for him. Super sleek, squared nose, lightweight and short. Just how he liked em. But the glassing part was a whole other story all together. He would run up and down the stairs cursing and dripping asking me if he could use my pen to stir a pot of gook he had dripping in his hand. The first time he tried to glass the board, it never dried... we would probably still be waiting for it to dry. But he somehow fixed it, because he fixed everything, he was just like that. He measured the ratios right and it worked. Then came the sanding, he sanded for days, so much love and hate went into that board while he was sanding...he was outside for days. He knew I missed him so eventually he set me up on some saw horses and taught me how to repair the pink board that he had destroyed a few weeks earlier. He had bought this resin tint to use to add some color to the board, it was blue. That summer, everything had blue handprints on it. Our dish towels, his shorts, his favorite sweater, the dog would leave blue pawprints on the ground.
These pictures, were taken on the fourth of July 2012. Ian was sanding the board all day that day, and didn't want to go to any parties. I was working on a Brand Bible for our surf company that we had opened called Open The Inside Door. Ian is pictured below, holding the brand bible that I had made for our company. Tag Line: Surf Together.
Ian was one of those people, who could roll a joint... while driving. One of the select few who can drive with their knees, thats probably why he got into so many accidents. When I met him he was driving a little white volkswagen that had a smashed front windshield and a wrecked drivers side door, the drivers side window would not roll up and was stuck permanently open. The damages were both from separate accidents. The windshield had been from him breaking so hard last minute and his surfboard smashing right into the front windshield. I thought that was cute.
We drove around a lot Ian and I. My being in photography school and him being a surfer, we ended up at a lot of beaches. I was constantly scouting out a new location and he was constantly scouting out a new wave. It worked out perfectly. One spring, Ian's parents Susan and Travis came to visit, and stayed in San Clemente. They thought they could watch us do our beach thing. The only problem was that their was a huge storm and the waves were frightening, no one was out.
We tried our luck at trails, because I also had a photography final due the next day... "A Day In The Life of a Surfer"... Ian was the only one who would go out for me that day. Even though we made complete asses of ourselves and caught zero waves, we had a lot of fun, like we always did.
I was having a lot of trouble learning how to surf. Especially at Bay Street because we would always go after work/school and it was just these close outs right into the sand. I was getting so frustrated with myself, one time I came home and cut my hair off. It was getting that bad, like crazy lady bad. Ian decided to make me my own special board. The K-fish. He would observe my crappy surfing and think up possible solutions for my problems. I would always bail on a steep wave, because I would always pearl... this was the biggest problem. So he gave the K-fish a suuuuuuper buoyant nose, this thing couldn't pearl even if I tried. He worked for so long on the design of the board and then finally, the execution of it was just perfect. First day I took it out, it was a glassy morning, and I caught every wave I went for.
The Shred Sled was Ian's first board. It was designed to have fun surfing in small waves. Sometimes the waves would be so small you needed a little more buoyancy, but also it was small enough and the shape was just perfect for shredding those big waves. Our biggest problem, we realized later (in Mexico) was that these super buoyant boards are pretty hand to paddle out in big surf. You have to treat it like a longboard and turtle. Duck diving is just kind of out of the question. When we were in Mexico, we kept getting washed back to the beach. I still remember his perfect sweet feet in front of me, and him turning around to see if I had made it through the last set.
When starting your own business, its always a lot of spend spend spend in the beginning. We were pretty low on cash during the holidays to say the least. But, ironically, I remember this time with Ian as being my most happiest holidays that I have ever spent. We agreed that money on weed, would be our entertainment money, and that we would cook at home instead of going out. We had so much fun, making our business plans, working on our logo, fucking around, making love, watching awful movies on Netflix, eating Chile, drinking cheap wine, it was the best.
We were both saving money to buy one another absurdly expensive christmas presents. He took me on a J-Crew shopping spree (J-crew was my jam that year) and I bought him a ridiculously expensive Warriors of Radness jacket.
Some Sundays Ian would take me to a bottomless chempagne brunch in culver city. He didn't like to drink because of his cancer, but would still allow me to embarrass myself on an occasional bottomless extravaganza. One of these extravaganzas lead to Ian and Jesse helping me design a potential tattoo for my arm. I went bananas and made Ian take me straight to the tattoo.
This was the first picture I ever saw of Ian. I had met him online and was completely taken with him immediately. I loved the particular shade of blue that his eyes were, and the deepness to them, deep as the ocean. I rang my friends and told them all about him. You know, shallow things like, "he's so hot" and "what should I wear?" The day after I had met him (online), I asked him to send me a picture of himself at his desk from his office. He was reluctant at first, but then sent me a picture that changed my life. The picture below is also Ian.
I remember walking around school that day with a weight in my heart. I sent him back a picture of myself that I took in the school bathroom. I drove home in a daze. I called him sometime around eight on that friday night, he asked me about school, I asked him about work... finally after the second glass of wine, I asked about the bald head.
He told me he had run into some bum luck, and had developed a rare form of cancer called, Synovial Sarcoma. He was having some trouble urinating and had to be hospitalized, at which point, the doctors had discovered that there was a mass the size of a golf ball in his bladder. He had a successful surgery, but unfortunately six months after that, the nasty disease showed up again in his liver. He was getting chemotherapy every month, and living each day to its fullest. He began to mention something about surfing, but I cut him off.
"I'm so sorry." I said, and then silence.
The next day, we had our first date. I had hurt my knee swing dancing a week earlier, so I wore my disgusting ugg booties and the outfit I am ironically wearing right now. We went to The Grove, he hated The Grove. I remember I made him drive all the way to the top of the parking lot, so that we could look at the view. He rolled us a joint, and we smoked in the car. I giggled like a little girl... I had already fallen so far in love there was no turning back. We walked to the Farmer's Market and he bought himself a piece of pizza. I was so nervous I couldn't eat. I told him I only ate sandwiches, he furrowed his brow. He knew I was lying.
He dropped me off after our little outing and I floated up the stairs. My room mate at the time asked me how it had gone. I went on and on about how tall and good looking he is, and that he has such a cool job, and how he was a designer like me, and that he was so funny, and that he has great style, and she finally stopped me and asked me about the cancer. Would I be able to love someone with cancer? would I be strong enough?
I remember not even having time to answer her, my phone was ringing and Ian was downstairs again. He had cancelled his dinner plans to spend more time with me. We drove around the neighborhood listening to music, we held hands, we kissed. I knew after that night, that I wanted to keep him with me forever, and that if Cancer wanted to take him from me, I wouldn't give him up with out a fight.
That monday he would begin a round of very harsh chemotherapy. It was Halloween. I had been texting with him the whole day, the second I was out of school I called him. I asked him if maybe he would want some company. After climbing about 75 stairs to reach his front door, I took a deep breath and knocked. There was a sense of urgency in my heart, I needed to be close to him, I hated the thought of him being alone. He answered the door, wearing a v neck t shirt and a red hoodie, there a was a beautiful grace to him, a meditative quiet splendor that made me want to know more and more about him.
I slept in his bed that night, and we played around with long exposures with my camera. The door to his room opened out to a beautiful little garden, I took pictures of our feet in the dark.
About a month into our relationship. Ian asked me if I could come with him to Kaiser West Los Angeles to get some test results from a scan he had taken some weeks ago. He introduced me to his oncologist Dr. P as his girlfriend and I was thrilled. The scan had shown that the tumor in his liver had shrunk, but that a few small "no big deal" tumors that she would "keep her eye on" had formed in his lungs. Ian saw this as a win! I remember him telling me how happy his mom would be. He called his mom from the car and I heard her cheering from the other end of the line.
His reward for these great results was to get to take a break from the chemo for a few months. His beautiful dark hair, eyelashes and eyebrows grew back almost overnight. He actually had to go on a work trip during this time, and when he got back, he looked completely different. He was the hottest guy I had ever seen. I pulled out my 4x5 camera and took his portrait. I wanted to keep this moment forever.
We had a lot of fun during this time. We fell so far in love, we were so beautiful. He would be designing shoes, I would be editing my photography. We would eat at the most hipster of spots and wear the most ridiculous hipster outfits. On New Year, his room mates all went to a party and we stayed home and then snuck off last minute to some fancy restaurant. I was wearing my gray ripped up crop top t shirt with ripped jeans that smelled like developer, and he was wearing his beautiful blue wool coat with the buttons. It looked like he had picked me up from off the street, but we didn't care. We ordered champagne and rand in the New Year, soooo happy.
The next day we spent the entire day in bed.
The unfortunate thing about Chemotherapy, is that it stops being effective after a while. I believe its because the cancer figures out a way to fight it, it gets used to it and therefore, Ian had to switch to a new form of chemotherapy once our short break was over. All the room mates in the house in Silverlake had decided to go their separate ways and Ian began to look for an apartment.
He found one, exactly 2 exits south of my exit on the 10 freeway. I moved in with him, while still keeping my apartment two exits over. Despite the hardships of chemo, we had the most amazing time in that little apartment. It was all our own and we could finally use the kitchen whenever we wanted. Ian bought up every cancer fighting cook book in town and we made the healthiest feasts you could ever imagine.
That summer, I was taking a color photography class. We had to pick a theme to shoot and I had picked surfing. Ian surfed every weekend with his friend Dave and I always felt so left out. It was amazing, even after the worst chemo, Ian would still wake up early every saturday and surf. He bought me a little pink single fin off craigslist then took me to ZJ's to get a wetsuit. I felt so super radical, and we would go surfing in Jimmy's Westfalia like we were the real deal. I mostly just walked around taking pictures of surfers as they walked around the beach. This was the first project in school that I was totally stoked on. I got a sweet tan, and I got to spend time with my sweet Ian every weekend.
Life moved forward, the fall came, Ian's hair started to fall out like the leaves on the trees. We kept surfing though, never really took a break. I finally felt like I was part of something that I could be proud of. Surfing had brought us even closer that summer, I didn't think we could possibly get any closer, but we did. We needed each other, more than air it seemed sometimes.
We were best friends.
That fall I also began taking a fine are photography class. My favorite teacher Sam Davis encouraged me to buy an underwater film camera, so that I could actually take pictures in the water, not just from the sand. I was ridiculous out there in the ocean just bobbing around, all caught up in the concept of the Sun and The Moon, and how they never get to meet. Only the ocean was their common ground, a place where they both could meet and stay together. The moonlight kissing the warmth of the water from the sun.
Im pretty sure Ian was embarrassed, but he always drove me to the beach and would get in the water, if he saw a good wave. A good wave, thats all it took.