Hanging Out

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When Jason was ill his junior year with mono, I asked him what cheered him up the most, in addition to doing his art and music. He said he liked hanging out with his friends, and he was really missing that. When I asked him what they did, he said they just hung out , and he was annoyed by any other questions. I thought I understood the message at the time, but I really get it now.

Jason was a master at hanging out. He was present, in the moment, enjoying the beauty and creativity of that instant. I’m getting it, and I’m doing it so much more in my life since Jason passed.

I hung out with Jason and his friends during the candle-lit walk through Ipswich, crossing the river a few times, a beautiful procession of lit faces sharing fond memories of their dear friend. It was a gorgeous night but very windy. A few of us noticed how Jason liked playing with us, getting us to focus keeping our candles lit and laughing about it, just like the intense heat of his funeral ceremony. Jason liked fire. He needed more of it when he was in his body, and he’s got it now.

I noticed my mind wondering where we were going, when we were going to stop and share memories by the river, wondering if Jason’s younger friends really wanted us older generation there, wondering if I “should” be spending time with my friends that invited to join us, as we flowed chaotically through town, putting out a plastic candle-holder fire along the way. I watched my mind and let it all go with ease.

This wasn’t about having an agenda. This was about hanging out. I learned it from you, Jason.

I totally get how Jason liked hanging with his friends. They’re pretty cool, artists like him. I enjoyed just hanging and listening to the sweet and funny sharings about their memories of Jason and how he inspired them and continues to inspire them in their lives. I enjoyed hanging with my friends in our home after the walk, not needing to organize anything, just talking, hugging, eating, laughing, and a bit of crying together.

Jason and I had 17 years of great hanging out time together. He taught me how to play, how to tune into my creativity, how to be in the moment and see beauty everywhere. I wasn’t always a patient student; I had work to do , I was distracted, I didn’t know how to handle his intense energy when he was bored and had to find something creative to do. I chose Jason in this lifetime to teach me how to hang out. Our best hangout times when he was a teenager and wasn’t into spending much time or words with me was to show me his latest art and music, to drive together and listen to great music we both loved, to hang out in the hammocks, or to throw a ball around with no game rules. I’ve enjoyed hanging out with new friends during our visits to intentional communities, and I feel Jason with us.

It was always a joy to witness Jason’s joy hanging out with his friends, from his first playgroup to his Beverly kid commune with Katie, Jackie, Hayley, and Alex, his elementary/middle school school friends Dustin, Gus, and Noah, and moving on to new artist friends in Ipswich in 8th grade. Hanging with his friends the other night, it felt like Jason with there, and I felt the joy. It was so great to have Gus and his mom Kerry stop by before the walk started, and to see Audrey and Casey in their black dresses together. I enjoyed getting to know more of Jason’s friends, such as Aliey and Samille, during the walk. I jumped up and down seeing Dustin, just back from China, and Evan and Willis, who came to my house after working late and missing the walk. Jason always loved surprises, and so do I.

I’ve spent a lot of time hanging in Jason’s studio since he passed. I’ve noticed how the energy has shifted from grief to celebration over the past year. I hang out with his photos and art on the walls, which will be taken down soon to be put in storage for our upcoming journey. I notice how I am feeling more neutral about this, knowing that the physical form of Jason, his photos, and his framed art, is just one way of staying connected with him. I’m getting the message that I am really ready to move.

Jason smiles watching me hang out, following my passion. I like hanging with him anytime, anywhere.