September

We vacation with friends the first week of September. We go to the Outer Banks, rent an ocean front house, and spend a week with people that we don’t see often enough. I think of this trip as the end of summer. It’s often followed by hurricane drama, except when we’re unlucky, and it’s interrupted by hurricane drama. After this trip, the holiday season starts and my social calendar gets filled up, although usually not with all the same people. Not the same way. There is no other part of the year that is filled with lazy hours of casual conversation with opportunities for spontaneous discovery, the kind of conversations it was so much easier to have when young and unencumbered. That’s the real beauty of the beach. It’s an opportunity to roll back the clock, in a weird way, for a fleeting glimpse at a less responsible time. I wouldn’t want a steady diet of it, but it sure is nice for a little while.

Like Anakin Skywalker, I don’t like sand, but I love these people and I’m so happy to have the opportunity to spend time with them every year.

Karen Jones

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The first time I remember meeting Karen Jones was at a Halloween party in New York City. She was wearing a custom made Jedi costume that looked amazing on her. I remember wishing my costume was that cool. I don’t remember what I was wearing, but I’m sure it was something lame cobbled together at the last minute. The other thing I remember from that meeting was Karen’s big smile and that soft southern accent that said she was from Tennessee.

Despite her roots, Karen loved New York and I’m fairly certain New York loved her right back. I don’t know anyone who didn’t like her. She was smart and funny and really fun to be around. Although I didn’t see her often, she had a significant impact on my life. For example, Karen gave me my first Xbox 360. For a gamer like me, that’s a big deal. Also, keep in mind that she lived in New York and didn’t drive, so she dragged an Xbox 360 console, two controllers and all the cords through the streets of New York, on to the subway, and then carried it down to the Hilton near the Javits Center where I was staying. That’s a long haul, but she wanted me to have it, so she brought it. She was really cool that way.

Karen also got my husband into the first and only inaugural ball he’s ever attended. She took him as her “date.” I used to tease her that she was the only woman I ever let date my husband. And she’d laugh. Karen had a big laugh and a big smile and I miss it.

Karen died last week. And even though she lived in New York and I live in Virginia, her absence is keenly felt. I was used to seeing her post on Twitter on a regular basis and I’ve watched her beautiful little nieces growing up on Facebook. I have spent weeks with her at the beach, and I’ve been to parties with her, and had her over for Thanksgiving, and we talked on the phone occasionally, but we didn’t see each other regularly, but thanks to the internet, it felt like I saw her way more often than I actually did.

We shared a love of silly T-shirts, video games, and general foolishness. It’s hard to imagine she won’t be there to banter with on Twitter, or to answer my web design questions, or to talk personal finance with. Despite her fun demeanor, Karen was serious when it came to financial responsibility and all of us admired her for it. We’ve had many money talks over the years and I always valued her opinion. It’s hard to lose one of your go-to people and Karen was one of mine. I know she played that role in a lot of lives and that there are many people out there, friends and family, who are heart broken right now. She will be missed.

Colin&Karen