March 2, 2012

Mark Bourne: Always Singin' in the Rain

Mark in San Francisco 2012

Last week, our friend Mark Bourne died. While he had had some major health issues in the past, things seemed to be going well for him. In fact, when we saw him a few days beforehand, he looked and seemed fine. Not "I wish he looked better" fine, but really FINE! What the F***!

Like all his friends, and especially his wife Elizabeth and stepson Austin, it has been hard grappling with this Mark-less world. But is it? Or is it just that we can't email him or phone him up or have a glass of wine with him? I do know that he made a difference in our lives, as well as that of many others.

To be honest, I don't remember exactly when we met Mark, but I do remember where. We were at Powell's, in the science fiction section, and K.W. was signing the author pillar. Mark came up to us and introduced himself. Now, a lot of you may not realize it, but K.W. can be a bit shy with strangers. But Mark, in his usual Markish way, didn't pay any attention to K.W.'s initial demeanor. He just smiled, chatted away, and invited us to get together with him and Elizabeth. And so we did.

Parties at the Bournes to celebrate various holidays and milestones, backyard barbecues at the Jeters where much Navarro wine was consumed, brunches at Wild Abandon — many good times. Through it all, Mark was at the center, creating different ways and various combinations to introduce his friends to one another. 

One of the most felicitous stemmed from Mark's well-known love for classic movie musicals. Once he discovered that K.W. and David Delamare were also fans — pick a couple of musicals, lay in the wine, and presto-chango — party time. We were at David and Wendy's place when the guys decided that they formed an unusual subset — and hey, gang, let's form a club — Straight Guys Who Love Musicals!

This guy loved movies!! And it is when watching them that I always think of Mark: The Third Man, the original King Kong, anything Marx Brothers, Fred Astaire, or Gene Kelly, especially Singin' in the Rain, one of his all-time top picks. In fact, every time I watch that film, it never fails. My inner head voice says, "That's one of Mark's favorites." 

We were very lucky that even when Mark, Elizabeth, K.W., and I left Portland for Seattle and Las Vegas, we all managed somehow to keep in touch. It was made easier because Austin was at school in Las Vegas, where we were living. Then, Austin signed on for grad school in San Francisco at about the same time we were returning here. More fun visits over the last year and a half. The most recent was only two weeks ago. Dinner and drinks in Hayes Valley on a Saturday night and coffee in the Inner Richmond on Monday afternoon before they left for home on Tuesday. We spent most of the time talking about happy futures for us all.

Damn. We will miss him. 

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