An old friend passed away today. Bobby was someone who insisted on enjoying life. Whether it was a Hispanic Festival in Carthage , a Reggae concert in Ault Park or a dance sampler at the Contemporary Arts Center, he could be found all over the city. We often found each other at the free snack table at events. His form of transportation was often amusing. I recall he had a big old white, kind of beat up station wagon for a while, as well as a Pacer that outlived its days. Often though, Bobby arrived at the varied destinations by taking the bus, or riding his bike, or combining the two, the bus would take him so far, and he would continue on with his journey on two wheels.
Often times, we’d connect in meetings. He liked the way I would sum up my thoughts by saying “I don’t know, I’m just glad to be here.” I think we both kind of lived by that philosophy. He would challenge the status quo at times. It bothered him that at some of the meetings people called on each other to speak next. When he spoke, he always asked if there was anyone who wanted to speak, who might not otherwise have the chance.
I never really knew what Bobby did outside of meetings and cultural events. I had a sense that he was a free spirit, working when he needed to, taking each day as it came. His demeanor was certainly laid back. His dress was casual, jeans and converse high tops. For his fancier outings, he topped off his outfit with a suit jacket. He had long black hair that had twisted naturally into dreadlocks over time.
He picked me up when I was down. After a particularly sad breakup years ago (weren’t they all devastating in your 20’s?), he told me things would be all right, and then he gave me one of my favorite nicknames, “top shelf”, which is the ultimate for a couple of ex-boozers.
When I’m out in the world, I’m going to miss Bobby. But hopefully, his way of embracing life and people will stay with me.