Monday, February 7, 2022

History and Friends, thinking about Trey and all of us lost in perpetual contemplation


trey....lewis-harlen-johnson, RIP.
Rita Henry. 

History and Friends, thinking about Trey and all of us lost in perpetual contemplation 

Rev. Julie Johnson Staples preached about a dialogue between the past and the present on Sunday at Judson.

It was an eventful week, first in person classes in a year and a half. Classes on diversity and intersectionality, human sexuality, on and on, unpacking stories about our history, looking at the past, unpacking our moment, overlapping intersections between sex and class, gender and sexuality. Students laughing out Jay Street. Black history month reminded us.  Black history is all of our histories. 

“We are taught that safety lies always with sameness, then difference, of any kind, will appear as a threat,” writes Bell Hooks in All About Love. “When we choose to love we choose to move against fear - against alienation -  and separation. The choice to love is a choice to connect - to find ourselves in the other.”

Can we find ourselves in the other? 

It was long week of trying,

With memories of Trey, talking with each other.

Phone calls and text messages from far and wide.

Drinking Guinness with Caroline. 

Dying hair with the kids.

Hanging with my homies, visiting Al. 

Saloning with Andrew at the Magician.

Saying goodbye to Trey. 

Looking at our city with Greg, 

Chatting with Mom about living and loving through time. 

Walking through Williamsburg with the teenager on her way back to LA. 

Sitting at Barely Disfigured with Gene and Caroline and Mary M. 

Off to Julius with Eric, talking about Charles and Keith, politics with Tim, thinking about Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki.

Drag history with Ken and John and on and on, celebrating a birthday. 

The past, present and future connected, world history, all our history. 

This is our now. 

The future is now, bringing us together, says Rev. Julie Johnson Staples.

Chinese New Year. Tigers on the street.
Let's grab that future, Rev. Julie concludes. 


Remember it all. 

Feel it, remember it. 

“Love, experienced thus, is a constant challenge; it is not a resting place, but a moving growing, working together, even whether there is harmony or conflict, joy or sadness, is secondary to the fundamental fact that two people experience themselves from the essence of their existence…” says Erich Fromm The Art of Loving… p. 87.

Thinking of Trey, tuning onto zoom, to say hi to a few old friends, saying goodbye to our friend, fallen way too soon. 

Jenn and Colin and Kurt and Dave,

I was listening in Brooklyn, Karmi from Tel Aviv. 

Watching our old friends come together to say goodbye. 

Everyone in black suits in Dallas,

Thinking of a love story between Trey and Jen. 

I scribbled down a few notes as everyone told stories.

We just need somebody who can lighten the load this week, said Jen. 

That would have been Trey, if he was here.

But maybe he was?

In 1985, every girl who had a crush on Trey, she gushed.

That was the moment he knew we’d be together forever. 

Thinking of the guardian angels, the cops she knew from her yoga class who came to help her when Trey fell, doing all they could.

Thank you the Grenada and everywhere that Trey played around town.

The State Fair of Texas, the Barley House, etc. 

I hope I can keep the inspiration going without you. 

Thank you to the musicians who played his music today. 

At least I’m not Dadless. I’m Treyless. 

Trey and I spent a lot of time talking about spirituality.

We are all connected.

Leaning on love is an incredible way to live.

Including embracing tragedy.

We went deep.

Meditation opened something for us. 

He was reading James Allen and David Hawkins,

The Budda in your mirror. 

I’m going to keep going with my kids.
I know he’ll be with us. 

The universe and love is my religion, I would say to him, not something formal. 

He said all I had to do was understand the message within scripture. 

Christianity had amazing messages.

It was a language.

He learned from religion in a beautiful way. 

Think of the 23rd Psalm. 

Trey gave myself, Dylan, and Will the Lords Prayer, and asked us to memorize it. 

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name.”

Each of us have it with us by your bed. 

This is for you Trey. 

Everyone recited the familiar prayer. 


That's all she wrote y’all. 

Jenn’s right, he’s in here, said James, Trey’s brother. 

I don’t know about you, I could walk with my head higher after I talked with him. 

He knew me… everything… took me to the state fair.

It was surreal talking with my brother about things. 

He never judged me for feeling the way I did. 

He helped me work through things. 

The power of this guy was his humility. He commanded respect without demanding it. 

Life comes at you in a million different directions.

Keep pushing through it. 

Joy, sadness, pain - keep pushing through it. 

It's sad, it's painful, what we are going through. We don’t have to do it alone. 

As sad and painful as it is, at least we’re together.

That's the community that he built. 

I still wanna know why he was gone too soon. 

A compressed timeline. 

I’ll carry it with me. 

No question that Trey left his stamp on the world. 

This is a rough one. 

We’ll push through this together. 

I love you brother. 

One more time. 

Thinking of the smile.

It was about what he could do for you. 

I’m truly grateful for being Trey’s sister and was allowed to be at his table, said Ginna. 

He just loved driving… aimlessly. 

Things were always better when he was involved.

I need to throw down some food, he’d say. 

He would pick them up early. 

Go home and have a margarita with your husband, he’d tell me, cause everyone loves a margarita. There is so much more to life than this. 

I couldn’t close it out without reading from a line from Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankyl, one of his favorite books. 

I saw the truth as it is set in song.

The truth is that love is the ultimate goal.

The salvation of man is through love. 

“The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite Glory.”

Trey believed in the power of the communal spirit. 

He brought out an instant friendship in people, an existential bond. 

Listening to the sermon, the kids are downstairs playing. 

Sun shining in winter in Brooklyn as I’m thinking about my friends in Texas.

Trey moving in one direction, 

The teenager planning to make her way out West, back to school after another strange covid pause into online school.

And the rest of us here for a bit. 

The service continues, moving into its second hour. 

Every block of stone has an angel inside, Michelangelo knew it. He saw that.

The angels were released from inside. 

Blessed are those who plant trees under whose shade will never set. 

Thank y’all very much. 

My favorite eulogy was by Colin, who recalled a quixotic quest for munchies with his old friend.

“I’m Colin and Trey Johnson was one of the first friends I made transferring to a new school in 7th grade. I don’t remember our first meeting, but I know we bonded over Sports and music.     

Sports and music

Scattered over the last  forty years,  We played, watched, and talked about sports and We played, listened to, talked about and wrote music.  There were other interests and events, but these two things were the foundation of our friendship.

In the middle eighties, 7-11 had a variation of it’s hot dog that was a sausage like thing called the Smokey Big Bite.   A hybrid hot dog with imitation smoke flavor target marketed to our fast metabolism.  It was after a party sometime in 1985 that Trey and I stopped at 7-11 to eat before going back to his house to crash.  As we stood around the complimentary condiment bar, eating our Smokey Big Bites, we realized this particular condiment bar didn’t have pickled jalapeño slices,  they weren’t just out, they didn’t even offer them. …and then we figured out there were no rules governing the menu of condiments at 7-11.    The realization that we were, truly, in the Wild West of Condiment Bars led us to devise a quest.

Trey’s laugh is confrontational and frequent.  It’s power and fervor,  as he leans into it, dares you not to laugh with him.

It was this laugh that solidified our plan.  We spent the next two hours going to every 7-11 in a  five mile radius, getting a Smokey Big Bites and judging each on visual appeal, consistency, and time on the rollers

…and then evaluating the condiment bar; number of items available, were the onions fresh, pickled jalapeños? What about the vats of queso and chili??

By the time we threw in the towel, we had evaluated, compared and contrasted 7 Smokey Big Bites each and their corresponding condiment bars. We went back to Trey’s house to sleep in the glorious air-conditioning of the back room at the Harvest Hill house.  We didn’t declare a winner that night, and that’s ok.  It was Trey’s effortless and maniacal enthusiasm for a pointless, ill advised contest of our own creation that is one of my memories to keep.  

He is my friend, my brother,  and I miss him already.”

Be fearless, be you, and choose happiness, said Kurt, Jen’s brother. 

The service opened with the 23rd psalm, ending with the Serenity Prayer. 

When you did it to the least of these you did to me. 

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, ... Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other. 

Reinhold Niebuhr drafted the prayer in the early 1930’s.

It's good to be home. 

Willie sang.

Everyone walked to the reception.

Willie’s notes filled the room. 

 Somewhere over the rainbow.

Earlier in the day, 

Allan posted a note:

Allan Hayslip
This cuts deep, Trey. You've been there all my life--all the bits I can remember--since we were five. The tether that connects us has stretched and wound around corners, over many miles and minutes, roping things in, setting boundaries. In the privilege of that connection, it never dawned on me that the tether would break. Monday I found out a broken tether comes with a broken heart, if not two. I don’t know anyone who isn’t broken-hearted for you and your families. I’ve never met a sane person who didn’t like you. Your smile, intuition and talent has touched worlds of people like it has touched me. We’re all better for having known you, and we’re all worse-off without you. I was reminded this week that I often make little choices that are influenced by what you might think. For every rare text or phone convo we’ve had lately, I had ten other talks with the Trey that lives in my experience. I have never gone wrong using the example of your good-faith as a polestar. Of course I feel guilty for taking you/us for granted. There’s no good reason my imaginary conversations with you couldn’t have been real, even for someone as busy as you, and as awkward as I. I regret not connecting more with the beautiful little family you and Jen have built--I think it disappointed you, but you knew it’s about my wounds, not yours. I love your successes as a person, father, friend, and artist. I’m so proud of you, and to have known you. You achieved a better version of the ridiculous stuff we imagined in your 7th grade bedroom, starting our first band. There’s small solace knowing it has been safe to loosen our mutual orbits over the years, because we maintained our friendship by encouraging one another to be totally free. When our paths inevitably re-crossed I was met with humor, kindness, celebration of our discoveries, and much-needed forgiveness. I’m so grateful for your gift to me: the feeling of effortless certainty in your friendship and brotherhood.”

And now, all I can think of is Trey driving aimlessly, through time.

hanging with my homies. 

From Tim Murphy and Hucklefaery Ken and friends to you. thanks for all you do Eric Sawyer !!!

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