I used to see Frank on the Staten Island train all the time. (There's one train, it goes down one side of the island and ends at the SI Ferry which is how most Staten Islanders get to their Manhattan jobs.) At first he just reminded me a lot of another friend of mine, which may be why I had this strange feeling that he was a comic book fan. I remember once at the ferry terminal I dropped a printout of a Marvel handbook I was editing and he was the one that picked it up for me and I remember wondering if he looked at it. I saw him a few times a month but never talked to him. I just remember feeling that we would be friends if we knew each other. I don't know why, I just knew it.
Then one day at the New York Comicon (might've been the first one, I can't remember), I'm working the Marvel booth and I look over and see him talking to Brian Michael Bendis. Worlds colliding! I went over to Brian and said to him "I see this guy on my train all the time!" Frank looks at me and says "You're the comic book girl!! That's what I call you in my head!" Brian tells me Frank is a member of his message board, of which I also belong.
Later, I'm talking to Brian and he has this whole idea that there was going to be some romance here. I said he's crazy and just then Frank walks back over to the booth and says hello. "What are you doing here still?" "I work at Marvel." "Oh shit! I thought you just liked comics, I had no idea!" Then he mentions how he either just got from or was going to Jamaica with his fiancée. We talk a little more and he leaves and I turn to Brian and say "see??" (I later met his fiancée, she's a sweet, lovely woman who I imagine is a mess right now. I hope she gets through this ok.)
What followed after that were a series of train rides where we got to know each other. Talked about Bendis message board gossip, Staten Island gossip, his art, my job, our mutual friends, all the stuff you talk about with a new friend. I went to one of his art shows in Manhattan. I remember seeing him at a Halloween show on Staten Island. I was dressed as V (for Vendetta) and he was the first person to guess it was me. He had an art show on Staten Island, from which I bought one of his painting (so glad I did that). I really liked being his friend.
Eventually he bought a house in a different part of Staten Island and I didn't see him on the train anymore. We communicated a little bit via various internet means. Then I moved to Queens and was even further separated. It's one of those things where you always think there will be time to reconnect. There isn't. I am so crushed by this. The reality of "I will never see this person again" is just so ... heartbreaking.
Everyone goes through there daily lives and sees the same people there every day, it's so rare you see someone and take note and just KNOW that you would be friends if you met. That we actually DID become friends is so amazing and I am so happy for that.
I will always miss him.
|Frank drew this robot version of me.|