string of thought

has it been this long
a dozen years or so
a few moments together
whizzing towards Santa Monica
friendly words exchanged
the air untouched by winter’s breath
I didn’t know
this would be the last time
we’d smile goodbyes
never again after that day
I watched you drive away
the sun dropping slowly in the sky
your red car shrinking in the distance
it has been so long
still I can recall
the sunset in Santa Monica

Ten years ago today, Neal P. Underweiser left this world after an accident on the freeway. It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since he died. He was my last manager at Festival Cinemas and he kept in touch with a few of my Festival friends through the years. I saw him at a couple of weddings and heard of him here and there and twelve years ago, I saw him for the last time.

It was the Santa Monica Hercules/Xena convention and I needed a ride from the airport to Santa Monica. Mr. U, as I always called him though he insisted we call him Neal when we no longer worked for him, was so kind to pick up me and my friend from the airport and drive us to the hotel in Santa Monica. I don’t remember what we might have said. I remember whizzing down the freeway in his 1992 red Ford Mustang.

We probably said happy goodbyes when it was time. I know I told him thank you for driving us. I remember watching his car grow smaller as he drove away. I remember that the sun was on its way down.

I never thought that would be my last memory of him…

It’s funny how I came about remembering Mr. U. The other day, I think Monday, I suddenly thought of Santa Monica. The rather lovely night with the stars filling the sky above reminded me of walking around near the convention site with my friends one of the nights during the convention. Santa Monica was one of my favorite conventions because it was really about being with my friends. Oh, and meeting Ryan Gosling. But seriously, those times with my friends was what made it a great time for me.

This morning my dear OT text me about watching RED and how seeing Karl Urban made her think of me. I text back how much I miss our convention days and how I was just thinking of Santa Monica the other night.

Santa Monica reminded me of Mr. U and I decided to do a quick internet check on him. Sometimes I like to google people for whatever reason. And in that search, I found the dates of his birth and death. I stared at the date for a full minute. January 26, 2001. Exactly ten years ago. What were the chances that I would think of him on the 10th anniversary of his death? And has that much time really passed?