I want to apologize for the lack of activity around here on Tuesday—I was reached by news of the sudden death of Marina Finch, an old college buddy from Dartmouth, and I was just plain feeling sad all day. Memories kept coming back to me all day long. And I was beset with regret—I always assumed I would see Marina again someday, and I just took that for granted for far too long.
Marina lived a very interesting life. She was an EMT and a scalloper out of Sconset, a village at the eastern end of Nantucket island. Out of college, she spent winters in Colorado, waiting tables at night and skiing in the daytime; summers, she'd do the same on Nantucket, spending the days at the beach. This went on for so long that her friends worried she'd never settle down. Finally, in an effort to get serious with her life, she joined the Peace Corps—which promptly dispatched her to an outrageously beautiful island in the South Pacific, where she was given the best apartment on the island in return for teaching English to bright-eyed island children. "I can't win," she wrote. Can't lose, was more like it.
She married a guy who was a pilot for an island-hopping airline, I heard, and that's when I lost touch with her. I didn't even know she was back on Nantucket, and obviously she'd been there for a long time.
Marina was one of those people who have such strong, outsized personalities that, once you know them, you can never forget them. She had great spirit, strong, almost volatile passions when I knew her, a keen intelligence, and always, always a deep and abiding sense of humor. She left friends literally all over the world—tributes poured in from Scotland, New Zealand, the mountains, the seashores, both coasts. I wouldn't have guessed I had ten memories of the times we spent together—I don't remember much from those days, an unfortunate side effect of pre-recovery addictions—but as the day wore on I rediscovered ten times that many, back in the recesses of my mind. Put the Grateful Dead on and raised a glass of club soda.
That's the bitch about middle age. Pretty much everybody makes it through their first fifty years; pretty much nobody makes it through the second fifty. It's only a question of when. The first to go are never easy for those who stay. My thoughts go out to her family.