Tonight, we're all standing on our desks saluting our Captain Robin. Long before he became our teacher of life, laughter and poetry he was a student and college classmate alongside my mama...
My mama went to school with Robin Williams. Growing up she'd tell my brothers and I stories about the wild-eyed boy she'd see skipping through the Juilliard hallways. As a classical flutist, she shouldn't have run into him, but all the lockers in the classical wing were taken, so she was assigned a spot in the drama wing where she'd bear witness to daily scenes of silliness and the strange beauty of a star forming, with the same miraculous (and not-so-slightly manic) energy that whips celestial dust around to make something bright and new in the universe.
Tonight I asked my mama what she remembers of Robin, she told me these four specific scenes are captured perfectly in her memory:
She remembers the rainbow suspenders that would become his signature, holding up pants too big for his trim waist.
She remembers an elevator ride stopped short, stuck between floors, with the dashing and delirious boy who treated the whole ordeal like an improv exercise - at one moment heroic, declaring that he'd save them all, the next a fearful mouse cowering in the corner - all the while, a famous acting coach, arms folded, scowled unimpressed and my future-mom tried desperately to suppress her giggles.
She remembers every morning seeing snippets of action seen through the little rectangular window in his am-acting class' closed door. He'd fly through the frame, leaping like he was already peter pan. He'd sashay and flourish a french accent, twirling an invisible mustache. Then embracing his inner-caveman, he'd lumber by dragging a girl by her ponytail back and forth across the rehearsal floor.
She remembers the same boy sitting on the lunch table with his food on he chair below him, turned backwards and upside-down flipping the world and reshaping it to his own desire, every moment an opportunity to wreak delightful havoc, break form and reveal the joy of the ridiculous.
So, in honor of her long-lost classmate, of our teacher, our genie, our peter pan, our therapist, our nanny... Let's remember to seize the day, every day. Oh me, oh life, Robin Williams and Walt Whitman got it right:
"Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
#RobinWilliams #RIP #MakeGodLaugh #OhCaptain
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