John Clemens' Tribute
John Clemens at
Bill Cleary was
more than a talented writer, more than an editor,
or good photographer. He
was a person who made you interested in yourself, and left you inspired
by the possibilities. I wasn't
his closest friend, nor his greatest friend, but I was a friend inside
the magnetic circle of his personality. He
was, for me, the dream, the great extension, the strings of life, the
grand search. If I represented the roots at Topanga Beach, our golden stretch of
youth, he was the rover, the roaming gypsy, always leaving and always
returning. Always writing and
always reminding me the call that was out there, the life that squirmed
in it's delicious mysteriousness.
pipes filled with Moroccan oranges"; trilobites and land with
bananas trees on the beach, for sale! at Byron Bay, Australia;
house filled with illegal green plants, Kailua-Kona; 6 to 8 foot
waves, offshore winds, 4 people out…Come visit us Juanito, come visit.
And when I finally, agonizingly, uprooted my Topanga Beach
possibilities, and climbed
aboard a bird to fly I sent back same, from Brasil, New Zealand, Tahiti,
the Republic of Tonga.
He inspired all
of us, his friends and companions, tantalizing us with the hopes and
possibilities of the search, proving that he was ahead of the great rush
of time, reminding that we should be too.
But he was successful in ways one could only dream, finding the
best places, the right times, good friends, the nicest wives and
lovers… so much that when I tried I could only idealize the search:
the perfect Topanga Beach, offshore winds, warm laughing days, friends
gathering at the point watching the sun go down.
He was the one
who wrote "we've been thinking about you Juanito, come visit.
Sadly I never did. Sadly
I never quite made it.
Once you are out
there you want to, you need to…keep going.
I was always looking
for that magical place, the same neighborhood of friends, the surfing
point break, the row of old houses on a small road next to the sea, a
warm loving ocean rumpled by endless waves.
This was the Topanga Beach dream, and as I searched for it I
realized the hardest part to create would be the people.
Especially this one person. He
was our center, our image. Like
myself, he was not a perfect person, but he was a flame, and like moths
to a candle we cherished the flame. And
like all flames it finally flickered and was gone.
We are left with many small flames, eternal memories of a special
time and a special person.
This is farewell my traveling friend. I'm grateful to have been included in your company. You have settled down, but the dream never settles down.
© John Clemens, 2002 - All Rights Reserved