When we were first getting started in Tacoma, we met a guy who we thought was just a new fan who really liked our song, “Fallin”. So much so that when we exchanged phone numbers for a possible lunch hangout at his favorite 6th Avenue eatery, Joy Teriyaki, I put him in my phone as “Rich “Fallin” Monks, and that is how he has stayed over the past ten years, and will continue to stay. But that is where the unfamiliarity ends. Rich started showing up at more and more gigs and we eventually did have that hang out at Joy T. As an avid supporter of all the musicians in the Tacoma scene, we often ran into Richard at other artists’ shows and various open mics around town. We learned that, even though playing “out” may not have been his favorite thing to do, he is quite a skilled guitar player and was always eager to talk nerdy guitar stuff with Jared. For awhile I thought that Rich would be Jared’s friend and that was that. A cool guy who talked shop with Jared and supported musicians. That is until I discovered his wonderfully twisted sense of humor, and that’s when, despite complete differences in beliefs, lifestyle, politics, and damn near most everything, Rich and I started to bond in a familial way that we both needed.
Much like a real brother, Richard began to step into our lives to help with house projects, dog-sitting, little things here and there. He lived about forty-five minutes outside of Tacoma, but since his favorite movie theater was in Tacoma and he is an AVID movie-goer, he would ask to crash on our couch after late showings of the new releases. Finally I just began having him over for actual family events, birthday parties, holidays, celebrations of any kind, and his “couch crashes” would turn into morning breakfasts (he literally would bring home the bacon) and conversations til noon. He became an “Uncle” to Rudy, passing on his thoughts on being an only child and enduring HOURS of diatribe about video game ins-and-outs, just because he knew it was important to listen. During COVID, Rich and I hiked Mt Rainier and Mt St Helens, several cool spots in Point Defiance, and created an even deeper bond in hours of walking and talking in nature. We found a bridge on one of our hikes that we deemed the “Bridge of Distain” where we allowed ourselves the freedom to air any grievances without judgement or reserve. It was good. We cried a little, and we laughed a LOT. He has cared for and loved our home while we’re on the road, played with our dogs, cleaned up countless piles of poop and dog messes (bless dear old “broken insides” Bernice). He has reported dead birds, washed windows, and shredded his electric guitar in our living room…much to the delight of our neighbors (for real, they love him). He is a constant and stable friend and presence in our family and it is always ok when he’s around, whether we’re quiet, busy, or just down for a good time.
In fact, most of our relationship for the past ten years has been full of laughter. Rich is one of the wittiest and most disturbed people I know, appealing to my dry sense of humor and outrageously inappropriate sensibility. Most people would never pair us up as friends. Hell, WE barely paired up as friends, but we just kept at it, and now I have a “brother” for life. That’s the thing about family. You don’t get to choose it. It choses you. We are about as different as two people can be. Rich, an ex military, devoutly religious, right leaning, motorcycle riding, “emotionally dead inside”, bachelor. Me, a crazy, left wing, pagan-nudist-hippie who cries at everything, swears like a pirate on a bad day, has a bleeding heart for everyone, and is incredibly devoted to my husband and son.
Although it sounds as though I am penning his eulogy, Richard is actually just moving away. Will I see him again? You bet! But our “normal” won’t be the same without his couch crashes, ice cream binges, deep talks laden with judgement and dripping with sarcasm, and grand hugs that smell like motorcycle exhaust and fresh air. When we die, Rich and I may go our separate ways, but while we’re here on earth, no move will ever keep us far from each other. Thank you for visiting us in Keystone on your way to the rest of your life. I hate you for making me sad on my very rare “me time” on tour…how selfish of you. You know that wherever I am on this planet, there’s a couch, cot, hammock, trampoline, or piece of tin foil with your name on it to rest near us. My “brother”, my friend. Best of luck to you. Love you forever.
(Jared here: Yeah. What she said.)