you left us this spring, old friend. i wish i could have seen you one last time and said goodbye to you but i respected your wishes. i am grateful for that last hug in passing at 'sweetwater' in early january. my heart told me then that you were not well. it would be our last, few moments together. twenty-two years of friendship is a long time. we weren't always close or shared our innermost secrets but you were a part of my growing up in nyc. a piece of this city i loved and which now defines me in many ways. somehow, your presence, however abstract or concrete, made me feel more secure like having a family does. i always saw you as a man of fascinating contradictions: intensely social, yet never really able or willing to reveal your private, inner self. you had perfected this outward 'character' like a veteran actor, moving swiftly from person to person like a bee visits flowers, lingering for a bit of conversation, a wink and a smile, a sip of wine, exchanging energy.....then it would be time to move again. people were drawn to you; captivated by your effortless charm: they just wanted to be around you. that is the definition of charisma and you had plenty of it. memories of those early days on west broadway and grand street are so vivid. we affectionately named that corner block 'the bermuda triangle' because it was so easy to disappear into drunken oblivion in the establishments we either worked in or were friendly with, night after night, within a few yards and for virtually no money at all. women swooned over you but you never bragged. money was tight but you never worried. then, as the 90's closed out, north 6th between berry and wythe became your new home in brooklyn. williamsburg was frontier territory then and beautifully empty except for a few polish watering holes on bedford avenue, ‘tops’ supermarket and 'sweetwater' tavern, which was a rock'roll dive bar then. we'd buy beer at the dominican bodega on the corner for the barbeques that would routinely happen on your roof on weekends. skirt steak, chor y pan: argentinian style. you painted a lot then. i had fallen deeply in love with one of your larger pieces called, 'the boxer'. "i'll buy it from you one day", i kept telling you. one warm, summer evening after a long outing, it was time to call it a night. as i was leaving, you ran after me and stopped me at the bottom of the staircase. "this is for you", you said (with that inimitable smile of yours) and handed me the rolled -up canvas. some years passed and you found a true match in love. together, nina and you took over 'sweetwater' and created a home base where people could hang out with you over a good meal and a few drinks. it was a beautiful time of new beginnings. yet there were those occasional moments when you became doubtful and seemed to question your good fortune. it almost felt like you wanted to break free of everything; to be responsible for nothing and noone: not even yourself. the swaths you cut and the circles you drew were wide. my stories of you are just small side notes in the large, colorful collection that was your life. none are truth, just fading memory. yet, they may speak to how you were to me: gregarious, full of humor, quick to laugh, sweet, creative and funny but you could also be bitter and ungrateful at times, overly dramatic and a real pain in the ass. one thing you never were, though, was boring. you simply were a human being with all the paradoxical trimmings and acoutrements that life bestows on us. i never wanted you to be different. i just wanted you to be happy. i often ask myself if i took our friendship too much for granted and i think of the things i could have said and done but that's just human nature at work: we miss and appreciate most what is taken away from us rather than living mindfully inside each moment. you no longer being here in physical form is my reminder. sometimes, when i think of you now, i wonder if i ever really knew you at all, pablito..but i guess i knew you well enough to love you. todo. nada.
in loving memory of pablo arganaraz: 1954-2013