I think circles are a little bit weird. The word circle I mean. Just think about it for a second, if I asked you to define a circle for me… I’d guess it’s harder than at first pass (or maybe I’m just writing this a little too late at night).

What is a circle of friends? An inner circle? A circle of trust. These all mean groups but why not a square or trapezoid of trust?

The circle was a symbol that we still use but it’s strength has been denatured for me. The ring for a wedding (or the one Ring) stands for eternity. A shield is a circle. So’s a dinner plate. At the round table it meant equality. It’s a familiar symbol, a powerful one, and I think one that is slightly taken for granted.

Why am I going on and on about rings?

Because in the last few years I’ve lost some cool people and I wanted a way to memorialize them. I got a tattoo for Ann, Louis, Chris and Gian. I got something that I wanted to remind me that even though they’re gone, for as long as I’m here, I’m carrying their stories. It might not be eternity but it’ll be as long as matters to me.

It’s a circle because these people were in my circle. They mattered, they were my equals, or my betters.

From Louis and Anne I learned what love is, family too, how to forgive, that you’re never too old for new passions or fashions, and how important small things can be in other people’s lives.

From Chris, I learned about story, expectations, overcoming things life throws at you. I gained stories and made friends. I learned a quiet and thoughtful soul. I lost a writing partner. I saw the strength of fatherhood, and someone who understood the unspoken rules of the world. I learned it’s true you can know how much to trust someone by how they feel about animals.

From Gian, I learned not to be ashamed of a ridiculous laugh, and to smile more. I learned that if you want anything in life then you have to chase it down, it’s not coming to you, and even then it may never come so you better get excited about the road there. I learned that limitless enthusiasm and unbridled friendship to everyone doesn’t have to come with strings or expectations and some people just generally see the best in everyone. I learned there’s no such thing as being too big as a person.

For those of you who aren’t here anymore I don’t want to forget your lessons. I wanted to make a promise that I’d go on telling your stories and continue the narrative you began as long as I can. I had that promise burned into my skin so I wouldn’t forget it.

You matter to me (and to all the other people whose lives you touched).

Thank you all for letting me carry a little piece of you for the rest of my life. I’ll try to treat it fondly