On Friday, Aug. 7, 2015 Travis Fristoe took his
life. Travis was a fellow traveler, on a path with few footsteps. He was a
zinester and writer of the highest caliber (check out America?
and the book Radon
a longtime volunteer at the Civic
in Gainesville responsible for helping shape its zine collection,
a librarian, and a musician (Moonraker, Reactionary 3, die
, True Feedback). To me, Travis’s greatest accomplishment was that
he was Travis—a rad, thoughtful person engaged in his communities. He put his
time in, not for recognition, but because he gave a shit.
I always enjoyed catching up with Travis, in
person and online. (One of my favorite memories is talking to him about books
and how I thought the punch line to Infinite
Jest was on the last page because if you made it that far, the joke’s on
you. Fuck twelve-hundred page books about tennis. He vehemently disagreed. It
was funny.) But I always respected Travis. He was a busy guy who I gave an open
invitation to write for Razorcake. (In 2013, he interviewed The Careeners. Here’s a PDF of that interview.)
A month before he committed suicide, we went over several revisions on his memorial
to Lance Hahn, a bittersweet paean that takes meaningful time with J.
Church’s last record The Horror of Life.
Travis was a compassionate craftsman. A record helped guide him through the
life transition and heavy emotional weight of becoming a responsible father and
grandson. Not only did Travis put words together artfully, he did it with
heart. With light. With hope. With kindness. And those things make Travis’s
passing hurt even more. He was one of the few holding a torch against often
almost unbearable darkness.
Travis suffered from severe alcoholism, a terrible disease that ramped up
quickly and consumed him. He did a good job of hiding it from a lot of people
who didn’t see him that often.
When I first heard the news that he killed himself, I was angry with him. Angry
that he left behind his daughter Astrid—born in February—and his stepdaughter
Suki. Angry that he left behind Avery, his lifelong soulmate and new wife.
Angry that he had to know his body would be found by someone whom he loved and
loved him. What a terrible last act. My anger was based in fear. My anger was partially
based on the fact that Travis was the second friend in almost as many months to
take his life. He joins Chris
I did not know the depth of either’s pain and suffering.
I hope this doesn’t sound selfish. My fear is this: Travis and Chris are versions
of us living parallel, examined lives.
They are people who I could have become if I was born in a slightly different
place or time. They are people who I connected deeply with when there are so few
people who I connect with at all. They are people who I saw in myself on my
best days. They are people who I strove to be in some small measure. And then
they killed themselves. What the fuck do I do with that?
I regarded the two fresh graves in my heart and the dark hand I’ve been dealt
this year beyond these deaths. I am severely rattled. Many people checked in on
me, to see if I was okay. I accepted my family and friends’ kindness and
support. It’s humbling. It doesn’t come easily for me. They made me know I was
loved. They provided light and ballast, showed that I was far from being alone.
My anger at the dead dissolved into compassion for the living, to all who love
Travis and miss him with a deep ache.
Rest in peace, Travis.