I want to tell you about the time that I met Wim Faros.
In the early years of my adulthood I dove pretty deeply into post-hardcore music. I know, I know, not exactly a genre known for fertilizing creative talent. But I won’t feign an apology. I know I have bad taste, and I am not sorry. But I digress.
In 2006 I came across the debut album from Escape the Fate; it captivated me after only a single listen. Every track buzzed with a brash, unrelenting energy that filled me up, driving me in ways few other works from the genre ever had. I took to social media–when the empire of Myspace towered at its zenith–and left a message for the band. Did we say “posted on their wall” back then? Or did that phrase not enter our lexicon until after everyone started using Facebook? Regardless, I “posted on their wall,” or whatever, an they responded. A member of the band visited my Myspace page and left me a message. They wrote on my wall.
I thought then that I had crossed paths with greatness. When I met Wim Faros, I learned how wrong I had been.
You know those moments when you unexpectedly run into someone from long ago, someone whom you haven’t spoken to or interacted with or even seen in years? Maybe decades? You know how those moments hurt, with ubiquitous certainty, the seconds passing like the turning of a Catherine wheel, a new bone breaking with every awful gesture? Like when you’re visiting home in between your freshman and sophomore years at college, and your mom takes you to the grocery store to pick up some snacks to keep you sated while you’re in town, and as you walk toward the row of checkout counters she surprises you, telling you that the girl you had a crush on in middle school now works at that very supermarket, and you beg your mom to go through any other checkout line, any other line, because you haven’t prepared yourself for this and it’s just too awkward and you have no idea how to act or what to say, but she ignores you and goes through the line where Alicia stands like one of those posters for missing kids where their appearance is digitally modified to reflect their current age, and you just stare at her without speaking, never uttering a single word, even as your mother introduces you?
My meeting with Wim Faros felt nothing like that.
Five years ago I stood waiting for a bus on a warm October morning. A man came up the sidewalk, a guitar case in hand, and sat down beside the bus terminal. I don’t know why he chose that spot–we had no company–but without any hesitation he opened the guitar case, pulled out his instrument, tuned it, and began to play. He started with a rendition of Ave Maria, before transitioning to Bohemian Rhapsody, which became Love The Way You Lie (they’re all written in the same key, did you know that?!). He played … well. He played very well. I found myself moved. I lost track of myself as I listened. The bus did not come, not on time, but I felt no frustration. I enjoyed the music, and that was enough.
I pulled some money from my wallet and knelt to place it in the open guitar case. When I stood, a voice called out from behind me.
“He’s pretty great, huh?”
I can’t tell you the exact moment when I knew that I was meeting Wim Faros. I think it happened sometime between when I heard him speak, and when I saw the little lanyard attached to his belt. I remember turning, remember my eyes pulling his body before me. He stood shorter than me, which I found surprising. He wore a denim jacket over a white dress shirt. His pastel pink tie matched his pink Chuck Taylors. He smiled like actual magic, like a jelly bracelet given to you by your high school sweetheart, like a picture of your old dog sitting on your dashboard as you drive through a long night. His eyes shimmered.
Like I said, I’m not sure exactly when I realized that Wim Faros stood before me. But I knew that it was him, and I realized: I had always known him. Wim Faros. I had forgotten, somehow, the way that we forget all our old treasures, but I had always known him.
“He’s pretty great, huh?” he had asked, but I saw in his eyes that he meant the question rhetorically. I saw in his eyes … I don’t know how to describe it. What is greatness, anyway? What does it mean to be extraordinary? You asked the question yourself, Deidre, during your show. And I think … I think that Wim Faros gave me the answer. I think that his eyes gave me the answer.
Someone might have warned you, at some point in your life, that if everyone were great, then no one would be great. They might’ve touted the ideology that greatness requires mediocrity, that shadows cannot be seen without light, that contrast and comparison drive all value.
Wim Faros’s eyes told me otherwise.
Wim Faros’s eyes–the eyes that answered his own rhetorical question–told me that the musician on the ground was great. He told me that any musician was great. That every musician was great. That everyone was great.
This sidewalk musician had talent, certainly, but that wasn’t the point. He didn’t owe his greatness to anything so trite as that. Because anyone can practice, you know? Anyone can “get good.” But you no what no one else can do? Do you know what no other person could ever possibly accomplish?
No one else could be him. No one else in the history of the human race, alive or dead, could ever be him.
So how could he be anything except extraordinary? How could he be mediocre, or commonplace, or unremarkable, when no one else in the entire world was sitting on that sidewalk, at that moment, playing those songs on that guitar.
He was great because he was there.
We are all great because we are all here.
That is what Wim Faros taught me.
With all our own individual treasures–no matter if they’ve been dulled by neglect, or locked carefully away from the beautiful cruelty of the world–aren’t we all impossible to duplicate? Aren’t we all extraordinary?
“Yes,” I responded.
Panic set in as I thought that Wim would remain, a manifest yesteryear phantasm, waiting for the bus with me, challenging me past the brink of exhaustion with his transcendent eyes. But then he walked on. He pulled his wallet from a pocket in his jeans and placed a few bills in the opened guitar case. He turned a corner and disappeared.
I stood transfixed. I might have missed my bus.
That was how I met Wim Faros.
Thank you, Deidre, for reading. Thank you for your show. Thank you for your passion. Thank you for reading.
A post about an injury you sustained that was totally worth the pain and discomfort because of the surrounding circumstances.
A few years ago, I ran my car off the road on a snowy mountain pass. My legs were shattered. I was rescued by a lonely ex-nurse who was apparently a huge fan of my blog. My “Number one fan,” as she described herself. Over the course of my time with her, during which I found out she was actually quite dangerous and delusional, I learned a lot about how fandom works, and in fact sort of rediscovered my love for writing as she tortured me and forced me to write an original story about Wim, my fictional son.
We had this inside joke where he was supposed to make monthly subscriptions to me. He gave this note to me 5 months into dating about 5 years ago with money taped on to ‘renew his subscription’
I havent removed it since that day and never will even if i’m homeless and 45 cents short of my next meal.
Why cant i remember feeling this ridiculously in love with you.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I ripped the tongue from his throat and left him gasping for breath, I told you that you’ll reap what you sow but you wanted fame so fuck your ego.