In Memoriam: Christopher Jason Siddons





I found out last night that Chris had lost his battle with AIDS on Sunday. He was only 32. Chris and I met in 1992 at auditions for a play I was directing for Script, the now defunct theater company in Jonesboro, GA. We had instant chemistry and briefly dated, but discovered we were better as friends. We shared some lovely moments, including crying our eyes out over Fried Green Tomatoes and going down to visit the Whistle Stop Cafe. He had an amazing voice, was a talented artist and dancer and I distinctly remember him playing Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" on his keyboard when we lived together. We went on road trips, wrote poetry together and had many, many laughs. I will never forget him singing along to Annie Lennox or the soundtracks from Miss Saigon or Phantom of the Opera, or holding my hand as we sat in the old Garden Hills Cinema watching Howard's End thrilled by Emma Thompson and all that English rain we had never seen. He especially loved The Rocky Horror Picture Show and I can't remember how many times we saw it together.

We had a big fight after we finished starring together in an exhausting -- both physically and mentally -- psychological drama set in a mental institution called Outcasts Always Mourn by local playwright Grant Jerkins. Doing those rehearsals every night, coming home and living with those characters, holding down jobs, being so young. I'm surprised we didn't kill each other. Chris moved out and we lost contact for a time. The apartment felt empty without him.

Four or five years went by, until he called one day and said he was starring in a play in Atlanta and wanted me to come. He was happy and well and I was thrilled to see him again. We stayed in touch and saw each other out at clubs on occasion. I remember watching him teaching line-dancing at a club here in Atlanta called Hoedown's one Thursday night. He really knew how to dance in all styles and was clearly enjoying himself. That was the last time I saw him. We lost touch again.

The first poem I ever had published (in Welter in 1993) was inspired by him. I'm not even sure he knew that, and I will regret never thanking him. Several poems in Better To Travel were inspired by Chris and I have a notebook full of awkward poems written during our time together that may never see the light of day. But those words were a turning point in my writing and voice. Chris made that possible.

Firewater

Back door, old house,
snow melting faster
than paper burns.
And some child is
running in the woods.
He is at my side now.
Kissing my face,
holding my hands.
Bitterly cold, he
half naked.
I lead him to the
couch, lay him
down, smother him
with my body.
Kisses, apologies,
promises…forgotten.
Ghost.
He melts through my
veins like firewater.
And passes through my
soul as winter does.

Thank you, Chris, for helping me find my voice. I hope you are at peace. You will not be forgotten.

Comments

Robin said…
Collin, I'm very sorry for your loss. I've been to more funerals than weddings in my life. May the cure come soon. May we never forget all the good souls we've lost.

Robin
Dustin said…
CK,

I'm sorry. If I can do anything, you know I'm only a phone call away!

-Dustin
Reb said…
Oh so young. I'm sorry. Be well Collin.

Reb
Tania Rochelle said…
I'm sorry, Collin. I know how hard it is to lose the touchstones in your life.
Grant Jerkins said…
That picture (and I mean your words as much as the jpeg) brought it all back. Like the smell of incense brings me right back to little five points. Like the taste of a triple screwdriver (remember that?) And remember that Chris drew the art for the playbill too. It just breaks my fucking heart. And I don't honestly know why. Maybe because I'm a father now, and I know that he was way too young to die for no good reason at all.
DeadMule said…
Collin, I, too, amd sorry for your loss. May he live forever in your mind and in your poems. Love, Helen
i'm sorry baby. xo.
Anonymous said…
Sorry to hear about this. Call if you need to talk or anything.

GAV
minus five said…
i'm sorry, as well.
Lisa Allender said…
Collin, what a lovely homage to your friend, Chris.
My God, we've lost so many beautiful souls to this dread disease...
If you need anything--ANYthing, please let me know.
Peace, friend.
KATE EVANS said…
Thank you for sharing Christopher with me and with everyone who reads your poetry and blog.

xoxo K
I am sorry for your loss, Collin. Be well.
Levari said…
My deepest condolences...


Nothing real ever dies.
Vance said…
I am sorry to find out that one of my great friends from school has passed. I remember Chris and will miss him. While we were so fundamentally different in our beliefs and lives, we were also very close friends.

Collin, I remember working with both of you in Script. We did some short play I think was called Moving Day or something like that. Thank you for memorializing such a wonderful person.

Vance
Collin said…
Hey, Vance. Glad you found your way here. Of course I remember you well and the play we did with Script. We had a lot of laughs. Hard to believe 16 have passed. Chris was a sweet soul. Be well, Vance.
jeremy said…
Not sure if this comment will even reach you since it has been so many years. I just found out about Chris about an hour ago. I've been scouring the net trying to find out what happened (I wanted to be wrong) when I found your blog.

Chris and I were the best of friends in high school. We rode to school together every day my junior and senior years. I graduated in 91 and that summer, our paths just went in different directions. No, not "just". I was just starting to deal with the fact that I was gay and what that would mean to me and those around me when he was well on his way. It bothered me and I'm ashamed to say that I know that is what drove us apart.

I missed out on so much by being afraid while he was so brave and was really just being himself.

You wrote a beautiful piece here about Chris.

Take care,
Jeremy Hart
Collin Kelley said…
Although it's been five years since he passed and more than 20 since I first met Chris, I choose to remember him when we first met: bounding through the door of the theatre so young, vibrant and alive. He was talented beyond his years.

I'm glad you found yourself, Jeremy, and your way to my blog. I know Chris would be, too.

Popular Posts