John Morgan and I spent an independent study together my freshman year, building benches and chairs to place around campus. I didn't know what to make of this man that I had already deemed "old". What was he? 50 something? Now not so much, but at nineteen, he already seemed old. Seasoned is the better word for it. There was a guy I had liked during the Fall semester, Alex. I thought he'd liked me too, but he passed me over for someone else. Alex ended up in the same independent study class, but with a new interest in me. He was the one that pulled me in on the bench building part of the project. John, Alex, and me. We'd hang out in the back of the little purple theater. I would get frustrated because Alex never let me do anything but hold nails. Also, I was tired of his new interest in me. I didn't really want it any more. John played interference between us. He let me do more than hold nails. He gave me a hammer. He taught me how to use a drill. For every nail or screw that went in wonky, John would say "It's OK, It's rustic." "It's rustic" would become the project motto and end up on our t-shirts. Some of you know that I used to sing. My voice helped pay for undergrad and all I had to do was enroll in choir or some sort of music class every semester. Easy money for someone who lacked the self esteem and ambition to be more than a background voice. Those early college years (to be honest more than those early college years) were a constant battle for me and my body. I was not comfortable in my own skin and wore clothes that reflected this. I signed up for a musical theater scenes class because I loved musicals and thought it would be fun. I knew I'd be stuck over to one side, tucked in a choir and that all the main parts would go to the music majors. Instead I ended up being cast as the stripper who did it with finesse from Gypsy. The song was You Gotta Get A Gimmick. I had to sing while attempting to make ballet look sexy in a humorous way. This was not an easy role for someone not comfortable in their own skin. Even the idea of showing a bare elbow was too scandalous for me, but during our first performance, I twirled and bumped my hips, doing my best to "do it with finesse". John was in the audience during our first performance. For the rest of my time at USAO, I'd be walking down a hallway and from somewhere behind me I'd hear his low creeper voice. "Take it off. Take it all off."
John Morgan taught me how to use a drill and build a bench. He told the most vulgar stories I've ever heard in my entire life. He was at times the most ridiculous person and from the stories he shared, I can only imagine the crazy amazing life he had. He taught me that you are never too old. For anything. To go back to school. To laugh. To be silly. To love. Every day is the adventure. Here's to John's next adventure. You'll be missed down here, but between you and Chris, I'm sure you'll keep the afterlife in stitches.