The Wheel

Barry Dredze
3 min readJan 14, 2023
Illustration by Albrecht Durer, for Ship of Fools by Sebastian Brant (1494)

It is Friday the Thirteenth in January of 2023, and we are in that holiday hangover time of year. That weird uncertain place between the Solstice and another new moon, trying to get our shit together for another spin on the Wheel of the Year.

There are, and always will be, remarkably fewer familiar faces to look forward to seeing. Friendships, relations and collaborations irreparably shattered and leaving mostly memories and, hopefully, some tokens of their immortality. Whether through thought or deed or nature’s cruelty, we will always need some new collaborators in laughs and love and that peace of mind, so hard to nail down and even harder to start over.

We lost an old college newspaper friend of mine, last Spring. It was staggering news, followed by a memorial that his siblings organized at a golf club in the small river town where he and his career ended up, but they never expected the turnout. His is a big Irish family that scattered over time across the country, allowing themselves to loosen contacts with each other. He was a quiet kid, so they expected him not to have left behind such a huge collection of broken hearts represented by the standing-room-only crowd of mourners stuffed into the bar area of the club. The program that the family had planned and printed for the guests collapsed into a simple ritual of taking turns passing the mic and telling the stories.

As the year warmed up into summer, we lost a former chair of our local township Democratic Party organization. She gave me the opportunity to put out a printed quarterly newsletter, and we grew into a dynamic publishing team that earned a decent amount of funds with a circulation that easily cracked a thousand households, in and beyond the township. Not bad for a shoestring operation. She had been struggling with a long series of interrelated illnesses, and her passing was followed in only a couple few months by her husband’s.

On the approach of Thanksgiving, a sweet, smart, funny roller derby photographer fell to a brief and horrible struggle with cancer. The man was an artist and a delightful snarkmaster with an encyclopedic memory for the sport, as well for anything else he plugged his interest into.

Christmastime, a guy who started as a friend of friends some twenty-odd years ago to become a pure delight to hang out with, talking…

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Barry Dredze

Just another mortal, tweaking my cognitive map on the fly.