Two days ago I got a phone call from my former Venetian neighbor, Greta, telling me the terrible news. Donald, who was truly the heart and soul of our Venice California enclave known as 28 Sunset was gone.
I only found out this morning what had happened.
He was hit by a bus.
Even though I haven’t seen him since I was 5 months pregnant with Alex, I can’t stop the tears from falling. Donald was my age. He was my neighbor for 7 or so years. So many of my memories of Venice include him. Just the other day, as I was exfoliating my face with a J-A-S-O-N product, I was thinking about him because he gave it to me.
Donald was an intense person. A fighter. I can’t help but think that if we had more people like Donald in our world taking care of just a small piece of it, it’d be a better place.
Donald was the first person to tell me about 9-11. I remember going to work that Tuesday morning and out comes Donald, arms waving wildly and excitedly, “We’ve been bombed!”. The only time I saw the footage of the Twin Towers was that morning on his TV.
One time our apartment was being stalked by a guy who was stealing our bikes and harassing/stalking our fellow neighbor, Lisa. Donald and I followed the guy twice trying to catch up with him and tell him to get lost or at least get his license plate number.
We had a stray cat in our building who had obviously been dumped by someone. Donald took her in, named her Mickey and took care of her until she passed. He kept her ashes in an urn because he missed her so much.
For the longest time I heard yelling and thought it was a woman screaming until I realized that it was actually George, Donald’s parrot, calling out his name. George was a fixture in our apartment complex.
If it weren’t for Donald catching the person who was renting our crazy-shut-in manager’s parking space in the act, we would probably still have the crazy manager to contend with.
Donald and my neighbor Lisa came over for a vegetarian Christmas dinner I had fixed one year. He brought a lovely red wine and we had a great time.
I’d always get free samples of great organic cosmetics from Donald. He was always so nice about passing cool things along to others.
For the longest time we had a tattered white swinging couch-thing in our courtyard that Donald had brought in. It was always so much fun to sit on it and hang out. When the couch had finally seen its last legs, he rescued a really cool table from down the street and set it up with a few chairs and potted plants. The first few pictures of things from my blog were taken using that table as a backdrop. He was always concerned about creating a nice shared communal space in our courtyard.
He was always excited to see doves and hummingbirds nesting in our courtyard trees and would do anything he could to protect them from the gardeners and stray cats.
When Donald got his new car he was super duper retentive about getting scratches. I remember coming home one day with a note on my door saying I owed him money for a scratch. I took him outside, opened my door and showed him that there was no way my door could’ve made that ding and everything was cool. When I got my new car, he showed me how to use a paint marker to cover up dings.
I loved looking at his paintings and wished he could’ve been discovered by a rich and famous art collector. He was one of the most talented people I know.
Donald always championed things around our building. He discovered that a pipe had burst and saved our complex from being flooded and overcome with mildew. He always watched over our parking spots and made certain our apartment building was a safe place to be.
To me Donald symbolized Venice in all its artistic bohemian intensity.
Rest in peace, Donald. You’ll be missed by many.