The Cheerleader

Marin’s superpower was making you feel like you mattered, and that what you did was great, and fun, and necessary. What some others saw as banal, she thought was fantastic. She was, in short, one of the world’s greatest cheerleaders — and that’s how I will remember her for as long as I live.

I have been desperately sad since I heard about Marin’s death.

Marin and I first met, –me a 17-year old snow-weathered senior, she fresh off the Oslo bus–  in our hippy, crunchy granola Scandinavian high school, where we solved all our problems by hugging. We met the world with a sort of wide-eyed sincerity that I haven’t really seen since outside of One Tree Hill reruns, and it’s hard to picture a more fitting image to illustrate our Nordic-flavoured life since then than her — the hair-down, fringe-swept, bright-red lipsticked, quiety wonderful Icelandic girl. A little salty, a lot kind, with a large order of side-eye.

It was coming up to 18 years of friendship – an adult friendship that can vote and drink and drive, only one of which we ever did together if you don’t count that one Model United Nations disaster – and from all those years here’s what I know, and what I think everyone who knew her knows:

Marin had the gift of unfiltered fandom.

When my first academic book chapter was published, she actually went and read it, and apparently loved it – and I don’t think I need to tell you, it takes a special kind of mad commitment to sit through your friends’ academic work. I spent a few weeks in Southern Africa, where she was born, and I swear she was more enthusiastic about my trip than even I was – asked for photos, impressions, recommendations, showed my pictures around. And every spring like clockwork we would engage in our favourite common kind of madness: the Eurovision Song Contest. Traded favourites, brokered hopeless televote deals like a 1960’s Democratic convention, hung our heads in shame together and had a big laugh.

You know, that’s rare. Ideally it wouldn’t be and we would all be more like Marin, but we’re not. We all know a few people who think nothing of cutting us down to size and putting us in our place with snark and passive-aggression, and some days it seems like everyone is a cynic, and then along would come Marin to like your selfie and tell you you look amazing. Loving things, and places, and people – loving us – without filter or qualification or irony.

Marin’s superpower was making you feel like you mattered, and that what you did was great, and fun, and necessary. What some others saw as banal, she thought was fantastic. She was, in short, one of the world’s greatest cheerleaders — and that’s how I will remember her for as long as I live.

I don’t know how to fix anything but here is her blog post. And it’s here to stay.

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