For me, High School was not this gaseous pit of endless misery. I liked it. By-and-large, I don’t think I would tolerate teaching in a high school if I didn’t appreciate most of my four years of deep teenagerism.

But there was that time. It was the first time that I ever really could ask myself, “Am I depressed? Is this what depression feels like?”

And for no reason at all, Peter Spear was there for me. 

I was a sophomore in the height of my silliness. Peter was a senior, super cool, musical. I can picture the way his fingers pluck mildly, deliberately, smoothly at his upright bass that was taller than me. Even his fingers had soul.

I don’t know what Peter Spear saw in me as a person. I wasn’t funny or clever. I was my worst self.

Peter took me in anyway.

One day, Peter told me he wanted to show me a song. He led me down to his bedroom and I remember feeling instantly nervous. I’d been warned about upperclassmen boys and I’d been warned about their bedrooms. I’d been warned about basements with boys.

But Peter was genuine. He genuinely wanted to play me a song. He popped in a CD, and lit some incense (this is not a euphemism for marijuana), and he laid down on his nasty couch repurposed as a bed that he’d literally found. He wanted to listen to the song all the way through without talking. He called this a “Chill Session.” And for an hour or two every day, we’d go listen to music and obliterate our cares and annihilate our heartbreaks. It was better than yoga. It was better than a lot of things.

We’d spend a lot of time in his basement bedroom with a nasty couch instead of a bed.  This probably would have HORRIFIED my parents if they knew, but nothing happened but healing.

I promise Peter fixed me.

Peter Spear was the only person in the world who had shorter fingernails than me. I keep thinking about them.

I don’t know how else to process what happened to Peter Spear. But I like to think that he’s still here, still the same boy, helping everyone else with their sad feelings.

And then he doesn’t really feel so gone.


Peter played my big brother, George Gibbs, in Our Town. Here we are, looking at the moon.


  1. Jul 16, 2014

    Best basement bedroom in the world. Couch included.

  2. Jul 16, 2014

    So beautiful, Sierra. I'm sorry for your loss. Losing people is so complicated sometimes. But I think you captured the celebration of his character, your grief at his loss, and your gratitude for his kind heart all at once. I hope you can find some time and space to grieve, and eventually find peace about it. Love you!

  3. Jul 16, 2014
    Running For My Life

    Lovely, Sierra. I'm so sorry for the loss of someone who healed you and understood you. I'm so happy, though, that he was there for you so many years ago.

  4. Jul 16, 2014
    Kirtley Freckleton

    Thanks for taking the time to write that up Sierra! Super touching, and very sincere. I'm sorry for your loss. Miss you guys!

  5. Jul 17, 2014

    Peter was so many things to each of us. He somehow connected in a personal way with a lot of people. Miss that guy.