Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A couple notes about a friend who died yesterday...

A couple things about a friend of mine who died yesterday:

- We went to school together up through high school. He was one of the coolest kids I've ever known. He got in trouble in ways that I wouldn't. I've always been timid and I admired his fearlessness. I was never cool but he was and those things stay with you.

- Looking at a picture of our 8th grade class is a startling reminder that we really were just kids. At the time it didn't feel that way. We all tried on adult ideas, adult language, and adult behaviors and from our vantage point it was appropriate. Our faces tell a different story. In my head, the 8th grade versions of ourselves aren't radically different than the version we currently occupy.

- Like I said, he was really cool and I tried to copy him in the ways that I could actually muster. In the 7th grade, he liked Metallica and that meant I had to as well. That was fall/winter of 1993 and anyone who knew me in the years since then knows the obnoxious degrees I took that love for that band to (he once let me know that my obsessive talking and thinking about, drawing logos and band members of, and relating everything to Metallica ruined it for him).

That little influence made the rest of my life, had he not communicated his love for the band (and other metal bands), really unthinkable because so many later friendships and countless interactions with people came from that. I got into playing guitar because of that and that created whole worlds for me. That's not an understatement either. Even the way I found myself obsessing on music after that transferred into how I obsessively picked up learning about religion and in biblical studies. I see that trajectory very clearly. He later got really into hip hop when we were in high school but, gratefully, the damage was done. 

- Our birthdays were exactly 2 days apart and I think we later found out that we were born in the same hospital. In 7th and 8th grade we got each other birthday presents. I forgot what I got him but he gave me a copy of Nirvana Unplugged that I still listen to today. 

It's weird to think that tomorrow I'll have been the same age when he died (2 days ago) and that the day after that I'll be older than him because it always seemed appropriate that he was older than me. 

- Middle school was so weird for me for a million reasons but he was one of a handful of people from that time that helped me find myself. It's weird how little things from then can resonate. I hung out with an old friend from that time recently who single handedly got me into film by making me see a bunch of higher profile movies. Having worked with middle school kids for a very long time now (including in the same school we all went to) reminds me how much that time in your life really matters and not to dismiss what a middle school kid can offer the world. 

- He once dared me to tell the DJ of our fall 8th grade dance that he sucked and I did. I got in SO much trouble for that. 

- I'm very sad for not only his absolutely tragic loss (and for the children and loved ones who are left behind), but for how we lose touch with the people who mattered most in our lives. Life
Is short and it's worth at least a seasonal text, phone call, or online message. 

Thanks Keith. Love and prayers. 

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