Of course I remembered him. When I knew him he was lanky, and always had his boxers hanging out of his shorts. His dreads were just long enough that from far away his hair would look spiky. He would come out of the ether on his skateboard, and hang out with my friends and I at the bandstands, a spot I would frequent in a seaside town when I was a teenager. He was was a hugger, and happy to share a joint. His stories never came with a punchline, but he always laughed at the end of them.
We all saw him through his mother’s eyes. He was simple and kind. He was effortless, wise, and fun to be around.
When I learned of his death a few days ago, my friend Jamie texted me, asking me if I remembered the three or so summers I knew him best. Of course I did, Like at 17, I could forget a handsome guy that that scored me weed and would put his arms around me just so. He became dependent on pain killers after a back injury, and from there he graduated on to heroin. He was hardly 28 when he died.
With my phone in my hands and a million little tears lodged in the back of my throat, I sat in silence for the man, who as a boy was my friend. I thought of all those humid nights spent talking on car hoods with all kinds of punk rock music breaking out of the radio. I reminisced about passing round vodka poured into a Poland Spring bottle, and turning it down because the last thing I needed as my dad to smell alcohol on my breath, especially if I was going to be late. My friends would give me shit about it, Kyle’s voice would get momentarily course while saying, “Let the lady do her thing!”
When he died, he was likely doing everything he could to stop the pain. In that he succeeded, but the hurt’s got to go somewhere, and so it went to us.
Everyone I know is too aware of their own mortality. They are either trying to die or fighting to live. They do not want their most recent bedfellow to be the last man they’ve fucked. They try to live every day like it’s their last, or live it hoping it will be. They spread their arms wide and walk into traffic, or will have conversations with themselves about how transient they are, to a point where they’re afraid to make any concrete choices. They’re too focused on where they might be going, that they forget that they’re still here. They are suffocated in the moment, by the moment, and too anxious for the future.
We leave, and we’re always leaving until we’re finally gone.
So I ask, can you at least stay, just long enough so that I really know what it’s like to know you. That way, even if all you end up being to most people you know is a memory of salty air and carousel lights, it’s still sweet, and it stays golden until those of us are gone. That should be enough. That should be the kind of transient one would aspire to be.