He reminded a lot of us of Snorlax. My kids thought it was really funny... and he went right along with the joke, and started to get into Snorlax...
He had sleep apnea, was a big guy, snored a lot. Funny thing about Snorlax though, if you know your Pokemon, is his defense is sleeping. He falls on opponents or yawns at them. He's grumpy. It's the dumbest pokemon ever, but... funny as hell.
He snored like a friggin' motor home trying to drive up the side of a mountain... sputtering, gagging, sawing and spewing. Noisy as hell. I remember Ben shared a room with him once at a conference and I forewarned Ben about the snoring. The next day I said to him "How'd ya sleep?" in a joking and knowing way, and just got the evil eye... the joking, knowing evil eye.
He also looked like Chef from South Park, especially when he work a red t-shirt. He would sing deep and low like Chef, and would lovingly refer to my children (not to their faces but to me) as "my little crackers."
There are so many funny, funny things about him that crack me up. So many funny memories that I've been wallowing in. Stuff I want to write about, stuff I don't ever want to forget.
Doug got all the belongings from his car.
We went through a lot of his stuff last night. Doug found his journal from rehab, a daily regimen the house residents were required to do. Six months of light, one-page entries with some humor and a few confessions sprinkled through, and it ends with him going off for his first interview at Brandeis with a tone in his writing that expressed he believed he wasn't going to get the job.
Based on his own self-doubt and self-loathing, and the mess he left behind at both the other academic institutions he worked for, perhaps he was right. It was difficult to read.
There was very little insight into what he wanted from his future... but lots of daily inventory of "today was a great day." I am mentioned only once, the day he came to get his guitar, and it is only in passing. He was happier that the weather was good than he was to spend a half hour with me. I was happier than I'd been in months to spend time with him, and floated on cloud 9 about it for days after it happened. He had other thoughts and priorities to keep straight in his day to day head.
He had lists of things in a small journal, apart from the home journal. There was a list of people he wanted to renew relationships with, I knew all of them. The two students from the college he worked with, Chad and Remi, and a girl named Sarah he knew from Philly who went to our college.
There was a full list of every song he could play on the guitar flawlessly from memory. The list made me burst into tears. So many of those songs I sang with him playing. He taped me singing "Crazy Love," so that I could sing harmony to it. I remember the look on his face the first time I sang along with the tape... his jaw dropped. I made him squeal when the song was over. It was flawless. I can see us, sitting in the bathroom in my apartment in Hamilton, MA in 1989 on a hot summer afternoon. Just like it was a week ago. Just like it was a million years ago. The bathroom was dark forest green with a large vanity counter top. The tape recorder sat across from me. He sat on the floor.
There are other items in his stuff, papers he was required to write as part of the rehab. They are interesting reading and shed more light on him where he was at that moment.
One paper listed out the things he was thankful for in the last five months. First on the list was me for getting him his first job in the field he loved -- computer repair. Further on the list was "the Geigers" for giving me the first apartment that I got to live in alone.
Perhaps that was the problem. He was alone for the first time, even though he never was really alone. There was no lock on the door between our apartment and his, and he was often over here. Perceived loneliness or abandonment... boredom. The sense that perhaps he was a pain in the ass when he came over to hang out. Sometimes he was... othertimes it was like college and was a blast to have him over to watch a movie. He spent a lot of time with Chad and Remi upstairs before they moved to the Carolinas, and then after they left, well, we lost him wholly.
Eventually he stopped coming over to see us, and his life with heroin began.
He never was a nuisance, he never was a pain in the ass. I think he was looking to spend more than just an hour or two after work with friends. He was looking for an all day friend, or something to help him forget he didn't have an all day friend. And he found the later. Whatever the case may be, I'm not going to sit here and analyze it any more.
The funeral is Friday. His sister wanted us to find his dress suit in the stuff we got. She'd bought it for him for his interview at Brandeis.
Along with the guitar, the suit is nowhere to be found, which perplexes her. She wonders what else of his stuff is among the missing and where he could have left it. I am hoping the guitar shows up, there are people who saw him in the past few days who may have some of his things. A friend of his said she was going to make some calls, see if he was anywhere with it with the people they both knew.
I am praying it turns up.
I got a great email from Chad. In part, he says this:
"There were countless afternoons that he would come upstairs after a crappy day of cleaning mouse cages at Charles River and we would play video games or Magic the Gathering. I couldn't tell you how many movies the 3 of us went to. I don't think I'll ever understand some of the decisions he made. Maybe he just got tired of being a third party and was lonely.
I remember how in one evening he learned how to play "Crash into Me" on the guitar.
I remember the night he set his apartment on fire because he put the rug over the heating duct.
I remember the countless hours put into the "Mighty Trike Homepage" and how he turned a couple of rookies into devious Magic playing fanatics.
I wish I had known him longer. Sometimes I feel as if I was born just a couple years too late.
I will never pass a YMCA without thinking about that man. Or sit through another sci-fi movie without thinking about what he would have liked about it and what he would have made fun of.
He always made me laugh.
And now I have to be sad and think about all the things he'll miss that he would have loved.
He won't get to see Spiderman or the rest of the Star Wars films. I'll never get his opinion on the next up and coming indie music artist. Like you, I have a hard time believing it. I'll still wait for a "ding" on the Internet one night and hope triceratops69 will be the sender. Even little things like that still crack me up.
So, when you have your little get together raise a glass to the guy for me because I don't drink. I wish I could drive up there and be with you guys to share these memories because then I could laugh through my tears with the other people who cared about him.
I have to say my life was a lot easier to take in stride because of his input. His perspective on things was astounding and I will never forget it."
Thank you Chad.
This was very sweet to get, and I plan on giving it to his family. I want to put together a little collection of memory things for his sister and mom, contacting friends to have them write out a little something for a collection. Say one nice thing about him please... but not immediately. I want to give a little time. I want a little distance. More perspective. Less crying.