A kid I went to school with died. A kid that I spent at least an hour with every day. I may not have been friends with him, I may not have really liked him, but I tolerated him, and he tolerated me, and even while most people in school called me a faggot or other such names, he was usually cool. In middle school I would have spitting contests with Bryan. Who could spit the farthest, who could spray their saliva the widest, who could freak girls out the most. He was the first kid I heard use the term “eat out.” And in context back then it sounded as awful as it does now. In 8th grade he made up a rap about me, and even when it started out kind of douchy, it rounded itself out with the word friend. When we walked at middle school graduation, we had a few words, just between us.
Our moms both took us on a trip to Washington DC. It was a class trip, but being that our mothers were there, it was kind of expected that we talk to each other a few times. And that was the most that came out of that. Our mothers hated each other, both being from opposite camps of “boys will be boys” with his mom being the much more liberal, let-them-make-mistakes-as-they-please camp. Bryan and I were in all sorts of extra curricular activities together, so it was always amusing seeing our parents together. The shallow hellos, the sideways glances, the awkwardness of untold bitching that sat over both of them. I’m sure Bryan got the same speech I got over and over, “His mother is a horrible woman. I can’t stand her!”
In high school, people are polarized. Bryan was to become the class clown, his fluffy brown hair bouncing on top of his slack-jawed face. He wasn’t unattractive, but his charisma was what struck people. I was a nerd, a drama geek, and a band geek. I like to think that I was the coolest of the uncool, but I think that just exemplifies the follies of high school males. Bryan would have been my total opposite as a goof-off ne’er-do-well, but still we were both in jazz. One of the things we had in common was a love for our instruments. Guitar on my part, bass on his. For almost 7 years, we sat next to one another, playing Baise, Santana, Ellington, not to mention red hot chili peppers….
Bryan isn’t the first person I’ve known who’s died. A crush from high school, a couple acquaintances, luckily no best friends. But still, I think about the ways that I could have been next. I used to do just as many drugs as Bryan. I used to sell them. I used to want to drop out or not go to school. I moved back to that awful suburb and started abusing prescription pills in my basement. I almost got arrested on a paraphernalia charge. My life is a bunch of “almosts” and “could haves” and I’m lucky, and thankful that I got away. Bryan wasn’t so lucky. He spent six months in a county jail doing time for a crime that I have committed, got out, and downed too much of something to kill the light. He was free, but wanted to be freer. His last words to the public: “I got a message from god last night… its all over.” I got a message from god, and it said to not fuck up like that. There were people asking him to call them. There was plenty of support, and while I wasn’t part of it, it wouldn’t have made a difference if I was. There are some things that we’ll all blame ourselves for. Not being there, not saying the words we had to say. I cant say that I have those regrets. Bryan and I hadn’t spoken in almost 4 years. His life was something I got second hand and only afterwards. His downfall, and my triumph stand in out dichotomy that has been and now is only magnified. He sleeps, I breathe. I may be sad for his death, but I’m glad he got what he wanted. I’m depressed because it could have been my family surrounding that casket years ago. But it’s not. And I swear to any god that will listen that it never will be. It never will be. It never fucking will be.