Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I Wish I Had a River

            It's been that time of year again when I fight to keep from going under into the dark and swirling holiday murk that usually engulfs me in these months. And I'd managed to keep my head afloat pretty well, too - kept away from shopping malls with their never ending Christmas carols, away from their perky people bubbling over in shiny happiness, the holiday decorations that mean next to nothing to me save a distant reminder of my childhood. 

            After the Christmas day celebrations with my family I came home to smoke a cigarette on my little porch. I was scrolling through the new Facebook timeline feature on my profile and saw the first four people who had added me as friends in 2007. Among them was a boy that I had met through MySpace which was more popular at the time. He lived here, and I was still living in Cebu. He had sent me a message with his friend request, telling me he thought I was pretty and would I like to go to the beach sometime. You see, I had put down Jacksonville as my location. His profile picture was of himself in jeans, shirtless (looking good shirtless, I might add), standing on what I assumed to be a bar, wild hair, eyes shut, arms extended outward, his head tilted a bit toward his right shoulder, with a red plastic cup raised in his left hand. The lights and the background were blurred and there he was in the middle, vivid, swaying to music. He was  pretty good looking (That's an understatement. Hot is more like it.)  that is if you're partial to the epic hair, Harley-Davidson riding, sneaker-clad, Marlboro reds-smoking, chin-pierced, fun-loving, bad-boy type,  which I'll admit I am. We only exchanged a few messages, but I was flattered enough to look forward to them. He was a wild one, you could tell. I didn't know him, but I was intrigued by him. He just looked so alive. 

        Anyways, when Facebook became more popular, he added me there, too. We didn't exchange many more messages but I would sometimes see a 'poke' from him or something like that. When I arrived here nine months ago, I entertained the idea that I would look him up, try to strike up a friendship maybe, seeing as I didn't know anyone here outside of my family. Once I thought I had spotted him at a local mall. The idea would resurface sometimes, but I never acted on it. 

        So when I saw his little picture in that box on my Timeline, I clicked on it, curious to know what he was up to. I scrolled down the wall, reading the little messages from friends saying that they loved him, they missed him, etc. Now where could he have gone off to, I wondered. As I scrolled further down I realized he had died. 

        My mouth was agape in disbelief. What in the world?! How could someone so alive and so young be dead? This is a joke right? I scrolled down for a good 20 minutes, determined to discover how he had passed, reading more messages of love more 'RIPs'. And sure enough I found it. He had died in a motorcycle accident one month before I moved here. Jesus. I Googled the date and the words 'motorcycle accident' and found a video of the news that night, about a man who was in critical condition after an accident on a local road. There behind the reporter, in the middle of the road, the dark background slashed intermittently by red and blue police lights, was the outline of a motorbike on it's side. He had hit a car. No one else had been hurt. 

        I found my thoughts going back to him for the past couple of days. You might wonder why this would affect me considering I barely knew the person. But it does. I don't know exactly what, but it's something. This was a human being that I was connected to by a feeble string, despite that being composed entirely of half-forgotten e-mails, it was a connection, nonetheless; an awareness of another person's existence in this world.

       So what is it? A reminder that life is fleeting and tomorrow I could swerve and drive myslef off a bridge and it could all be over? A reminder maybe to act on those little things that you put off or push into the back of your mind? The things you want to do but are afraid to? I don't mean to say that he could have been the love of my life or anything like that, because he likely would not have been - I'm saying that I might have found a friend in this person. What kind of insight could this person have brought to my life? What kind of fun might I have had from knowing him just looking through his photos was such a riot? (The image of him at some party wearing nothing but a lime green Borat  man-kini with a drink in hand is still enough to make me smile. I kid you not. Rare is the man who can make that look good.)

       Maybe it's just to tell me to live my goddamned life because it's fucking passing me by. I don't know. But it means something.  

         Rest in peace my almost-friend. I wish I had known you.