Two days before the accident, Nate sent me this text message. It’s a photograph of a smiling man and he has a yo yo with a photograph of a puppy printed on it. The puppy is tangled in yo yo string. Underneath is written: Yo dawg, I herd yo and yo dawg like yo yos so we put yo dawg in a yo yo so yo can yo yo yo dawg while yo dawg yo yos, dawg.
I replied ‘thanks dawg,’ he replied ‘Yeah dawg.’ The closing words of our long friendship.
Nate was a great reader of books and literature, a man with a large collection of movies and the ability to remember quotes from just about all of them. He was a skilled seeker of facts on his iPhone -- or The Bat Phone. He loved music, and he loved riding his motorcycle. He talked fondly of his bike rides around North GA, through Helen and Dahlonega, and at length about his Sturgis trip, something he was very proud of.
Nate was born March 3, 1982 in Elgin, Illinois. He once told me how the land was so flat in Elgin you could watch lightning storms pass by from miles away. When he was nine the family moved to Alpharetta, where Nate grew up. I often urged him to move to Atlanta, but he felt safe here. Alpharetta was his home. He died October 6, 2009. He was 27 years old when he died not a half a mile from his house.
I met Nate in 8th grade Health class when we were 13. He told me of shockingly illicit pictures that could be found on the internet, and how Green Day used to be punk, but by 1995 wasn’t anymore. In high school we were in the same Homeroom, and I practically moved into his parent’s house. Around the same time that he decided to play bass, I bought a drum set. We took some lessons, and began playing in a band with our friend Bradley.
Nate was a musician who wanted to play songs that people had fun listening to, music that moved people to jump and dance and yell. He once told me that he hated shows where people just stood around watching the band, and wanted every concert he performed to be a party, a good time for everyone. For one show, he bought a bag full of stuffed animals from Goodwill. Before every song he would goad the audience to dance, awarding the best dancer for each song an animal from the bag. At end of the show, the audience was completely exhausted, many of them proud owners of dirty stuffed animals.
Nate was an incredibly funny guy, with a sharp wit and a deep intelligence.
We collaborated on several short films where he played a furry yellow monster. Heavily improvised by Nate, I would give some vague direction and let the camera roll. He was brilliant. His sense of the absurd and his comic timing are amazing. I know he was very proud of these pieces.
Nate worked various jobs in his life, but never found what he was looking for professionally. The last time I saw him, three weeks ago, he said he was thinking about college, but wasn’t sure yet. We talked about getting the band back together, having a 10 year reunion show. He had quit smoking two years earlier, and had been working out every day. He was in the best shape I had ever seen him in, and he talked positively about the future.
Nate was the best kind of person, the best kind of friend, and the best kind of family. A gracious host, a patient listener, a solver of conflict. A gentleman, an artist, an adventurer. A boyscout, a clown, and a musician. Strong, noble, honest.
I know we are all having a hard time imagining a future without Nate. He was always there for us when we needed him. But as unfortunate as we are to have lost him, we are even more fortunate to have had someone of his caliber, of his magnitude, so close to us. I feel so proud to have known him, to have had him in my life.
Goodbye Nate. You will be missed more than these words can express.