12 October 2011

Nate Dent

In the two years since Nate has gone, I've gone through three jobs, moved twice, got engaged....things are different. October is also different. Without even trying...Nate comes around without any effort. Without even thinking about Nate....I started trying a pompadour hairstyle. Then I look in the mirror all combed up and remember how Nate would wear his hair like that. Today at work, listening to my iPod I heard Rancid's version of "If the Kids Are United." It was only released on Give 'Em The Boot II and I remember Nate had already figured out the opening bass riff and was playing it when I went to see him. "It's not that hard," he said "Matt Freeman isn't really that great of a bass player. He just uses blues riffs." Kinda cocky. Kinda brilliant. Totally Nate. Love it!

I say love it because Nate is still very real for me in a lot of ways. I remember when Robert set up this blog and I had told him about the idea I had. It was to collect memories. I had so few memories of Nate that I started hunting for more. Writing them down. Asking other people who knew him for ANYTHING they could remember. And then I hit a road block. I ran out of memories. I was truly horrified and racing through my own brain trying to get Nate back in another way. I told a friend who had never met Nate about running out of memories. I was sobbing and his words were the wrong ones. Even if they were the right ones I doubt they would have consoled me. I mean....you can't remember anything else about your friend who is gone forever and you won't have a chance to make anymore memories of him? There aren't good words or right words. There are barely right things to do.

Today was oddly consoling because I'd forgotten about Nate playing that Rancid bassline. Two years later and I found a new memory.

I was listening to a Columbia University professor of physics talk about how we alter time through movement. How just by walking to the bus stop you are altering the very fabric of space. It's amazing. Robert and I usually talk or text around this time of year too. Robert mentioned how Nate had dented October. I think this might be literally true. If a person walking to a bus stop can alter space, then a person's total absence....especially someone as big as Nate (not just physically...but....physically too I guess) would absolutely dent space and time. However, this dent....it's not empty for me. Not completely anyway. The odd occurrences. Nate resurfacing in my memory with no effort on my part.....that sure is something magical. I walk around with small parts of him. Anyone who knows him did. Odd flits here and there. A thought. A look. A word. All the good things Nate was....he still is through people who knew him. It can't ever compare to him being alive and with us. It's still a good thing though. Am I calling it Heaven? Immortality? I dunno about all that stuff, but I know a good thing when I see it. A Nate dent? A dent left in the universe that was unique in all the ways Nate was unique? I think it's real.....and I'm glad it's here. I'd rather have Nate, but I'm grateful he left a dent for us.

Two Years

Two years ago today was Nate's funeral.  It was absolutely one of the most difficult, awful things in my life I've ever had to go through. He was so young, so good, so strong.  He was a solid constant in all of our lives, and his loss is still a profound shock.  I feel like I lost a brother, someone who I had planned on sharing more time with, more future with.   I think of him every day, and wish I could share with him everything that's happened since he left.  I wish he could tell me all the things he's been up to, the adventures he's had in the past two years.   He was such an impressive person, there's no doubt that he'd have done amazing things.

After the wake and the funeral two years ago, I had a hard time leaving.  When I closed my eyes I'd be standing by Nate in his coffin, or helping to push him into the hearse, watching it drive him away.  It was more terrible than I'd ever thought it could be. I felt defined by my grief, by what had happened to my friend, my brother, to the details of his death and the injustice of the whole thing.

But I've since been able to step back from Nate, my Lost Friend, the one we saw in our black suits and pinned flowers.   Lately when I close my eyes, I'm with him the last time I saw him alive.  We made plans for when we'd see each other again, play music, maybe another game of paintball.  We hugged like family and parted ways.

His life is what defined him, what helped to define all of us.   I'm glad to leave today to two years ago.  Let it stay there.

I miss you, Nate.  We all do.

02 March 2011

Nate's Birthday

Tomorrow, March 3, is Nate's Birthday.  He would be 29.

I'm sure he would have planned some awesome fun time.  I missed his 27th because I had to work super late that night, but I would have been able to go this year for sure.  Nate was always an exceptional host and knew how to have a good time.

Last year we put flowers and a birthday balloon at the accident site.  I haven't heard any plans for tomorrow yet.  I'll probably go to a figure drawing session, which is kind of like going to the Pink Pony, except quiet and focused and no drinking.

23 January 2011

memorial Tattoo

So Sarah MacDonald, an old friend of Nate and I, recently got a memorial tattoo based off a sketch I drew.  It's a character Nate played in a series of short movies we made together.  And that's his bass and lightning bolt strap.

So this is what Sarah's arm looks like now

and the original sketch, in case anyone else wants to get one

13 January 2011

Court Date

I'm not sure people are still reading this and if they do I'm sure they already know about the court date for the boy who was involved in the accident regarding Nate. Alysia sent out a big message on Facebook asking us to submit any statements we might have about Nate to be read. I kept thinking about it. I kept thinking about how the family was trying to make sure that after Nate lost everything, their boy lost as little as possible. I'm not saying I hate him or he's bad or anything like that. I think it was exactly what I called it. An accident. But I also remember one of my favorite webcomics (Basic Instructions) saying that just because you act like there are no consequences doesn't mean there aren't. I feel like Nate had two sides to him that somehow meshed together well. On the one hand, he was a tad risky. He liked to do exciting things in big ways. But on the other hand, he was responsible in a really rock solid way. I feel like that was the stronger side. Did he like to go have a good time? Sure. But he paid for it out of his own pocket. Did he like to ride? You bet. But never unless he was adequately safe. Someone who was physically tall enough to have his head in the clouds while his feet were simultaneously on the ground. I never appreciated it while he was around.

I kept thinking about how responsible Nate was and I kept thinking about "what if the tables were turned? What if instead of Nate being gone he was on trial for taking the life of a 16 year old?" This is what I wrote when I thought about that.

"It seems odd to me that I am now so distanced from driving through the streets of Golden, Colorado sobbing on my way to teach because I had learned the day before my friend Nate had been killed. Hard to type it and think about it and with friends who share the loss I almost avoid bringing it up because it would feel like picking at a scab that won't heal anyway. Nate was a lot of things I didn't like sometimes. He could be mean. Sometimes he wanted things to be his way and was very insistent that they were. Sometimes he just irritated you. However, when we were teenagers and when we got older I started to realize that Nate was a beacon of responsibility in a way I didn't quite understand then. Before any of us were forced into part time jobs by parents, Nate was already working a late shift at a video store near his parents' house. What were we doing while Nate was working? Well, I can recall going there and irritating him by being a teenager while he was entrusted with a business. While most of us were screwing around at college or screwing around not at college, Nate was holding down a full time job at Honda and earning his own keep. In addition to this, he was playing in a lot of bands that had obtained mid-level success which can be sometimes more than a full time job. When he decided to quit these bands and leave the success a lot of us had dreamed about in high school I asked him why. "Well Paul," he said "If you're the one who can pay the way....you usually do." It was then I realized that Nate had not only bore his own responsibility, but he had taken on the responsibilities of so many others. But I don't think you'd hear him complain. He bowed out yes, but quietly and because he wanted to make sure he fulfilled his own responsibilities. After he died, my friend Robert talked about what a huge loss this was for him. He felt like Nate was the one he could always always count on to be there. The solid responsible rock. In my days as a teacher, I often was a first-hand witness to watching parents try to make sure that the consequence of error did not fall squarely on the shoulders of their children, where it belonged. Today, I think about how Nate often showed all of us what responsibility was. Not with a lot of words (as I'm doing), but by doing it. And I can't help but think that if he were sitting in a seat in a courtroom having taken someone else's life through mistakes and shirking his responsibility he would not ask to be spared the consequences. As a man, long before any of his boyhood friends knew what it meant, I think he would stand up and accept the consequences of errors he had made. My only hope now is that those who have erred and cost fellow human beings a son, brother, bandmate and dear dear friend will not be spared on account of being a boy. For it is in these errors and their consequences as boys and girls that people learn to become men and women frightened but ready to face any dangers that can and most certainly will fall on their doorstep."

Because of time and financial constraints (in addition to living in Colorado) I can't be there on the court date. I'd like to ask for anyone who can be there to be there.