The headlines is not for dramatic effect. Some recent news one of my old friends on Long Island told me took me offguard. Especially with my 35th birthday coming up Wednesday. I just needed to get this off my mind.
First a bit of context… I didn’t come out of the closet until 2004 at the age of 20, just a few months after my father had passed away. It wasn’t until about 2008 that I went to my first gay bar. A late bloomer? Sure. When you work full-time, go to graduate school at night, and try to see how long you can stretch $20 in a night, stuff like bars becomes a secondary priority.
The name of the bar was The Bunkhouse, it was kind of a”deluxe” dive bar on long island. Complete with a dance floor, inside & outside bar, light show, loud music, and what I’d call the usual suspects. Over the course of a few years I made some friends in that particular scene. I only communicate with maybe 2 or 3 of them at all these days.
One of them I’ll call R. Lean build, looked like he was into partying, would occasionally, and be a social drinker. We never dated or anything, but he was always easy to talk to. The kind of guy who you could just vent to and he knew just what to say. I wanted to see more of him, but things didn’t quite work out. I met someone, then left New York state. Last year he messaged me something very brief, like hello man, what’s up. No verbose array of questions to connect the last 8 years like points on a map, or even anything simpler about how life is in Texas, or if I’m seeing someone. It was still nice to know that he thought of me. I won’t go into reasons here why I didn’t try to pursue things further, but they were / are valid.
A mutual friend of ours told me he passed away last Sunday after battling cancer for 6 months. I really wasn’t sure what to say, other than be shocked. You don’t expect a 35 year old you remember as being fairly healthy to suddenly be gone.
I was down for a couple days. Even though we weren’t close, it’s still a sense of loss. I have this idealistic view in my mind that no one should die of health-related conditions in 2018 before the age of 70. He was halfway there, half of his life ahead of him. Maybe he could have cleaned up his act, found a career, husband, a house, done a fancy vacation most of the instagays go on these days. Maybe we could have just had a few drinks and catch up on old times…. Gone too soon.