Remembering a Friend
This morning on my way to school, on came a song that I remembered first hearing in the dorms. Freshman year at SU, I made friends with a lot of people from our sister school, SUNY-ESF, and Lary Reeves was one of them. He was THE punk on campus, having the hugest mohawk, and crustiest patched pants anyone had ever seen. I went to his dorm to screen-print patches for our jackets. This was a punk right of passage, and I was stoked to finally be learning how to do it myself.
While we were doing “crust punk” stuff, his roommate was listening to pop-emo stuff that I liked. I was afraid to ask him what it was for fear of being judged by the Crass and Black Flag-listening Lary. Well, I did, and I found out the band was Northstar.
After doing our punk thing, I went back to my dorm, promptly hopped on Kazaa and downloaded the Northstar album. It was pop and emo and awesome. They ended up on the ipod that I still have today, and they came on this morning for the first time in years.
I started thinking about that roommate of Lary’s and wondered how he was doing. I thought to myself, “How cool it would be to reconnect.” Then I laughed. I never learned this kid’s name. I haven’t talked to Lary in almost a decade. Such is the nature of college. It is four years together, making some amazing memories, and then onward.
Lary is doing well (I know from his instagram where he shows the insects he studies for his job back in Gainesville, Florida). He has 100 thousand followers, and to me, that’s an indicator of him being happy (doing something that the general public thinks is really cool...so he must think it’s cool and have a good time doing it...right?). Regardless of whether that is actually true or not, I sure hope he’s doing well. I’m the type to check-in on people as often as I can, so maybe we’ll talk sometime soon. But, his freshman year roommate? From 2002-2003? Yeah right! He is one of one of the people I am sure I’ll never talk to ever again. It’s actually only one-degree of separation, and I could find out his name from Lary I guess. Am I going to make the effort? Honestly, I’m kind of interested in doing this now. Maybe thank him for unintentionally showing me Northstar. It would be interesting to see what he’s doing. Maybe back home where he came from? I actually think he may have been from China. So that would be cool if he was back there after studying in the US! Either way, he’s one of about four-thousand Freshmen that year at SU and ESF. We shared the campus with another twelve-thousand Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors and Grad Students that year also. Then the next class of 2003-4, who had thousands of new Freshman, some who I ended up befriending as well.
|Nick, Billy, Nicole, Andrew, Kevin, Kyle|
College Roommates on Graduation Day 2006
Did I ever meet everyone? Nope. Did a lot of our paths cross? Well, if we met through mutual acquaintances or roommates or classmates in August of 2002, and went to school together until June 2006, it could be likely we at least passed each other on campus a few times.
This essay isn’t actually about these folks though. It is about the people who meant something to me during college. People who I still consider my true friends. Freshman and Sophomore years were spent in dorms, where you become friendly with everyone on your floor at the very least. I remember some of my floormates, but keep in touch with nearly none. Maybe a few via social media. But Junior and Senior years, when I had my own house with seven-eight other mates, we made some serious bonds. I keep in contact with many of them, and miss one of them, dearly departed, during this month of November.
Kevin Pieluszczak was someone I met Freshman year. We both went to hardcore shows and were both vegan straight edge, so we ran in the same circles. When choosing where we’d live off-campus Junior year, we decided to shack up with a bunch of friends on a street about a mile from campus. It was Kevin, Nick Ryan (who later opened Strong Hearts Vegan Cafe), and myself on the second floor. Other friends on the first and third. I like to think our floor was the coolest and most fun.
The three of us all actually grew up in Central New York. We didn’t know each other previous to SU, but had a lot of mutual friends and ended up creating a space in our house for a lot of the non-student hardcore and punk kids to come over and hang out. We ended up having potlucks every Sunday night. A LOT of people will remember these, as we must have had over fifty of them over the course of those two years in that house. They were very memorable, and led to a lot of shenanigans either afterwards or during.
Kevin and I shared a number of different kinds of relationships, including one based on our animal rights activism. We did various forms of demonstrations, and trained some extreme tactics (like tree-sits) where we repelled down huge drops, trusting the other to hold our ropes and prevent us from falling. That’s trust man. We also got into a little trouble together, but this essay isn’t about that either ;)
Kevin: "Let's get this set up safely"
Me: "Thaaat's a long way down"
In 2009, after I moved to California, Kevin took a road trip out here to visit me. The sadness and significance of this trip was that it was near the end of his life. He had been diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, and was slowly losing his battle with cancer. I feel weird saying that this was his “final” trip to see the country, but with the way things ended up turning out, it actually was.
He visited right before Christmas. We stayed at my new place in Santa Cruz for a few days and explored. These were my “younger” days where staying up late was still a thing, and our relationship was one where our best mischief was had in the midnight hour. One night after a late night walk down the closed Santa Cruz Wharf to hang with the sea lions, he mentioned to me how his back was hurting more than usual and he was about to use up the last of his medication. He had three days until it ran out, so he said he would have to leave very soon to get back home and take care of things back in Syracuse.
This is a 3,000 mile trip and wasn’t something someone in his position had to do alone. I had just got first California job at Gold’s Gym Santa Cruz. What ended up happening? That was a no-brainer; I quit and took a trip with my brother.
This trip home was quick, but epic. It was one of many of my cross-country trips, and will be remembered as the quickest. We booked it from Santa Cruz to Syracuse in three days, sharing the driving, downing Rockstars, and making it back safely to take care of business. I remember really liking his Matisyahu cd, and he gave it to me. I jam that bad boy to this day. It reminds me of him.
To Be Continued...