Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Brian is gone.

I just learned that my high school friend Brian committed suicide while overseas.

Brian and I weren't close in high school, he dated a friend (Adriana) and was friends with friends of mine (Joe, Brian, Ben) but we didn't specifically associate with each other back then. There was one incredibly embarassing incident I'll never forget, though-- I had just started dating a guy from another high school, it was probably my first date with him, and we went to the community college's Pink Floyd laser show. I saw Brian and Adriana coming out of the earlier showing as we were entering, so I began the introductions, and completely forgot my date's name. Of course now I'll never forget it (Kevin Artl, I'm sure you're not reading this, but just in case, you have achieved immortality.) You know, I don't even remember if Brian really remembered that incident.

Keep in mind I went to high school in a Chicago suburb, and imagine my surprise when I ran into him in Austin years later-- I was taking a free swing dance lesson at the Carousel Lounge, I think with Drew Lippolt of all people, and Brian was visiting his dad who lived near Plano, about 3 hours away.

Brian and I sort of stayed in touch on an occasional basis-- he joined me and a gang of friends from law school for some tubing down the Guadalupe River one summer, he was my date at a friend's wedding, and we even dabbled in a romantic relationship at one point after law school. Brian was definitely a "jet setter" in my eyes. He dropped out of Berkeley where he studied computer science to join the team at Yahoo, waaaay long ago before their big success. He cashed out his stock options at a good time, because he bought a Boxster S, tooled around the country for a while, then zoomed off to Ibiza, Spain where he lived like a rock star for months and months. My understanding was he enjoyed some of the finest music and clubbing lifestyle as only a young, affluent, incredibly smart young guy can.

Brian came back to the States one summer, I guess it was summer of 2001 or maybe 2002, and joined me for an incredibly nice trip on the scenic highway in Virginia's Blue Mountains. He drove his Boxster all the way there from Texas to meet me-- he went to my aunt and uncle's 50th anniversary party one weekend, then we cruised around in the state and national parks on Skyline Drive for a few days before he headed back south and I went to my cousin Brett's wedding. That's the kind of generous thing Brian would do-- drive thousands of miles, on $800/set tires that only last like 20-30k miles to begin with, in a car that costs about $200 for an oil change and gets horrible gas mileage, to meet a friend who has a week to kill so she can drive his precious baby. That's Brian in a nutshell-- fun-loving, impulsive, generous, kind, extravagant.

He was also witty and dry-- SUCH a dry sense of humor-- and so darn smart. He was quick in every way. Quick speaking, quick to laugh, quick to poke fun, quick to make decisions. Brian never scrimped on compliments and was as quick to point out something lovely as most people are in criticizing.

Brian was a good salsa dancer. He accompanied me to a friend's wedding and took me out salsa dancing afterwards, long before I'd really gotten into salsa the way I have now. And I think the last time I actually saw him, he was just about finished with his degree at Berkeley (yes, he did return to finish it) and was in Austin briefly on his way to somewhere else-- maybe this is a year ago... he came by the salsa club and hung out for a while, danced with me a bit, and then was gone. I remember him smelling very strongly of cigarrette smoke and being surprised because I didn't think he smoked. The last time I heard from him, he was planning a trip to Costa Rica with a friend from school.

Then I think in February, he fell off the face of the earth, not communicating with anyone, friends or family. We (his high school friends and his parents) ran around like nuts for a while, everyone trying to locate him... his website was still active, but was it just automatic bill pay? A family member in law enforcement got his credit card records and learned from them that he was using his credit card in Basel, Switzerland. Phew, he was alive and not at the bottom of the jungle somewhere. At that point I figured Brian was just being an international man of mystery again, so I sent a final email saying he should stop playboying around long enough to send his parents an email or postcard-- I think I may have even called him a jackass, but with a smiley face-- and I assumed that was it.

Now I hear that Brian talked with his dad last week and said he was coming home-- but then last Friday, the State Department called his dad and said Brian committed suicide on Thursday May 24. I got the email over the weekend and I'm trying to get more information for friends. I plan on driving to Houston for the funeral on Saturday.

I can't believe this happened. I had no idea Brian was ever anywhere near suicide. I need more information to even start to process this-- until I get more data, it's just empty words that convey no meaning.

I'll miss him, though.

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