I met Tim at the Burger King on 88th and Wadsworth in Arvada, Colorado in my junior year of high school. We went to high school together, but he was a big popular soccer player and I was a complete, scary, theater geek dork who had just moved to Colorado after leaving her insane mother in the middle of the night in Delaware. I'd seen him, but never knew his name. We had a monumentally different core friend group.
Anyway, some friends and I were out driving around the mall and some guys in a car started following us. One of my friends knew them and so we let them follow us to the Burger King. I can't remember what we talked about, but I do know that by the end of the night, Tim and I were running around laughing our asses off, crowing each other Queens and Kings with those paper Burger King hats.
I never expected to talk to him again, knowing how the social structure in high school goes, but he totally came up to me a few days later and said hi. And then he called me over to his locker one day, just to talk. We ended up being really good friends. His boys, THE boys, gave him more crap than I can ever begin to describe to you for hanging out with me. One day, I was walking away from them in the hall and they gave me that glare-with-a-shoulder-bump thing that asshole jocks give people they don't like, and as I walked on I heard him say, "Shut up, I just like her. She's nice. You could be, too, you know."
You stick up for my honor? You're stuck with my ass for life.
We graduated and I gave him a Burger King Hat, he wrote something very sweet in my yearbook, and that was that. A year, a year and a half later, I ran into him somewhere. My boyfriend and I were broken up, and so Tim and I went out to Ground Zero in Boulder (and if you know what that is, congrats, you're ancient) and had one of those one-thing-leads-to-several-nothers nights. I'd tell you the details which are actually quite funny, but honestly it's one of the most silly, romantic, awkward memories I have, and I'm keeping it to myself.
We never "dated." We just hung out. A LOT. I was living with a friend with a colicky baby, and he'd come over at night to help me with her. We never went out on dates, I never met his mom, we just watched movies and ate Snack Packs and did other things I won't mention. We were young, not even 20 yet, single, not looking, and old friends. It was safe and easy and comfortable.
And then my 20th birthday came. I didn't hear from him, and I noticed that I hadn't heard anything. My nose was actually bent a little out of shape about it. We weren't dating, he didn't owe me a call or flowers or anything, and I had no right to expect any. I went to bed kind of upset over the whole thing, even though I'd had a lovely party with a bunch of friends.
I should mention here that my roommate and I shared a bed because the baby had the second room.
I stirred in the middle of the night because I thought I felt something at my feet. I thought it must be Jen, and so I rolled over and tried to get back to sleep, when I realized that I was really feeling something at my feet. I froze for a second and then ever so slowly, I tried to sit up. Right there, right in front of my face, was Tim. In my bed, damn near right on top of me, grinning his dorky ass off.
Dude, what the FUCK do you think you're doing?
To which he replied, "It's your birthday. You didn't think I'd miss your birthday, did you?" And he leaned up, gave me a quick kiss, and ran out of the room. I jumped up, followed him out, and in the living room I asked him exactly how he'd gotten in, since the doors were all locked.
"I broke in through the patio door, of course." "Dude, the patio door is on the balcony, three full stories from the ground. How'd you get up?" "Oh, that. I climbed all the balconies."
He climbed. All three balconies. In the middle of the night. To say happy birthday. TO ME.
I told him he could leave the way he came in, and he did just that.
He continued his very non-committal relationship with me for a few months, even though his friends we still downright pissed at him for seeing me. We had a really great time together, and then my ex and I decided it was high time to give us another go. I went into the place where Tim worked to tell him I couldn't exactly be sleeping with him anymore, and I saw something I fully did not expect to see. The dude's lip quivered. He stammered. He wished me luck and walked away.
Oh, fuck, dude. You liked-me liked me, and you never told me? FUCK.
Anyway, I didn't see him after that for a long time. He moved to Florida, and his friends who so disliked me eventually came around. I'd see them out occasionally, and they said that Tim sold them on me, and that they were sorry they'd been so mean, and that they'd misjudged me. At our 10 year high school reunion, 8 years after our little thing, one of them had Tim on the phone and handed it to me.
We totally re-connected. We'd talk on the phone sometimes, email sometimes, and once he called me all drunk and told me he loved me. And then he handed the phone to his drunk friend, also in Florida, who told me that, Oh yeah, he loves you.
That is why I was nervous to have lunch with him. We have a lot of emotional history, after all. Lunch that day was totally nice, though. We talked about his job, how he'd finally managed to leave Florida, and my kids. We just caught up, like good little grown ups, and made tentative plans for another lunch.
I can't remember if we actually made it to another lunch, but he and his friends used to come to my bar about once a month to hang out. We were emailing pretty consistently again and texting back and forth and just kind of around in each other's lives, you know? A few months before I moved back to Canada, and back with Josh, Tim and his same two friends and I all met out at some Denver bar for drinks. Tim was smashed by the time that I got there and it wasn't an hour before he had to go home. I hung out with the other guys for a while who explained to me that the reason he was so smashed was that he was nervous to see me. That he was going to try to make his move that night.
(Aside: It wouldn't have worked. Just throwing that out there.)
I talked to him the next day on the phone, just for a second, to make sure he'd gotten on the right train home, and I haven't spoken to him since. I've sent a few emails, and a little while ago I sent him a friend request on Facebook, but he never answered it.
He died last weekend of unknown causes.
He'd apparently met a girl, got married, came home from his honeymoon and had some surgery on his ankle. Four days later his brand new bride found him unconscious and not breathing. 3 1/2 weeks in a medically induced coma brought no help, and his wife and family pulled the plug last weekend.
I know a lot of people who've died; like, an unreasonable amount. Most of my houses in my chart are in death. It kind of surrounds me and shit. But I've never had someone this physically close to me die, and I'm having a really hard time processing it. Some whom I've lost, I can pinpoint their smell, or the feel of their hand in my memory. This one, I've got a pretty good recollection of through every single sense, and even though it's been more than a decade, and more than a lifetime without him having a big presence in my life, I find myself aching today. Some part of me feels like there's a void. The saddness that comes with that feeling is, quite frankly, shockingly low.
I never told him how much he meant to me. I never thanked him for sticking up for me for all those years. I never said I was sorry for ignoring how he felt and just going about my way. I never said a lot of things I ought to have. His services are on Tuesday in Denver, and I am going to try to find a way to be there so I can say these things to the ether, and maybe, if I'm very wrong about some of my core beliefs, he'll catch them. In case I can't make it, I'm putting it here, and sending it out from me, and I hope it gets where it needs to.
Tim, you changed my life. You made some very awkward years easier for a scared girl who just couldn't handle anything harder than what she was facing already. You were the first boy who ever was "interested" in me, and you were a perfect gentleman from start to finish. It's men like you that restore my faith in mankind in general. I will cherish every single moment I've ever had with you, and don't think I don't know how lucky I am to have had them. When it comes time for me to tell my boys about how to treat a woman, you will be the first example I bring up.
I will miss you, my old friend. I thank you, and I'm sorry. You are not dead in my heart, and you never will be, as long as I have one.