If you asked me about the past week, I’d probably tell you about my birthday and helicopter rides, ferris wheels, and tinfoil hats of the literal variety. But, if I were honest, I’d say the truth is that the beautiful and quirky boy I told every single one of my secrets to in high school is now dead. I’d tell you that he chose to ingest sodium cyanide in the middle of a plaza at his university on Wednesday and now he’s dead. He’s really and truly dead, and nothing is quite right right now.
The truth is that he and I drifted apart over the years but, since the day we first met, he has been my safe, my lockbox, and my treasure chest of stories shared in the dark. The truth is that he was the person that knew everything about me and didn’t care one bit about my dark and twisty bits. The truth is that I miss him, his intoxicating smile, his bubbly belly laugh he had for every single joke, his arm slung across my shoulders, and his playful hands over my eyes.
Explaining and defining Christian Taylor isn’t easy now and it wasn’t any easier when he was breathing. He was an amalgamation of extremes, like a combination of the most explosive chemicals he studied as a biochemistry major. He was an artist, big into literary journals and poetry slams, and an academic, science textbooks making his backpack larger than himself. He was an atom, somehow fluctuating between a greater number of electrons and protons, swinging from pole to pole and pulling everyone else along.
My sophomore and junior years of high school, I spent most evenings talking to him online even though I liked to tell my friends I was busy with other, cooler plans. We would debate philosophy and then rave about bands. We would argue about books and then laugh at jokes that really weren’t that funny. We would bemoan family and siblings and friendships and teachers and then begin again. We would be there for each other even though we didn’t admit to it in person or mention it to our other friends.
That was the thing about Christian and I, we knew each other online and we knew each other in person, but the relationships were separate at first. There was us online: debating, crying, exploring the darkest corners of our minds. Then there was us offline: cracking jokes, ragging on each other, and lying on the concrete waiting for our rides to pick us up after school. In the evenings, we were each others’ confidants, but at school we were each others’ quiet supporters. We were there when no one else was looking.
We only ever had one class together and it was Pre-AP Geometry. I think Mrs. Winter hated Christian and I think she strongly disliked me because we were the kids she could never get to put down our books or shut up. I was reading novels under my desk while my friend John crushed my Tic Tacs into “coke” and Christian was the boy nudge-nudging everyone with inside jokes. Knowing how we both turned out to be, who we turned out to be, it’s almost painfully hilarious that we were those silly kids back then.
There was this thing he used to do where he would walk into your conversation with someone else and act like he’d been there all along. He’d hear the word “music” and suddenly he was talking with everyone about The Tastydactyls, Billy Joel, and a German band that I could never pronounce. Or, he’d just jump in, talking about random things in strange accents—“Ooh, how are you? I’m well, thanks. Top of the morning to ya!” Some people thought he was insane, but I swear it was quite endearing.
He never failed to say “hello.” It didn’t matter if I saw him before classes or during classes, running down the middle of the hallway, waiting impatiently for a ride, or walking to my car in the rain—he’d slow down and let me know he was there. Even after we drifted, when we crossed paths in the Wal-Mart and I was ugly from running laps at the park, he stopped me and threw one of those full-faced smiles my way. I loved my other friends, I still do, and Christian and I never even called each other best friends but, we were each other’s person for however short a time.
Until this year, Christian was the only boy to ever write me poetry. He was the only boy I’d ever made mix CDs for that actually listened to them and gave an opinion on every song. The only boy to love me unconditionally without the promise of ultimate friendship or a relationship or an obligatory familial tie through the family tree. The only person who knew the pieces and parts of me that I’m still scared of today and that I try to forget about. Christian was something, someone extraordinary in what often feels like a truly ordinary world.
I want to slap myself now for not trying harder to keep those little bits of his heart and soul that he gave to me in his writing, hurriedly etched on notebook-paper scraps. I want to cry because I didn’t have a crush on him when he had one on me, but instead a year later when I was too scared to say anything about it. I want to scream because I didn’t try harder to keep in touch when I knew what he felt, what he’d thought about even back then. I want to curse him for doing what he did last week.
He was the most honest person I’ve ever met. When I first started dating the long-haired boy that I let break my heart, Christian warned me not to. He said it wouldn’t end well, he said he didn’t know the boy but that he wasn’t possibly good enough, and he asked me if I liked him at all. And, in the fallout of that breakup, Christian said “I told you so.” He didn’t mean it in arrogance or sarcasm though, he didn’t mean it to be derisive, he meant it as a good friend who never wanted to see me hurt in the first place.
When he was a sophomore and I was a junior, he had a crush on a girl with a heart-shaped face and an adorable name to match. From everything he said, it sounded like she hung the moon and then personally hung out with the boy who lives in it. But, as life would have it, she must have preferred the imaginary boy in the moon to my darling, Christian. We spent weeks raging over the injustice of love and crushes and friendships and life. We spoke about edges and ledges and just hanging on a lot after that.
It wasn’t that the girl was evil or to blame for anything. She had every right not to like Christian “like that” and we both knew that. But, by then, we were both spiderweb-cracked glass, just waiting for the shattering and she was something “bad” to focus on for a moment before everything else became “bad” too. Our emotions were…tumultuous to say the least. We egged each other on as much as we drew each other back and, to put in it perspective, Sylvia Plath was probably the most positive conversation topic we addressed at that point. But, damn it if we didn’t care about each other.
At some point, we settled down. Our conversations didn’t always end up on matters of life and death, and I guess we assumed that we were both happier or at least somewhat resolved. You might say we leveled out. But, I think that’s when the problems really set in for us. We were resolved—to fate, to death, to absolution, to not getting or having anything or anyone in life—and we clung to each other. We spoke more at school, walking between classes and sitting together after club meetings. But, it’s funny now because I don’t think anyone realized we were friends then either.
His middle name was Amadeus. He loved the color red. He wanted so badly to believe in religion and god and an afterlife, but he just couldn’t make it all compute. He had a love/hate relationship with many books, but he had never read a truly dislikable character until he read On the Road by Jack Kerouac. He could play hacky sack pretty well, but he would jump in when he saw me trying to play along with friends and he’d play as horribly as I did to make me feel more comfortable. He just did things like that.
A while later he got into theater club and classes, and I stuck with the yearbook staff and robotics. He played in the plays and I took the photographs of him doing so. I worked the camera and he dragged me around football fields, club meetings, and hallways to get the best angles, to film the polaroid-worthy shots. I wasn’t thankful enough for him then. I don’t think I’m even thankful enough for him now but, god, I miss him like a part of me because when I graduated, our friendship died out with the distance.
The only way I know how to describe what he did is to say that he rose above me in the best of ways. He finished high school while I started college and then he went to College Station, while I stuck with a more local branch of the same university. He studied science and got involved in lab work that led him to rave about spore germination in yeast and the smell of thiol jars on facebook. He made it into The Eckleburg Project and had his poetry published in a friend’s old-school zine. Damn it, that beautiful boy, that wonderful man was going places.
Maybe I don’t have a right to be upset now that he’s gone when we vanished from the forefront of each other’s minds a few years gone past, but I can’t help the tears that well up when I picture his face. I can’t help the fact that I’m crying in department stores because I see stupid suspenders that he would have bought. I can’t help it that I’m struck breathless by the site of a shrimpy kid in an ill-fitting JROTC uniform. I can’t stop the memory that resurface when I’m trying to fall asleep in bed and think about how, only a few years ago, I would have been talking to him.
Good friends are supposed to be hard to come by, but I have been blessed, lucky, fortunate to have so many wonderful ones. I have my sister chick and my brother-from-another-mother, I have the people that modern technology has gifted me, and for too brief a time I had Christian. I will never forget his words or his caring, his intellect or his fervor, his heart or his art. He is engraved in my heart and, though it’s not enough, though it hurts to think of his wonderful life, I will carry him with me.
Given how much of an impact Christian had on me in so short a time, I can only imagine what his family and other friends are going through now, in the aftermath of this tragedy. I can only wonder if they were able to get in their goodbyes during his 48 hours in some unimaginably dreadful state in the hospital. And, ultimately, I can only hope that they have someone like him to count on during this hard time to bring them out of the all-consuming darkness. Everyone deserves a beautiful boy, a wonderful man, like him.
Christian, the powerful play goes on, but you have contributed a verse.
these puppies believe in you, and you should too
It’s a beautiful thing when two people know each other so well that they can call each other out on their bullshit. Seriously, doesn’t it make everything so much simpler when one person can honestly say “You’re being terrible/shitty/bitchy right now,” the other can say “Well, fuck, I didn’t realize. I’m sorry,” and then both of them can get on with life? Passive aggressive behavior just makes everything too complicated.
James and Lily Potter Week is July 28th - August 3rd, 2014 [x]
There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.
Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy.
Queen of tumblr Chloe doing ALS Ice Bucket Challenge