sadly, the post about funerals proved to be a little too prophetic. one unthinkable tragedy later and i'm here, mourning the loss of a good friend, and wishing against all wishes i could be there with his family and friends, as if my presence could make a difference in the cold truth. as if anything could change what happened.
but nothing can. last night, wrestling with the news, i found myself frantically racking my brain, asking myself...when was the last time i saw Paul? what were we doing? how come i fell out of touch with him, slowly, over the years?
and then i realized, all at once, that it didn't matter. that i don't clearly remember the last time i saw Paul because he was one of those friends, the ones that you'll have forever. that we had so many memories, so much of our formative years spent together, that each parting was just a pause until life brought us together again. that when i said goodbye to him that last time, i was in no way aware i was saying anything other then "till next time." because, with a friendship like we shared, the "next time" was implied.
so let me tell you about the Paul i knew.
he was a gawky middle-schooler, a handsome high schooler. in and out of college, he always managed to surround himself with friends. he had a band he toured with, and you could tell he thought that was the coolest thing ever. he was years away from realizing the incredible potential he really had. he was a phone call on Bob Marley's birthday. he was a righty who played the bass lefty. he was friday afternoon frisbee in the park. he was my best friend's boyfriend. he was an on-going game of Connect 4. he was the kid who never took english class seriously, who made you wonder why you took classes seriously at all. he wore shoes so big i could store my phone AND my keys in them. he skateboarded in those shoes (before they were a purse). he had this plaid suit my mother loved. he brought cereal to the fancy christmas dinner every year, without fail. he built fires in the rain and said the smoke didn't sting his eyes. he drove around town without using his brakes, coasting into turns and driving other motorists crazy. physics made him think about the world, about how it all worked. he made me think about teleportation. he climbed trees. he climbed rocks. jumped off cliffs. went off the rope swing. no one could ever say he didn't take chances. he was up for adventures. camping by the river. camping out on golf courses. eating the "s'mores" wyatt made. for late night treks around the jungle that is green hills. hiking to the electric light place, all of us, looking out over the city's nighttime scene. he had a flash-flight, and always wanted to throw it no matter how dewy the grass was. he wasn't afraid to attempt the gallon challenge. whole milk, never skim. he was a good hugger, just as good at goodbyes as he was at hellos. he was an amazing artist, whether the medium was markers, spray paint, or tie-dye. he was a vibrant patch in the colorful quilt our friends made, and nothing will ever change that. nothing can ever change that.
last night, alone in my house, overwhelmed by a deluge of memories, i was slowly overcome by something else, as well. the feeling that he was there, in my room, with me. it hasn't left. he walked the sandy paths of the village with me, enjoyed the wind in his hair as the gelly carried me towards the city, towards a link to the people i need to reach. he beat me to the abandoned computer lab, so i wouldn't feel alone. Paul is with me, even as i write these words. he's with all of us. the feeling that he is here doesn't keep the tears from coming, but it does provide some comfort to know that even though his body is gone, we can each carry a little piece of him with us.
paul cobb, you were, you are, loved.