Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Sunday, October 03, 2010

One for Dave

(I've already posted on his memorial site, so I'll put this one here.)

It was the summer just before I entered junior high school, and I was at an event at the church my family attended at the time. Actually, the "event" part had already pretty much ended, and it had become a meeting of some sort. For a restless pre-teen like myself, that translated as "excruciatingly boring". However, as my restless gaze wandered about focusing on everything but the speaker, I noticed something that finally grabbed my attention. There was someone I'd never seen before standing at the blackboard in the corner drawing a picture of a TIE fighter. I perked up immediately.

Unlike the other boys my age at the church, I was a sci-fi buff (i.e. a total geek), not to mention a die-hard Star Wars fan. I also liked drawing. Seeing someone there with common interests seemed almost too good to be true, so I immediately went over to check out this newcomer. We wound up testing each other's sci-fi knowledge, drawing sketches of such things as the Eagle from "Space: 1999" and the Lunar Interceptor from "UFO" (while our respective parents glared at us with annoyance and embarrassment). Thus began my friendship with Dave.

He was certainly a unique individual, both talented and eccentric to extremes. My parents and other friends at the time weren't quite sure what to make of him. As the time went by, however, he generally endeared himself to everyone. He had an infectious sense of humor and a generally positive, easy-going, "Why worry?" outlook on life. He also proved to be an extremely loyal friend. It's not that we always got along well; actually, we bickered almost constantly (a fact that led more than one person to ask if we were brothers). There were also times when his loyalty could be more of a liability than an asset (such as two occasions when he tried to intervene in my love life...with catastrophic results). If anything, Dave was good (sometimes TOO good) at making things happen.

In fact, Dave proved to be a major influence in my life as well as in the lives of others. Our joint efforts with regard to our love of drawing and fantasy/sci-fi produced things that I still use today in ways I hadn't imagined at the time. It was also with Dave that I formed my first band, with myself on guitar, and he and I both started writing songs together. He was also the one that first introduced me to the world of studio recording, first when he took a studio engineering class and used me as his test subject and again when he bought a multitrack recorder and showed me how to use it. He was also the first member of our circle of friends to get a car, a big, brown Impala station wagon (nicknamed the "Starship Impala" by some) that came to be our group's cruise mobile. Dave not only offered us an escape from boredom and into a wide variety of life experiences, but he also provided us invaluable glue that kept our circle together and even helped make it bigger. Perhaps the strongest testament to his influence is the fact that, as we've come to see so clearly now, much if not most of the circle is still tied together even despite the distances.

As we grew older, our respective paths led us in very different directions. We attended Clackamas Community College together. I graduated with honors, transferred to Oregon State, and from there went directly to my new life in Japan. Dave, on the other hand, was never a very willing student, being more interested in his own projects than the study courses, and so he finally dropped out and joined the Army. His time in the military helped indulge his love of machines as he worked on Bradley fighting vehicles, M1 tanks, and Hummers. It also gave his thinking a much stronger political slant to add to his already fervent religious beliefs. Our infrequent contact via letters was boosted tremendously by the introduction of the internet, but that also led to some very inflammatory discussions. At times our comment thread interchanges became openly vitriolic (as regular visitors to this blog should know well), and there was more than one occasion when he broke all contact with a huff, but somehow we always managed to overcome it in the end. No matter how heated the political/religious/social/psychological feud became, the tie of longtime friendship always seemed to be stronger.

However, as it turned out, though Dave was already very tall for his age when I first met him and not lacking in bulk as an adult, his body wasn't as strong as it appeared. It seems that longtime issues finally caught up with him and, coupled with more recent problems, produced a deadly mix that even his happy-go-lucky attitude couldn't withstand. He never revealed any of this to those of his friends he stayed in touch with; his posts and comments on Facebook and on blogs remained mostly positive right up till the end. Tellingly, however, his very status post on Facebook was a clip from a Bible verse, specifically Matthew 17:20: "...if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move." Dave passed away peacefully in his sleep two days later, on September 21st of this year, his loyal dog by his side and a copy of "The Shack" sitting open nearby. He has gone on to what lies beyond for him, and the rest of us are left to deal with the shock and the sudden empty hole in our lives.

Considering the influence he has had on my life, far greater than I ever really considered till now, that hole seems very large indeed. Here's one for you, Dave.

P.S. I'm planning on making a musical tribute to Dave taken from our musical beginning, but for now here's a little instrumental entitled "Starship Impala" to help stir the waters.


  • Not much to say but thanks for expressing yourself.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 2:12 PM  

  • Oddly enough, or perhaps understandably, from reading his comments and your responses I was one of those who thought he might be your brother.

    Appropriate music. All we can say at such times in my tradition is "namoamidabutsu" - a hope to understand it all someday.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 5:44 PM  

  • Dude, the Eagle! I had one of those as a toy when I was a kid. Remember the monster that had a bunch of tentacles and a single eye that would grab people underneath it, and send them out as a burning husk? Ah, memories.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

    By Blogger DewKid, at 9:25 AM  

  • It makes me sad. So sorry about your loss, MM. Reading both your exchanges in the comments gave me the impression that you must be very close.

    By Blogger HappySurfer, at 10:48 PM  

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