Archive for March, 2009


Coming of Age part 3

It was drugs.  The friends he was with left him there.


There’s two ways I can look at this.  The first one I’m most comfortable with.  It’s the one that assures me that I’m arrogant for thinking that I played a role in Aaron’s life large enough to make a difference.  Really.  It was 14 years ago and how many people do you share life with in 14 years?  I know that there must have been people there in the end trying to prevent what happened.  I know this is true.

The second perspective demands acknowledgement that, yes, there was a brief moment in Aaron’s life when I had a chance.  There was a time when I could have done something.  But Jesus, you don’t think about that when you’re 14.  You can only reflect later.


When I think of Aaron, I’m back in his living room staring at the pink wetness around his father’s eyes.  I feel small because I know now that what his father was saying was all true.  The mix of love and fear in his voice hoped for any other outcome than the one he’d received.  He loved Aaron so much.  And in that one moment he was asking me to help him protect is beautiful son.



Sorry Mr. Levett.



His folks still live in that house and every time I drive by, I look to see if they’re there.  One day, I hope to have the strength to knock on their door to offer my condolences for the loss of their only son. 

Aarons Obituary


Coming of Age part 2

Coming of Age

The guys from Stand By Me all grew up.


Wil Wheaton (Gordie) had a couple of other movie roles, but is probably most known for his role in Star Trek: The Next Generation as Wesley Crusher.  Today, he does background voices for cartoons and writes quirky novels about his past.  I saw his first book at Hastings a while back and was tempted to pick it up. I didn’t.


Corey Feldman (Teddy) was hugely popular in the 80’s and early 90’s.  After the fame waned, he disappeared for a while and his drug addictions were exposed to the nation.  He tried to make a comeback, but it never took and now he’s found on reality television shows.


Jerry O’Connel (Vern) lost all the baby fat and ended up with a pretty successful career.  I saw him in Jerry McGuire, but preferred his work in the Sci-Fi series Sliders.


River Pheonix (Chris) was landing roles in huge movies, but his life ended early because of an accident that took place while he was under the influence of illegal drugs.



When I try to associate memories from high school with regret, I find it difficult because kids no nothing of regret.  Not true regret.  When you’re a kid, you do kid things- you drink and try smoking.  You pursue girls unapologetically.  You make mistakes, but you learn from them (hopefully).  The bad stuff that happens- you have to chalk up to life experience.  You live, you learn.  The really bad stuff that happens is harder to brush off.


Aaron’s dad called us out into the living room after the sounds of Aaron’s heaving woke his mom up.  The night prior, Aaron and I had been out by the creek drinking- a lot.  After making it back through his window, we passed out on the floor, but Aaron got up early and started vomiting.  It wasn’t a big deal until I heard him crying through the wall.  We found out later that the blood in the vomit came from the ulcers in his stomach.  After we got back from the clinic, Aaron’s dad sat us both down and, with his wife by his side, started his plea for us to see where this would lead.  He was talking to the both of us, but I felt like a lot of it was directed toward me.  See, Aaron had a lot of friends, but I was the only friend that was there before his vices got dangerous.  His dad’s tone told me that they saw me as a sort of “inside guy”, someone who could help look after their son- someone who truly had Aaron’s best interests in mind.  I nodded and apologized for our childishness without really understanding the depth of it.


In the following months, Aaron and I would hang out less and less.  The people that he roamed with grew more and more sketchy and while with him, I found myself consuming more and more toxic poisons.  I want to pause here to say that this lifestyle was never appealing to me and it sounds worse than it actually was only because it’s coming from me.  The whole drug scene really wasn’t my thing.  Amongst my peers it was somewhat casual, but nobody forced you if you didn’t want to.  I tasted enough to know it just wasn’t for me- you live you learn.


So with differing interests, Aaron and I drifted apart.  He called me every now and then- mostly when he wanted to let me know that he was doing better.  There was one time he called me over to take and destroy his meth pipe-  which I did promptly on the way home from his house.  I was proud of him and things were looking up.


The next memory I have about Aaron was a couple of years ago when my Mom told me they found him dead in a local hotel room.



Coming of Age part 1

A Sketch taken from an old high scool sketchbook.

A Sketch taken from an old high scool sketchbook.


I love the movie Stand By Me.

For a kid stuck in an apartment in the concrete jungle of Sacramento, California, it was like OZ.  Stand By Me used to come on HBO all the time- and even though my mom’s income didn’t pay for a lot of luxury, HBO was one of those things we could somehow justify.  If while flipping through channels, I happened to run across this flick, I had to watch the whole thing.  It means a little more to me now because of what I lived when I was in high school; I used to live just across the creek from some railroad tracks. And just like in the movie, I had a crew.


Mike “The Giant” lived in our neighborhood the longest.  His mom was the secretary at the largest elementary school in the district.  Doris- great lady.  Loved to cook.  Mike and I would camp out in his backyard and steal cheap beer from his dad’s fridge.


Aaron grew the first facial hair.  He beat us to a lot of things.  I think the first time he got caught stealing cigarettes was in the seventh grade.  He pretty much kept that course while we still were close- he was a good friend.  I know this because we hung out often even though he didn’t go to my school- he went to the alternative school with the other troublemakers.  He played tough, but he wasn’t that bad.


John hung around us because he didn’t have anywhere else to go.  He had a real bad home life.  Dad was never around and Mom never really took care of things.  I went over to his house a couple of times and was pretty uncomfortable- everyone seemed pretty accustomed to the piles of dog feces spread throughout the house.  I’m ashamed to say we picked on John quite a bit.  He was the youngest, and in adolescent groups- if that’s you, you take heat.


Ian was crazy, and if he’s still alive, he’s probably in jail.


We had a lot of memories together.  The most memorable took place along the tracks. 


I remember walking back from Ice Lake one time with Aaron when he asked me if I thought Mike was gay.  I told I didn’t know, but even if he was, he was still pretty cool.  Aaron agreed.


I remember dragging full backpacks to a familiar inlet in one of the rock formations along the tracks.  The contents of our bags? A year’s worth of homework saved for this occasion; the first day of summer was celebrated with small bonfire of collected education.  We stuck it to the man with a little help from some gasoline we found in Aaron’s garage.  Funny memory- and stupid.  I’m surprised we didn’t get hurt.  There was this other time we actually did start a brush fire, but thank God, we managed to put it out with only a couple of superficial burns.


Another time, I remember being mad at Aaron and Ian because they had spray-painted obscenities all over a rock face along one section of the tracks.  A couple of weeks later we found that someone had carved away sections of the words to create different messages- a little more G-rated.  Aaron and Ian were pissed, and even though I didn’t show it, I was secretly happy.

Those were some good times.

March 2009
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