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Archive for the ‘yup these are our friends’ Category

Ten minutes have passed since Richard Do walked out of our apartment for the last time in the foreseeable future. Kendall still has tears running down those rosy little cheeks.

It’s fascinating how friendship works. Those little things that you know you’ll never forget but don’t seem important until someone is gone. She just looked at me through the tears and said,

“I’m going to miss Richard.”

“I know,” I told her, trying to not let her crying get me to crying.

“Think of all the good times we had with him,” she said between high pitched ‘heep’ noises that she always makes when she cries. “He was always there grilling on Sundays…”

As her voice trailed off I couldn’t help but let my mind wander to the greater significance of the only memory she found mentionable in this emotional moment. It’s so strange the memories that we have of people who are gone to here, there or gone forever. Yet, somehow, often inexplicably, these memories tell us everything that we need to remember about this person that we need to know. As I thought of this my brain traveled to the Horseshoe, Northview High School, Evan’s Basement, Camp Kulaqua, Tallahassee, Houses all over Central Florida, and Lake Lily, these places all connected by the love others have shown me at different times in my life. Then, a brief moment of lucidity.

Why? Why would she mention the grilling?

It’s simple really. Richard Do finds many things important. His television, certain methods of cooking, hacking Wiis, disc golf, Ultimate, basketball, the Denver Broncos, Broadway Musical Theater, designated driving, everything electronic and many, many other things. However, the most important of all these, are his relationships with others.

Doodoo, as we lovingly know him, has spent his entire existence (or as much of it as I know) dedicating himself to others. Kendall recalled the perfect picture of it. A sunny, summer, Sunday afternoon at 7633 John Newcombe, as we all lounge about on the couches letting the time pass by watching a baseball game or talking about things desperately unimportant, he was in backyard. He was grilling, watching carefully until everything was just right, watching until the rest of the world manifested itself in a manner that would most please his friends.

Then he would walk in the back door and shout,

“It’s ready!”

Then he would stand grinning as we all filled our plates with meats of many kinds, a feeling of complete satisfaction washing over his face while maybe just a couple of us grunted a “thank you” out before stuffing our mouths with his latest bar-be-que rubbed chicken. He didn’t even need those couple of thanks though. Sure, they were nice, but his friends were happy. He was happy.

Tomorrow morning, one of the more selfless friends I have ever had moves away to Detroit, Michigan and it’s no secret that things won’t be the same without him. We have to continue on. The world waits for no sadness. There are still bowl games and NFL playoff games to watch, book clubs to be had, disc golf courses to be played, summer leagues to happen, grill outs to do. While the cliché is perhaps a little much to handle, there’s a certain part of me that can’t help but say that Richard will be there “grilling on Sundays…”

These memories, in a certain sense, they mean nothing but in another sense, they mean everything.

Richard Do, we will miss you. Baton Rouge will not be the same. You may think that you have been changed for good but there’s no doubt that this state has been changed for good due to your presence. They don’t make many like you and I envy your Michigan friends. They certainly don’t know what’s coming for them.

 

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There are probably a lot of people who are going to be surprised about the selection of the next focus of the “Yup, These are Our Friends” category. Not the least of which will be its focus himself.

I wouldn’t say that Paul Bowers and I are really close friends. We got to spend a lot of time together during my stay at The Daily Gamecock. While I can’t speak for what Paul’s impression of me was after to our time together, I can speak for what my impression of Paul was and is.

Before I get to that, I’d like to introduce you to Paul’s newest project. When I say newest, I mean his most recent project since wearing any and every hat at TDG (The Daily Gamecock for you uninitiated folk), interning/writing regularly over breaks for The Charleston Post and Courier and reporting for The New York Times. Yes, you read that correctly, that New York Times.

That project is this site: Homeless in Columbia. I’ll direct you to his introduction post and the “About” section of the site to get the idea of the site in the author’s words. In my own words, Paul is going to live as a homeless person in Columbia for a single week. Abandoning everything and taking nothing, he is hitting the streets in an effort to truly walk a mile in his neighbor’s shoes and he is going to take all of us along for the ride.

This is an admirable effort from an admirable person to do some real journalism in the age of hyperbole and shameful excuses for the written word.

However, considering what I know of Paul, I shouldn’t be all that surprised. Paul is a lot of what I look(ed) like in some of my daydreams of being a real writer. Since day one of meeting Paul, he has stuck to his guns on every piece of debate that I have seen arisen around him.

In my mind, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Paul picks a side and stays on it, that means that Paul envisions his goal and he sides with whatever side is going to be most likely to get him, and the world at large, closer to his goal. So, the next important question is: What is Paul’s goal?

I think it can be simply summed up as this (I leave him to correct me if I’m wrong): To see the Gospel of Jesus Christ further spread to its greatest potential and to increase the amount of love that each person encounters throughout his or her lifetime. While that may sound rather grandiose and obscure, I truly believe that Paul is the type of person who is accomplishing his goal one person at a time.

I’ve often thought that if, when I die, one person says, “I’m a happier person today because Michael Aguilar lived.” Then I’ll have accomplished my life goal to a certain extent. I don’t believe that it is the scale on which you help people, though large scale help is nice and means plenty. Rather, it is the quality that you help each individual person that truly matters.

Whereas I, often times, only postulate and pontificate on that idea, Paul is living that idea out and I believe that you’ll see that if you follow along with his blog and the rest of his writing career.

He is the type of person that we need in the journalism world. Media, in its many forms, is the most powerful way to communicate ideas that man currently has. There is no one that I personally know that I trust more with that power than Paul Bowers. Follow his blog with me, we may just learn a thing or two.

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I’ve concluded that I will not be able to maintain this site without establishing some kind of direction. I’d love to live under the illusion that our life is so exciting that I will keep you riveted with tales of bowl games, mud pits and fancy restaurants but I’d be lying to myself and to you.

The fact of the matter, and I don’t believe that Kendall will argue with this, is that half of what makes the two of us interesting at all, is the company that we keep. We have both been blessed at all stops in life with friends and family that are loving, exciting and genuine. So, I’ve decided to establish a couple of reoccurring themes and post topics, the first being one that will document these special people: Yup, These are Our Friends.

Bill Simmons ends every mailbag with an extraordinary letter from a reader and answers the letter by simply saying, “Yup, these are my readers.” As if to, in one fell swoop, show that there are no limits to what his readers will do or say. It may be hilarious, it may be sad, it may be strange, it may be heartfelt but the one thing you can say is that Bill is no longer surprised by much of anything.

That’s the way that I feel about our friends. There’s not much that can be generated from our friends that will surprise me any longer. For I have seen them conquer the highest heights and dip to the lowest lows. So, welcome to my world.

(more…)

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