Friday, July 23, 2010

At a loss

I spent the summer between high school in college at my dad's place in Santa Cruz. He lived in a converted carriage house, behind a mansion on top of a hill which rolled down three blocks to the beach. It was pretty idyllic.

That summer I started dating a boy who was a similar combination of alternative, social, and desperate. We both had pretty difficult home lives and once we found each other we clung on for dear life. I spent my first year of college commuting between my dorm room in San Francisco and my dad's place in Santa Cruz, where Earl was a high school senior. The following year Earl joined me in SF, and the years of playing house began.

We spent four-and-a-half years together, with the inevitable, traumatic break-up our senior year in college. Over the years I have wondered what ever happened to Earl, and I hoped for the best. Despite the fact that he had literally no support from his own family, he was truly a smart, sweet, funny person with a ton of potential.

A while back, I decided to look Earl up on Facebook. Unsurprisingly he had started going by his middle name, Brian, but I found him a few months ago. I sent out a friend request and I waited. After a few weeks I sent a brief email, saying I'd love to hear how his life had gone, but that I understood if he'd rather not get back in touch. When I didn't get a reply, I figured he probably wasn't interested.

Today I got a reply. It was from his former sister-in-law telling me that Earl passed away 8 months ago. She was using his computer and found that he was still logged in to Facebook, so she had seen my email. Because no one discovered that Earl had died for four days, an autopsy was inconclusive. The speculation is that it was a heart attack — the same thing that killed my father three years ago.

So why am I writing this? Why am I posting about someone who hasn't played a role in my life for 20 years? I guess you could call it honoring the dead — something I seem to be doing more and more of these days (and I'm getting goddamn sick of it).

Earl Brian Neidhamer
Earl Brian Neidhamer


LeisureGuy said...

I remember Earl and I have occasionally wondered how he did. Thank you for posting this. I'm very sorry to read of his abrupt passing, but I'm pleased to see him remembered and honored.

poppaphil said...

I remember Earl from our communal vacation in the big green house. I felt wrmly toward him. We gave you guys a ride to the Philly train station. It's always good to catch up, but this is stunning news.

Keri Petersen said...

Earl... who masqueraded as your cousin, so we could have the apartment (thanks again to Steven's creativity) in San Francisco. It was difficult to explain to the landlords who lived next door why you two shared a room, and were often seen sharing intense PDA out on Clement St. Thank you for writing this to honor a formative part of your life. I too am deeply saddened to hear of his passing, it is wrong, he was too young. Earl was a sweet soul who made more out his life than what he was given.

Leslie said...

Hey there. I just read this post, I'm sorry chica. I know he's not been a part of your life for a very long time but I also know how hard it is to lose someone you were once close with. The circumstances of his death are tragic, so young and unexplained. My prayers go out to his family and friends. And of course to you. Love you, L