In memory - Alan Johnson

1258965099|%B %e, %Y at %I:%M %p
Tags loss the-past

Tomorrow is the funeral of one of my best friends. I'm a little bummed I'm not making it. He died in his sleep of ongoing heart problems.

The good

We got to know each other in junior high. I honestly don't remember how we first met, but our parents had known each other already, our fathers went to school together, and both play guitar.

We were a pretty unlikely combo, on the surface. I was the straight-laced, socially awkward walflower, he was known as "Metalica Man." Long hair, heavy metal attitude and appearance. But neither of us put much stock in the superficial, and found plenty of common ground. He was a geek at heart, when he was younger he was obsessed with dinosaurs, and wanted to be a palentologist. He was a loyal friend, and beneath his troubled exterior good at heart.

We spent an inordinate ammount of time playing Super Nintendo. We'd mow my Grandmother's yard for money, then go to 7-11 and blow it all on fighting games. I stayed over at his house a lot, mostly because his parents were the coolest about having people over. Eventually they became my second family. His house was where Alan, his sister Helen, and our mutual friend Jake spent most of our free time. We all had other friends, but I think the four of us were each others closest friends. Helen and Jake are married now. I envy that, but my gay issues are another post. When I think back to those years, most of my good memories are of the time the four of us spent together.

The bad

I considered leaving this part out, but I hate it when people try to make things seem different than they were after a tragedy like this. As time went on, Alan and I went in very different directions. I latched onto straight edge idealism. Self denial was how I operated. I honestly believed that made me a good person. My convictions were a convenient way to delay dealing with the conflict between who I am and my conservative parents. Alan became increasingly hedonistic. Which led him to Alcoholism and a failed marriage. I was by his side through all of it. I can remember writing him a letter warning him of the problems in his marriage before it was over, and never giving it to him. I don't know if it would have done any good. We were already drifting apart at this point, we were becoming very different people.

A few years after the divorce, Alan needed a place to stay. He was working in the oil fields, and I let him move in with me and share the rent. It wasn't long before he started binge drinking at home, and I'd come home to 20-30 beer bottles with a little beer and cigarette butts left in them all over the livingroom. Then he started having trouble getting rides to work and stopped going.

Things got really bad, my other roommate lost his job and so did I. I was the only one taking temp jobs and out looking for work. I bent over backwards to make sure Alan and Lonnie had the oportunity to get their shit together because that's who I am, but I could only let that go on for so long before I felt used, and found my way out in Helen and Jake (living with them didn't work out either, I was completely emotionally withdrawn at this point, Helen was pregnant, and communication broke down).

After all of this, Alan and my younger sister got together. I could see he was repeating the same pattern that happened with Amy, and was not happy with it. But it was my sister, he was still basically family to me, and so was his son. So I hoped things would be okay, and was even happy when they had a kid together. But after they split up I didn't stay in contact with him, and decided that was for the best.


Alan's death has me thinking about a complicated past I've tried to move beyond. I let my life get almost completely derailed for him. But I don't regret it, I'd still bend over backwards if I think a friend needs it. I do regret the way things ended up, and I still wish for the kind of friendship we had, back in the day.


Add a New Comment

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License