He always chooses the beach over the pool.

You ask him if he wants to hit up the Jacuzzi, he will ridicule us. Instead, he convinces us to go to a natural hot spring. Two hours later we find ourselves hiking with the sun strapped on our backs. As much as we complained, we sure as hell appreciated that hot spring; none of us had experienced that before. He always get us out of our comfort zone, our box, our self-imposed prison.

We go to cultural events we didn’t know existed, we eat foods from different ethnicities that we didn’t know our tongues could experience. Shit, he even shows us music so different from what we grew up with — he was an interesting fuck.

Until he came into our lives, we only knew one way of living.

He chooses the fire over the heater. He submerges himself into a vat of ice before using the AC.

How else can you explain Julian?  Can’t describe the guy, he is just one of those strange, yet authentic people you only meet once in your life.  The man just wants to experience life in all its rawness. It’s as if he had tasted death in his past life and knew he never wanted to go there again.

He is not just living, but alive doing it, not like the rest of us. He is an experience junkie, we are work monkeys, high on money and junkies for ‘things’.

Julian inspires us. We never admit that to him though. If anything, we do the opposite and give him so much shit for being ‘different.’ But that’s how the boys show love, we toss insults at one another and put the ‘macho’ veil on to hide our vulnerability, unless we are drunk of course. But not Julian.

He tries to encourage us to take off the veil. Julian is not afraid of tears, he isn’t afraid to say he misses his girl in front of us. We all have those same feelings, we love cuddling our girls, and we just can’t show that to anyone. He does, and damn, does he make vulnerability look appealing. All the women love that about him, the bastard. We can’t hide our jealousy that well.

No matter how many ‘you’re gay’ slights you throw at him, he accepts it. ‘Call me gay all you want, it’s a compliment, gays dress well, are in good shape, and they know how to party’. If we call him, ‘pussy’ he says, ‘thank you, that is the strongest part of a woman, it can handle birth and take relentless pounding from phallus shaped objects, yeah, I’ll be a pussy.’ This is the stuff that comes out of his mouth, man. It is hard to get a reaction out of him. He is so damn witty and secure with himself, fuck him.

We win a few battles against him, in all fairness.  A few of us have that ability to get him riled up and into a stern rant or debate — very facially expressive and passionate, which makes people think he is not ‘calm’. But they don’t know him like I know him. He is always calm inside his mind. Forget what he does with his eyes and hands, he knows where his compass point is. In order to escape from debate, people revert to ‘calm down’ or categorize him in some subgroup to minimize his argument. He loves that verbal attack, it is so common for him, and his comeback is as quick as a reflex. He keeps the conversation on the facts. He challenges their assertions and evidence until they are backed into a wall of subjectivity, which is held upright by a weak foundation. Eventually they fall through.

I am not sure if I need to even say anything more about him. We could all sit here in silence and reflect on what role Julian plays in our lives and all know exactly how we all feel about him. You know we don’t need words to describe him because he is always unapologetically himself. How many people can truly be themselves authentically? Yet, he makes it look easy.

Picture a world map. On this map is one string that connects thumbtacks from all around the world together. Without the string, the thumbtacks would not link with one another. A life without this string is distant and separated. Julian is that string.

Complimenting him is hard and I could never say this to his face, a regret I will die with. I am only able to write these words down now that I just saw Julian’s physical matter scattered by his favorite surfing spot.

Julian would choose life over death. Unfortunately, he didn’t have that choice this time.

It is unlikely ‘the boys’ will all stay in contact now that he is gone. But he will live on in all of us. To honor his life and now his voyage to death, let’s try to live as he did. Let’s be as free as possible.

Hear his voice in your ears, ‘do you’, ‘who cares what they think of you’, ‘don’t let them block your shine.’ We can longer let our lives go to waste.

I know everyone here told him your secrets, hopes, dreams. Well, he took our secrets with him, but he left us our hopes and dreams. So let’s focus our energies on that. We can’t keep calling it a ‘pipe dream’ anymore. As he said, “don’t let the ‘what ifs’ kill you”. Because we know that’s not what killed him, but it will kill us slowly and surely.

Knowing Julian, he is experiencing death to its fullest as he did with his life. Honor his death by living now and helping extend the lives of others.

I would say ‘rest in peace’ but I know you aren’t resting right now, you’re out there looking for more experiences to amass and spread to others.

5 thoughts on “Thumbtacks & String

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