Thank You For Being a Friend [NaBloPoMo 7]

Thursday, August 6, 2015 / 9:34 PM

Hey dude. This feels weird writing something long to you because we were always rapid-fire texters/Gchatters/emailers/etc-ers. But I'm gonna try right now because I've got a lot in my heart and on my mind. I know I won't be able to get it all out, and there's a lot I'll probably forget, but it's not like this is the last time I'll ever get the chance to say something to you. I know we'll hang out again someday.

2010 New U banquet. You and Mengfei taught me how to class it up.

I really fucking miss you. Like, even right after graduation, I was missing you the second I left Orange County. I remember meeting you back in 2010 when I was still a Layout slave and you were a newly-hired Opinion slave, and you used to sit at the corner computer and not really talk to many of us because--let's face it--we were all pretty annoying. We were kids. You wanted to GSD and then go back home to your really cool wife and cats. I'm sure the last thing you wanted to do was sit next to a broken lava lamp writing headlines into InDesign while the rest of us whined about...anything.

But I'm really glad we started getting coffee during production day breaks. When I got thrown into being Managing Editor unexpectedly, you were there to talk me through it, even though we were still just becoming friends. I don't even remember when we went from being coworkers to friends because it seems so natural that you were always there to talk to. Remember meeting up with Mengfei and me at the LA Times Festival of Books? After that, it was like the four of us--Mengfei, Dave, you, me--were inseparable. When I think back to the end of my junior year, all I can remember are the food adventures (and lying to Dave about what time we were all meeting because he was always late), the drives to LA (and being stuck in traffic) and overcaffeinating between classes (remember how quick we were to try trenta-sized iced coffees??).

I always looked up to you (and not just literally [insert classic joke about my height here]). You always had this calm, relaxed attitude, even when shit got tough. I remember sitting down with the staff and revealing something big, and before I said anything, I made eye contact with you and felt reassured. The way you approached that kind of stuff reminds me that all the times I sweated the little stuff, I didn't need to have those blow ups. That's something I really try to remember these days when tempers flare and people get mad. It's all water off a duck's back, right? DGAF the little things and focus on what really matters.

You were smart and confident and funny (even when you were teasing us or insulting Greg lol, it was never mean-spirited), and you used to always give me advice about whatever was on the tip of my tongue: stress about school, friend drama, boy problems, work anxiety. Once we were driving to get tacos at that bouge place at The Camp and I started crying about something really silly, and you handed me a tissue, turned up the music in the car, and said, "You're way too busy and important to be crying right now." Which made me laugh a lot and I feel like if you could say anything to me right now, it'd be that. (Except this time, I'm not crying over something silly at all.)

I have this clear picture in my mind of places we walked and sat and talked. Like how you used to pick me up every Sunday morning senior year before production and we'd go to Kean before heading to the newsroom. I can still point out the table at Starbucks we were sitting at when you told me you'd be a dad for the first time, and I remember the way you sauntered over to me the night of my 22nd birthday, took your In-N-Out hat off and placed it nonchalantly on my head, and then walked back to the register. I was drunk and had dragged everyone to In-N-Out at midnight, and excitedly ordered animal style fries. The next day, you messaged me that I should always be that drunk because I was SO HAPPY to get food and even clapped and said "YAY!" after you gave me your hat. According to my Gchat log, your final description: "You were CRUNK, dude." Whenever I come across that blurry photo of me wearing that hat, I immediately smile. I can't help it.

I was looking back at our other emails and messages, and the texts that iCloud had backed up and dumped on my phone last year. You used to text me when Starbucks red cups came out, and I still have the text where you told me you'd be a dad for the second time. The last text I sent you was a heart emoji.

The majority of the photos we have together, I realize, are from New U banquets, or they're candid shots Monica took of all of us when we weren't looking. I remember I used to try to take photos of everything because I was afraid one day I'd forget it all. But when I asked you once, before graduation around the time of all our sappy farewell columns, why we didn't have more photos together, you said (somewhat sarcastically), "Dude, we're busy being awesome."

It's so surreal that you're gone. I still don't know how to entirely process it. There's so much I still want to say to you, so much I still want to ask you, so much I want to know. There are so many stories and photos I didn't get to share here that I wish the world knew about. But I'm being selfish, and this shouldn't be about me.

I just wanted to say, if you're reading this on your downtime up there...thank you. Thank you for being you. Thank you for sharing your time. Thank you for the example you set and the life you led. Thank you for living with joy and teaching so many of us what that looks like. Thank you for rooting for me even when I pretended I didn't need the support, for giving me the tough life talks when I needed it, and for loving me when I didn't love myself.

Until we meet again,

PS - How mad is Keith Richards calling Sgt. Pepper's "rubbish" making you right now?? You're the first person I thought of when I saw this headline.

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  1. Your post made me remember something small but relative: Charles and the saga of the KFC Double Down sandwich. It was a characteristic New U story: something small and silly that became legendary in the newsroom purely because of his enthusiasm for something that could only be invented in 'Meruca. His Features testimony was epic and so Charles Hicksian. I will miss him and his wit.

    As he said in that article, "Whether it be a new president, a move to a new city, or the struggle to embrace advancements in sandwich technology, all of us have a hard time with drastic changes." My heart goes out to you, Traci. That was a very moving post and I hope, too, that he is reading your post (in between bites of his Double Dee and plays of the Batroll video).

  2. This was beautiful. I'm happy we all still have such good memories of Charles and each other.