A friend of mine from high school died this morning. Another friend from high school died this morning. I don’t have anything to point at right now, Michelle battled cancer for the better part of ten years, but Kelsey seems to have gone quickly with no obvious cause.
I knew Kelsey in junior high and high school. As a very good friend of mine put it earlier, Kelsey gave us something to aspire to. He was a tall, gawky sonofabitch who would have been great as Ichabod Crane, but he was comfortable in his own skin at an age when most of us were lucky if we were only awkward instead of disastrous. Kelsey could ignore cliques and boundaries seemingly at will- he was a musician, a choir member, a jock, an actor, and class president. He was also an unabashed geek- I remember that he had the Rocky Horror comics… the issues with the audience shout-back lines included in the appendices.
He had an infectious sense of humor and a genuine warmth no matter to whom he talked. He was always game for some harmless fun. In ninth grade we filmed a short video for a project on Romeo and Juliet in English class. As sophomores we were in Dracula together. As juniors we coined the term “theatretically” to refer to our preferred casting of upcoming shows. As seniors I assistant directed him as Tevye in Fiddler. I also had to talk him down two nights before opening when act one ran for three hours.
In college I lost touch.
Two years ago he called me out of nowhere. He’d been through a bad breakup of a long-term relationship, and as so often happens, he was trying to get some context. My name came up somewhere and he figured “Why not?”. We chatted for an hour or so about this and that and everything. I said I’d see him the next time I was out West. He said he’d stop by if he ever made it to DC.
On the day of my wedding, he messaged me on Facebook, mostly to talk about our upcoming twenty-year reunion. When I said that I probably couldn’t afford to come, he offered to crowdsource my trip. That was the last time we spoke.
I never heard anyone say a bad word about him. I never heard him say a bad word about anyone.
I hope that he finds what he’s looking for wherever he might be. He was one of the good ones. Good-bye, Kels.