I met Kevin during Freshmen college orientation; we were doing community service, painting a local elementary school stairwell, and we fell into a discussion on science-fiction books and other assorted geeky topics. Which was interesting to me, because Kevin was not a geeky guy.
It wasn't until Junior year that I met up with him again at a battle of the bands event. He found out that I'd never experienced college drinking, and promptly arranged for me to buy a half-empty bottle of Bacardi. Six shots later, I was staring at the stars outside a townhouse, completely blitzed.
Kevin introduced me to his circle of friends and I began my education in real social interaction. Through him, I learned how to behave in small groups of people; I couldn't sit in the corner and read my book all the time. If I wanted to be a part of the group, I had speak up, make interesting comments, be amusing and occasionally entertaining.
Kevin was the coolest guy I have ever met. At college, he started an underground literary magazine. He had a tumultuous relationship with a girl that involved 3am screaming matches in the dorm's foyer (culminating with the decapitation of Kevin's right baby toe one night when she smalled the door on his bare foot). He sang lead in a rockabilly blues band. He was cool, and for a year I hung out with him almost every night.
By my last semester in college, I had my own room in the dorms and was spending time with NE. But I still made my way to his townhouse every week to watch X-files with Kevin and his crew, and on the weekends to party.
After college, he went on to film school and our contact was reduced to the occasional IM or phone call. He graduated film school and headed to California.
There is more to the story – I met up with him while attending a recent conference in Anaheim – but I'm going to keep the details to myself. There was one point, though, when he turned to me and asked, "What is the secret?"
"To what?" I really wasn't sure what he meant.
"Life. You seem to have it all figured out. You're happy. You know who you are. Know where you're going."
"I don't. I'm…happy-ish. I like myself, I've got good friends, and a well-defined sense of what I want from life. But there's no secret. And if there is, it's something simple, like, accepting yourself and your desires and finding a way to live life in such a way that you don't deny them."
I don't know uf he believed me. But it was the truth. And I had to wonder – if the coolest guy I've ever met is looking to me for the answers to happiness, does that mean that being cool precludes being happy?
I don't think so – but then, I don't think it made life any easier for him.