For those who don't know, I have found a particularly amazing house in northwest Portland that I call home. The house was built way back when and has immeasurable character, but the true value of the house is in the people that live here.
I have never before experienced such camaraderie, such brotherhood, such fraternal bonding - it's simply been amazing! Everybody in the house does their own thing, but we tend to spend the majority of our time together. Drinking, watching movies, gossiping, sharing lessons learned, exploring local bars, advising on crazy women, telling goofball stories, etc. The five of us became super tight from the beginning, in the summer of 2011. Since then it's become like a happy, five-brother family. We call each other "Bro" and even say that we each love the other.
They were most likely drunk, or otherwise intoxicated, when they boarded the bus to the beach.
"Is this the bus to Sauvie Island?" they asked, as the bus was clearly labeled, 'Sauvie Island'.
Usually Todd would start the story, but this is the point where Shiloh inevitably took over.
"And, the bus driver looked at us, and said, 'Next bus'."
"Next bus?!" They chimed in together, laughing so much it nearly detracted from their story.
"The bus said 'Sauvie Island' but the bus driver just said 'Next bus'!"
"That's it. Next bus."
They got off the bus and walked back home. They never made it the beach that day, but they had acquired a new mantra: Next bus! For whenever things weren't in their favor; for whenever things didn't go according to plan; for whenever things needed to be adjusted: Next bus!
Todd was such a loving person - one of the most compassionate souls I've ever met. One day, he met two unfortunate souls at the bar, and brought them home because they didn't have a place to stay. They brought with them some bad heroin, and on June 14, 2012, Todd made a very stupid mistake that ended his short life on this planet at 35 years of age. Todd was a recovering addict, and had been doing so great for nearly a year in his sobriety from heroin, but was taken away from us due to an accidental overdose.
This tragedy was of epic proportions to us. We all went to Todd's funeral, we cursed him for making his final mistake, and we laughed at the multitude of fond Todd-memories that we still keep with us. Including "Next bus!" The tragedy brought us closer together. I don't think any of us had ever lost someone so close, and our solidarity formed a bond that we thought was impenetrable. But... As time went on, that proved to be not so.
He drifted further and further away from the rest of the housemates. We certainly tried to bring him back into our circle, one invite after another, but he preferred to be by himself. He came home late at night, he played music and movies at incredibly inappropriate volumes, and inappropriate times. After six months of requests, and talks to live more considerately, we ended up having to ask him to leave.
This burden somehow fell on my shoulders, and it turned Shiloh against me. I love him like a brother, and always will, but the magnitude of me asking him to find another place to live - a place away from where he and Todd spent so much time - was so great that he took it personally and held it against me.
I don't blame him. I get it. I would be pissed, too. At the beginning of April, shit hit the fan, and he yelled so hard at me - saying such nasty things to me. We didn't speak to each other for a couple weeks, but by the second half of April, we had begun to bridge the gap in our friendship. Short conversations began. He expressed his positive outlook on getting his own place - this was characteristic of Shiloh, always having a positive outlook. However, I could tell, the majority of the conversation was superficial and he was putting on a face for me. It really ate at the core of my being. My dear friend, my brother, hated me.
I prepared a whole speech for after he moved out. A speech about how I still loved him like a brother, and how he would have my eternal friendship if he decided he wanted it. I didn't dislike the guy - I loved him, and dearly wanted to remain friends - but we became incompatible housemates. I decided to wait some more time while he cooled down. I decided to wait until he had moved into his new place that he was elated to have found. I had decided to wait to express my feelings toward him until it was too late. On Monday night, April 22nd, 2013, Shiloh had a heart attack and died on his way home from work at 34 years of age.
I'll never get to tell him how much he inspired me. I'll never get to tell him how much he made me smile and laugh. I'll never get to tell him how much I loved him. I'll never get to pledge my eternal friendship despite the issues that had developed. This burns me in a way that I can't describe. It's a stinging memory I will have until I die - to not be able to let someone very close to me know how I feel about them.
I found a family in this Savier House, and it hurts so much to lose some of them so early in life. I feel like the cosmos is telling me, "Next bus" except I can't walk back home and keep drinking with my brothers. The only consolation I've found to a tragic end of two very wonderful friendships is that maybe the cosmos is also telling Todd and Shiloh, "Next bus." They both had an epic adventure with life, and just because they can't go to the beach may not mean the fun stops. I hope, with the entirety of my grieving heart, that the next bus takes them to unending laughs and good times.
My time with both Shiloh and Todd is so cherished - memories that will live as long as I do. As my own adventure continues, I will endeavor to honor these beautiful people by having a more compassionate and open heart, like Todd; and by spreading joy and fun whenever I can, like Shiloh. And, from a very, very painful lesson, I will also make a strong point of telling the people I love exactly what they mean to me.
Like grant proposals through the hands of USAID, these are the projects of my life!
Peace Corps Response 2010-2011
University for Peace! 2008-2009
Peace Corps! 2005-2007
An obligatory disclaimer: Everything I have written, has been written by me. All of my own views, expressed hereinafter, are my own views. If you needed to read this disclaimer to know these things, you're a silly goose!