Tuesday, March 8, 2022

So You Wanna be a Cowboy: In Memory of the Man I Knew

 The Best Man
"Because I am a cowboy and realize that regardless of obstacles and having my ideal situation that, at the end of the day, everything comes from my head and my hands, and I can translate that to anyone, anytime, anywhere"- Bryan Baker

My family moved from the city to a small town north of Orlando in the summer of 88. As I started my junior year and meeting new people I met this guy, and he and I just kind of gravitated to each other. We worked together at the Winn Dixie. We played endless hours of basket ball, tennis and pool. We got into crazy adventures and talked for hours about life. We bonded over our love of muscle cars and bands like Bon Jovi and Def Leppard. He was one of the funniest and most charming people I've ever met. I've never met anyone who could focus on a goal 110% like he could. He also taught me to see what I thought were my weakness as strengths. On top of this he was the most generous and encouraging person I've ever known. 

Jeff, Mr Thornhill, Brian

He was a romantic. I don't mean in the silly Hollywood version of the word but more in the classical sense, an emphasis on the aesthetic experience. He loved hole in the wall restaurants and the notion of cowboys. The intellectual debate and the ebb and flow of storytelling. It was the way he would build things up and timing in which he delivered. If anyone else said the same thing it might not have been funny at all but we would spend hours laughing. 

He loved pushing himself long after others given up, even when it frightened him. For all of his success, it was never about the stuff. It was working toward the goal that drove him, when he had a goal nothing would stop him. And he believed that even the most mundane of task could be raised to an artistic level of consciousness. So if it had to be repeated, why not make it beautiful in form or function. 

Me, Jeff, Noel, Loc, Brian

I owe him so much. And not just for the memories but for so many good things in my life that I might not have if he hadn't encouraged me. Music. The reason he liked Bon Jovi was the whole modern cowboy aesthetic. Wanted Dead or Alive is a song I will always associate with him but the album New Jersey was the sound track to many of our adventures. So of course when the news came of his passing I listened to that album to honor and remember. 

The track Ride Cowboy Ride is kind of a joke it's not even a song just something they started and threw in as an intro to Stick to Your Guns. But I have this memory of riding around one night in a 72 El Camino singing at the top our lungs over and over again and laughing hysterically at our own absurdity. And so this is how I choose to honor him.

As the years went by we drifted, caught up in the daily hustle of changing jobs and moving from place to place. We would check in on each other from time to time. We met for dinner in November of 2021 and I had a zoom call with him and a couple of other friends in February, with plans to talk in April and possibly get together over the summer of 2022. I'm so grateful that I got to catch up with him that those last couple of times, and I will forever be grateful for his friendship. 

Me, April Fresh, Brian

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