I met Madison almost seven (it was actually eight but I just figured out how to edit this) years ago (I always thought his full name fit him so well). In the first week of freshman orientation at Cal Poly, my roommate brought him and a bunch of other people to our tiny little dorm room in Muir. Madison was one of them, and it turned out that his roommate was in my orientation group. From then on, I saw Madison nearly every day for the entire year. At least once a day, I would walk up to his equally small triple to come and hang out with him and his roommates. For that first year at Cal Poly, I don’t think I ever went more than two or three days without seeing him aside from holiday breaks. I have so many memories of freshman year shenanigans with Madison including: staying up late and talking for hours, his blow dart set that may or may not have been allowed, him hiding poptarts in his room in random places to save for a planned joke later, going bowling at the on campus alley, him swiping a starbucks syrup to add to his foods and drinks later, and drinking maybe more than we should have with friends (it was our first year in college of course). He was always so silly and so fun to be around if you wanted a good laugh.
He was also incredibly smart and he loved to learn new things about the world. He had a stash of books in the dorms, and I remember borrowing a few of his to read. He lent me Farenheit 451 because it somehow escaped my high school required reading lists, and he insisted I try reading it. It was so good, and I am so glad that he lent it to me because, even now, I recommend the book to anyone who hasn’t read it. He was the friend I always bragged about: “I have a friend who works at Northrup and Grumman…Apple…SpaceX.” I was one of his contacts he put down for his security clearance background check when he worked at Northrup, and I remember being so scared and nervous because I didn’t want to mess up his chances of getting cleared. I was so unsure about what I was supposed to say in this interview when they asked if he had ever consumed marijuana. It turned out that he was of course truthful in his original interview and so they knew all about it and apparently it did not keep him from getting his clearance. While he was working at Apple, he was flying back and forth to China. Ever so thoughtful, he told me he brought home some tea for me and some other friends. I was apparently the first person he presented this souvenir to because when I looked at the package, it didn’t seem like tea. I could not read any Chinese, but the package looks suspiciously like some kind of snack. I opened it up, and it was indeed not tea, but an exceedingly average box of crackers or chips. He told me that his Chinese coworkers in China liked to mess with him and they kept telling him that it was tea. Madison told me afterwards that he brought home multiple boxes of this “tea” for people. I don’t know what he ended up doing with all of those boxes, but if you were the recipient of one of those boxes, I hope you got a good chuckle out of it. It was around this time that he also started eating vegetables. If you’ve known Madison a while, you know there was a time when he just did not like the taste of vegetables. He Snapchatted me a photo of a salad for lunch, and I legitimately thought he took a picture of someone else’s salad as a joke. It turns out, he was finally broadening his horizons. He was adventurous in so many other ways like meeting people and traveling to new places, but for some reason, he swung around to vegetables later in life.
As the years went on, we saw less and less of each other, but tried to hang out throughout college. It went from every day, to every week, to maybe once a month. He had many other friends as to be expected from his exuberant personality. To keep in touch, we would grab lunch every now and then to catch up on our lives. If I had a long drive, he was on the list of five or so people I would call to chat with to stay awake and break the monotony of driving on California’s I-5. We made dinner a few times together after I graduated but was still living in SLO. Eventually we were no longer in the same city and then no longer in the same state. We exchanged the “You’re not too far away; I’ll definitely come visit!” but unfortunately, life got in the way, and soon the three to five hour trip just seemed a little too far. We still maintained the occasional text and phone call, but I knew that if I ever called, he would be happy to chat. I genuinely regarded Madison as one of the friends I would be able to call out of the blue in 10 years and still be able to talk with for hours.
Words cannot describe how heartbroken I am that we have lost such a caring, confident, silly, clever, friendly, and genuine person. I could go on and on about stories I have with Madison, but it would be much too lengthy for a post like this. I hope that some of these relatively mundane stories reminded you of how Madison was just day to day and how he didn’t need grand gestures or stories to make people around him happy. Just his personality was what I remember most about him.