I have been trying (and failing) to write something serious, everything I write I think would make Maddy laugh. So I’ve decided instead to share some vignettes where we laughed together. I think these highlights, in no particular order, encapsulate my experience as I knew him.
He told me recently, to my surprise, he never had Pollo Loco, which of course I had to immediately rectify. I took three large bites out of my burrito before I realized it was far spicier than any fast food burrito I have ever eaten. Maddy could not keep a straight face. He was concerned, yes, but also found my red face, beading sweat, and aggressive mouth-breathing hilarious. Both of us did. He didn’t believe it was that spicy until he took a bite of my burrito and developed the same reaction- not that he would ever diminish my spice tolerance, but he was dangerously confident in his own. He tried offering me milk but I don’t like milk, which was fortunate because he didn’t actually have milk. He also insisted I eat his second burrito, because I didn’t want to eat mine. Fitting but far too obvious words that come to mind here could be generous, kind, or lighthearted. Words more appropriate here could be vulnerable, self-assured, nurturing, or adventurous.
We both planned to call in sick to work to spend some time together mid-April, and we were giddy like teenagers before a ditch day. For how anti-capitalist and how well aware we were of PTO being our right, we were both as anxious as two workaholics could be. Texting the day before about how we just coughed near our boss or loudly complained of an oncoming migraine was our coping mechanism. We wandered in the woods for hours, no destination or goal, just being away from the city for a day when we weren’t supposed to be was enough. He let me play my music the whole drive, and either liked it or was gracious enough to pretend to. He shared two artists with me that I’d never heard of before, and I’m sure he would want me to share them with you: their names are Jedi Mind Tricks and Ana Tijoux.
Maddy came over to my house a few Halloweens ago. We all decided to carve inappropriate pumpkins, and it was hilarious. He carved out the inside of his methodically, until it was spotless, not a seed in sight. Upon completion, he was completely unable to settle on a design, and sacrificed his pumpkin to the group to make into a water pipe. It tasted like pumpkins, was impossible to pull through, and burned our throats, but it was everything we imagined. We let it sit out for too many days, as is Halloween tradition, and besides, I didn’t want to throw it away. It didn’t matter to him how temporary the product was. He was a romantic in the way that he was well aware that everything beautiful has an end, never for a second stopping him from pouring his passion into whatever task appeared in front of him.
We lost contact for a while. The first time we saw each other again, we met up at a park near his place. We walked and talked for hours, and neither of us had enough layers to be out after sunset. It didn’t matter. A stranger, who was clearly looking for someone to talk to, struck up a conversation with us. I’m introverted. Maddy kept the conversation going for at least half an hour. While I do my best to stay in the moment, I found myself getting lost in Maddy’s half of the conversation. He had a striking capacity for listening to others, showing them that he could see them. I don’t feel the need to speak to the countless amount of time, energy, and money Maddy spent caring for every member of every community he could; that much about him was apparent. What I can speak to is how deeply other people affected Maddy. He carried so many stories with him, from not just people, but books and movies and music and video games, and he would never consider one side of any story unworthy of his attention.
Maddy never took the car out of park until I was buckled, always asked how my day was before I could even process it, would subsequently become offended if I said something dismissive like “fine”, and often ordered food ahead of time for us when we had plans. Before he moved he gave me four big grocery bags full of non-perishables (he couldn’t bear to throw away food), a handful of books (we traded books on occasion), a walking stick his grandfather carved (he knew I appreciate a good stick), and some goofy costume supplies for my classroom. Maddy was benevolence incarnate. He was special to me and he was special to everyone he encountered. I’m sharing this because seeing other’s experiences of Maddy has touched me, and I’m hopeful maybe one of my anecdotes resonates with you, too.
I’ve been stuck with the phrase “I find Maddy in the woods” since it first showed up on this forum, and I think that phrase will stick with me forever. I’ll hope to keep finding him elsewhere, too, when I try a new food truck or explore a new park or enjoy a movie featuring Danny McBride or finally beat an RPG that I’ve been working on for ages.