I don’t even know how to write this post. I’ll just say it. A friend died. I’m sad.
Bryan was the first person I met in Bangkok. He was working at the first guesthouse I stayed at, The Mile High Club (it was aviation themed as the owner was a former pilot). I’d gotten into town around 3am, and had to wake him up with the door buzzer so that he could let me into the guesthouse. Even at that horrible hour he was cheery and kind, helpful and approachable. He seemed like such a genuinely kind person that when he asked if I was the same person in my passport (“Really is that you? You lost weight!”), I let it go.
Over the next week or so we became fast friends, sharing dinner, drinks and talking about our own personal struggles. We were both making life transitions. Me, doing my usual “looking for truth and beauty in this world” thing, and he… well he had just moved to Bangkok from the Philippines, and was feeling out of place as a second class citizen, of sorts. He was trying to make it in Thailand as a foreigner without particularly marketable skills and without speaking the local language. Tough. Still, he had his deep faith in god, his friends, and his spirit of “sanuk” (fun, in Thai) to sustain him. He was 22, 23? Life was still an adventure to be had.
Monsoon season, waiting for our $2 USD dinner after almost being hit by a car trying to get cheap booze across the street at the local supermarket
“What is Varinthip? Is this really ‘traditional’???” I said. “No idea but we have to try it!” he said. Typical. We tried it. It was weird, but I’m glad we did.
I thought he was a nice kid, so when I came back to Bangkok for a night before heading home of course I knew I just had to stop by the guesthouse again to hang out for a few drinks. We shot the shit, played “Fire and Ice” with a trio of awesome Irish guys who had just shown up at the house, talked about our summer plans, and he gave me a friendship bracelet he had made. He had several types to choose from. He was always making friendship bracelets because he was always making new friends. I chose the “rasta” bracelet, because I’m from San Francisco, right? Free love, Bob Marley, all that. The last thing he said to me was “Next time you come back bring your boyfriend. Let’s hang out. See you later.”
We became Facebook friends, and over the last few months I smiled every time I saw him pop up in my feeds, moving around Thailand and taking new jobs, hanging out with his girlfriend, travelling, whatever.
And today I found out that he died this weekend. I’m heartbroken. From what I can piece together via his wall posts in mixed English and Tagalog, some sort of accident (car? watersports?) happened, and it seems like he was in the hospital for a few days, and he died from the trauma.
I’m honestly in shock, and I don’t know what to say. Bryan, you were a great guy. Your world view and place in life was so different from mine, but I’m happy that I met you. It seems like you made everyone around you happy. I’m really sad that I’m never going to see you again, and that you didn’t get to do the things that you wanted to in life. You were a good friend. I hope that I was a good friend to you in the short time we knew each other.