I had thought that love at first sight is silly. I didn't think it was possible. i thought that emotions like love were measured by how far you could get with the coolest highschool guy. I wasn't that shallow, just ignorant. Then my life changed. I was training for work some Saturday just before summer. I still remember the glow from the sunlight off the dirty room, ans I talked and laughed with my friends. I remember looking up from Drew's feet to the noise in the corner and that moment in my life was the more important in all of history. He sat, now so close in my heart, but so far away in the room. His head was recently shaved, his tiny blonde hairs glistened. I learned later he had shaved his mohawk just for the job and of his fondness for them. His face was shaped and structured more perfectly than I could have ever imagined. His chains, chokers and spikes added a glistening perfection to his Godly figure. His baggy, worn transformers shirt spoke his personality and hang over his sagging multi-pocketed skater pants. And then Candyce said something to make him laught. That smile could make starving children feel no pain. As his laughter reached my ears, I suddenly felt like I had melted into a pathetic puddle of love left to be stepped on.
Over time I got to know him. I fell down on the job because of my yearning to get to know him. To love him. For him to love me. For the most part, I locked my desires internally and before I knew it, the fun experiences of the summer had ended....I knew the gravity of our relationship from that first moment, though we could never explain the draw we felt to be together. Now as I type this from his chair, after hearing hundreds of memories other people shared with him, it was confirmed. His cheesy grin, those beautiful gray eyes that stole my heart, and occasionally looking into my soul with the deepest love I could have imagined, and his goofy confidence had indeed brought a whole town to light.
Our story starts that summer. The summer of 2002. Somehow, I don't remember much of him throughout that summer, but I know it took all my willpower not to follow him around like a puppy. He filled my head with his conspiracies-- ideas I hadn't heard of before. I was attracted to his brilliance, his beauty, and that fucking charm that stole everyone's hearts.
It was the end of summer that my life started in an unusual way that only Phil was able to arrange. I have a memory of standing outside the school, trading Yahoo Instant Messenger screen names. What happened next is strange, and shameful and easy to omit, but it's important to the story of Cass and Sid, or perhaps more important to my story. Assuming that as a charming 20 year old he didn't have to waste time with a stupid 14 year old, I abused the power of the internet to create a fake profile. I filled it with photos of some blonde from T-shirt Hell website. I brought her into a chat room that he frequented. (Oh the early 2000's! chatrooms, YIM...no memes, or facebook videos, just ebaums world and Kazaa). I slowly tried to steal his heart, as someone snuck in and stole mine. I ended up confessing to him first. "Dec" we called him, was the first one I confided to about my true identity. Sid's screen name was Richard Hell so we all called him Rich. the blonde girl went by "itch". This is chatting in the early 2000's. Dec told me to tell Phil, and after a few months, I worked up the courage to. I'm sure I have that conversation saved, but unsurprisingly, he was upset, and essentially told me to fuck off. Actually, he told me to come back when I was 18, which gave me a glimmer of hope toward the love I wouldn't know he shared for me until more than a decade later. From my monologue, 2002:
Phil and I grew close. We talked about and shared things that I will never and can never forget. Whether taunting others or in our own passionate fun, it was an undescribable feeling...of deceit. [I made friends with other people in our chatroom, some of whom carried me through difficult parts of my life, and I considered my angels] But in a way, Phil is my true angel. He led me to this life, he brought me to this state of self-satisfaction and unintentionally introduced me to my [other] saviors. I still try to talk to him. He exists forever in my heart and mind but it kills me to think that I haven't crossed his mind since then.
I wrote some weird angsty poems about Sid. He came to me in my dreams, often...and throughout my life. I remember one dream in which we were walking down a road under a tree and he casually reached out and held my hand. I woke up feeling so strong and connected to this stranger, not even knowing where he was or what he was doing. I thought of him as the Jenny to my Forest Gump. Throughout our relationship, I would take any opportunity, go new places and try new things, while he wandered through life just living... living his highs and lows in ways I will only get to hear about from friends and family who were with him throughout those journeys.
It wasn't much later that he came back into my life, Jenny-style. A new screen name popped up saying "ooga booga" and I immediately knew it was him. We chatted on and off for months, and then he would disappear again. When he wasn't in my life, on my screen, sharing little bits and pieces of his life at the moment, I can only imagine the characters he met, and made fall in love with him. I've met many of them in the last few days, but I can only imagine how many others there are around out there. And so the story goes on until as an 18 year old looking for collages, inspired by his existence in New Mexico and the thought of being at least a little closer to him, I flew with my folks out to Santa Fe to look at a school. We picked him up in a Dunkin Donuts and watched him get in a car to get or sell some weed in front of my parents.
But they still took him to Kelly's for a beer. I don't think I took a breath that whole afternoon, and I remember my elation in the hotel room that night as I wrote in my journal that this beautiful creature I had put on a pedestal for so many years was in fact, just a man, a human... my person.
I talked a lot about driving to visit him in NM when I was in college in Texas, but it never worked out. It wasn't supposed to. Instead, I waited 2 more years until I had transferred to New York, conveniently accessible to Pittsburgh, where he now resided. On Spring Break I bought a $30 China Town bus ticket and spent 6 hours wondering what the fuck was going to happen. I hadn't ever actually been alone with him before so having him tie me up in a dungeon was a legitimate possibility. (Sorry Mom). Instead, his roommates picked me up at the train station. He carried my bags. We went up to his room and ensued some awkward but sweet tension that had built up for years. When it was finally released, I remember laying in his cave, on the same red sheets I'm staring at now, aware of how our auras were dancing, entwined with one another as our bodies lay wrapped up below.
I visited him one other time that Spring, and he came out to NY to stay with his mom, and I spent Easter weekend with him. We went to the Sex museum, and I drank my first Red Ale next to him at a bar in Manhattan.
By May he had started to pull away, ready to ride the world wherever it was to take him. I was heartbroken and I still remember all the ways I tried to distract myself from his absence that summer. The following Spring Break I met a new man and spent the next 5 years settled with him....
Sid still came to my dreams. He still warmed my heart. He told me of a girl he met and how he was in love, and how she made him all romantic. I kept tabs through their on and off relationship as my seemingly stable one soared. He grumbled a lot in the last few months with regrets that he hadn't taken my heart when I gave it to him the summer of 2009... but we wouldn't have been ready to love each other back then. I had to learn how to be patient, to be accepting, and to love unconditionally. Perhaps he had to learn how to accept my unconditional love.
Despite a time or two of him casually dropping a "love ya" in conversation over the years, I had no idea of his feelings for me until November, 2015. He confessed that he had seen the shrine I made in a selfie I sent him...that he enlarged it and studied it. He told me that my love for him kept him carrying on in the most trying times. Among the many messages that made my heart soar was this:
" i love you and i would like to at least sometime in my life get to spend more than a few days with you"When I finally drove up to Manitou in December, and he ran down the hallway to the door to let me in, and kissed me like 6 years were just moments and we had our whole lives to be together, I had to really wonder. I wondered what the fuck kept us together over all these years. Kept us coming back to each other. We were polar opposites. We existed in each others' challenge zones. His world and behaviors were as foreign to me as mine were to him. Yet we loved. I loved his brilliance and he loved my loyalty.
We didn't get to spend much time together in this world, but everything I did had him in mind. We were always destined to be together... whether it was our souls pulling us close despite our differences, or if we carved the other person into what we needed...or a little of both.
I was aware that he was sick, but not how much. I wonder how much he knew. He was always open about his own death, and we were genuinely surprised when he turned 30, that he hadn't killed himself yet with his hard habits.
When we kissed on New Years I felt complete. The love that had lingered with so much distance between us, was now able to grow. I could feel it enveloping us. I spent half my life just waiting to be with him. Waiting for those cherished moments. A brief hug, a drunken conversation regarding the latest conspiracy. I feel lucky that I mostly knew Sid in my heart, because he will remain there forever, not much different than before, except that I'll never get an "ooga booga," or an "I love you more than you'll ever know," again. There are echos of him everywhere, especially here in Manitou. This was his community, his home in a way I don't think he ever had.
I don't know if he was "lost" but he spent most of his life on a journey he couldn't fully comprehend.. His brilliance left him bored...and angry at how un-accepting and ignorant the rest of the world was. He was the most sensitive person I had ever met. He cared so much about his people, his cats, and our fucked up world that he had to constantly distract himself from the pain. But it seems his journey left him in just the right place. He found his people-- a whole town of them. As 'Mayor of Manitou' he found his niche, in being a shoulder to cry on, a fist to a fight, or to pick your drunk ass off the streets and take you home, he was a caretaker. He gave his love to the world every day, and didn't ask for much in return-- just some pot, a drink, or mostly, some company.
We talked a lot about his mortality this year, though not too much more than every year before. We also talked of our future. We agreed against every having kids, but he loved the thought of helping me raise an adopted one. One of the days we were talking about our plans, curled up on his bed just going to sleep at 5 in the morning, he looked straight at me with those gorgeous gray eyes and asked me to Marry him. Because I had imagined being Cass Schneider since I was fourteen, I didn't hesitate. He asked me again and again over the weeks, just to be sure. I assured him that he had always had my heart, and we toyed with different states, times or ways to get married... Which community to have it in, to elope or celebrate with family.
One night in March, after he sat with me for painful tattoo session, we walked to Kelly's where we had hung with my folks 10 years before. We played darts until he went out to smoke and saw the drive by chapel. Unfortunately it was closed, but we intended to go the next day until we realized he needed his Social Security card, which was back in CO. We planned on getting married when I came back up there, but in my haste to see him, I forgot my social. We agreed to set a date that his friends could come in town for, and planned on May 24th, before retreating to our favorite water park in Texas for a honeymoon of sorts.
Our time together felt too short, but it must have been perfect. Everything about my life happened because of him. My openness with others, the honesty he taught me. Even the work I do that I give myself so fully to I found as a way to distract myself from our in-betweens. (Ironically, those habits were so strong that by the time he came back into my life I spent most of our time working in the world that I had used to run away). I don't think we could have been together any sooner. He hasn't learned how to accept love, and I hadn't learned how to love unconditionally. I believe that once he had that, and had his people, and his town...he had finally found enough bright spots to make the pain go away. I think he held on until he was sure, and then let his soul slip away.
He better fucking come back at a cat, and find me. We have a lot of snuggling to do. My life will have significantly less debauchary in it without my Sweet Sid...though his spirit will live on inside me. You never know when a random "BANGARANG" might come up. I will forever strive for his spontaneity, and his sometimes brutal honesty that made him so fucking genuine and real-- which was refreshing in this fake ass world.
As I sat down to write this, I thought I could jot down our simply story. But no one's story is simple. Each moment of his life was a memory. Every note he wrote, word he said, friend he made, and hug he gave was a piece of this world. Thousands of people were lucky enough to share those with him, and they will carry on those memories, just like I carry on my memories of our moments together. We will share our Sid stories, laugh and cry together, honor his soul and his spirit, and put together our pieces. But no one will ever know the full Sid.
His passing is a reminder to be honest, to be real, to live life and not give a fuck (I'm still working on that one). I'm so grateful to have had him in my life, to have gotten to know him "better than anyone else," and to have shared these last few months with him. Xoxo Sid
These are not flattering photos, but they are the only ones that He took of us, in a happy moment after haircuts.