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sean neill

when i worked with the drumline and band at Washington Township High School in new Jersey, there was this one kid who played snare named Sean Neill. He also ended up marching in Surf for a year.

Sean had a baby face and a look that made all of the girls crazy, and he knew it. He was a smart kid, and he knew that too. He knew how to smile and nod at the authority figures even as he was laughing behind their back if he didn't respect them. As a result, he felt like he had the upper hand when it came to authority and structure in general, and had a tendency to run in with the wrong sort of crowd. I mean, kids can be kids, but some of the stories he told me and that i heard about made me uneasy at the time, and probably still would even given my more realistic and relaxed perspective about that stuff.

That side of him, the street and cocky young male side was only one piece of the picture, the other piece being surprisingly naive and genuine and sincere about the people and the things he cared about. What i remember the most about him was how passionate he was about drumming, and how in the right environment and with the right people, he was passionate about people and about life. And with me, he showed that softer side, not only to me, but to the people around him because that was the sort of environment i fostered. I was the conduit that bridged the conflicts between staff and students, clashing personalities, all of that, and i helped people see a side of him and hopefully helped himself see a side of him and a path that was healthy for him and could keep him out of trouble.

When i moved from new jersey to oregon, he was the one kid i was worried about the most for leaving behind. I felt like without me there to be at least some sort of guiding presence, it'd be too tempting for him to continue down an unhealthy emotional path and life path that would eventually bite him in the ass. A few years ago when Devon and i were talking, Devon kind of confirmed this, that Sean wasn't a person who he felt comfortable having in his life anymore, that he got into some pretty fucked up shit.

The truth of that/extent of that isn't something i delved into and i didn't think about too much after until one day fairly recently he found me on facebook and added me as a friend. And the history of the person that he was and who he could have been and who he could be now flooded into me. It was a strange experience; i looked through some of his facebook pictures and said to myself, "i don't know who you are now."

and now i never will.

The memory of that kid that i will always hold is that of his potential, that of his sincerity, the side of him that could find joy in the same things that i found joy in, the side of him that would look at me and try his hardest to make me proud because he saw me as an important guiding force in his life. i know how much i've changed and how much stays the same in my own personality over a decade or more to know that despite what sort of direction his life could have taken that that part *must* have still been there somewhere, and i'll keep that part of his image with me for the rest of my life, and hopefully others will too.

that said, if i had any ability to talk to him right now, i'd kick his leg and tell him that he's a fucking dumbass.

sean, you're a fucking dumbass. but i still love you. fucker. go be at peace or something.

god damn.

Comments

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varpulis
Nov. 17th, 2009 01:27 am (UTC)
i was struck most by how he simultaneously looked both exactly the same and totally different.

on another note, i feel like i have never lived up to my full potential, no matter what i have accomplished. a lot of this is down to being a massive procrastinator. i have kind of hated that about myself for ages and i really need to change it.
lifeofmendel
Nov. 17th, 2009 06:03 am (UTC)
yeah, i agree. exactly the same, yet totally different.

i'm a massive procrastinator too, and feel the same way that i've never lived up to my full potential. But i don't feel *terribly* bad about it because i've still had contexts in which i excel and cause other people to excel, so the fact that i've been a slacker has only caused my path to be different but not be less, if that makes sense.
varpulis
Nov. 17th, 2009 10:25 am (UTC)
i suppose looking at it that way, i don't feel terribly bad about it either.
hellomrhieu
Nov. 17th, 2009 03:02 am (UTC)
You left me...

♦♦Bawl♦♦
lifeofmendel
Nov. 17th, 2009 06:04 am (UTC)
say what now?
kitsuneracer
Nov. 17th, 2009 04:18 am (UTC)
Its interesting that you post this today... I'm sitting in the ICU right now at Sacred Heart because my cousin decided that he didn't want to deal with his issues anymore and just swallowed a few bottles of prescription meds... right in front of me.
suerocks
Nov. 17th, 2009 02:22 pm (UTC)
Wow, how sad. I remember how adorable he was as a freshman and a sophomore in drumline, always had that little gleam in his eye of getting into trouble. But when you're that young it's cute. His parents were some of the sweetest people and very involved. I feel terrible for him and his family, whatever may have happened.
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