Monday, September 2, 2013

His name was Nick Halgren

So on Friday night after the pub quiz and going out for drinks for coworkers after, there was a name I couldn't get out of my head: Nick Halgren.

I don't know why I couldn't get this name out of my head, but as I was sitting at my kitchen, eating lamb and eggplant stew and mulling it over, I decided to do a google search. What the hell, right? Maybe this was someone I knew or it was the name of a character from some movie I'd watched.

This part gets a little freaky.

The only information I could get on a Nick Halgren was a 23 year old young man from Virginia who had tragically died in a car accident back in early 2012. He was known by his friends as being very into jazz music and being an all-around good guy. The funny thing is there was nothing spectacular about this person, he was just another human being, living out life until...well, he wasn't.

It was weird...that his name should suddenly pop into my head and I couldn't possibly have known him in any way. I'd not been to Virginia since I was in elementary school with my parents on a family vacation, and I don't know anyone who attended the same university as him (Indiana University). And he's several years younger than me so it's unlikely that we would have crossed paths professionally or otherwise.

So why would his name have come to me? I guess the world just does weird things sometimes.

Anyway, I'll just leave you with this last remark that I found on one of his buddy's blogs about his memories of Nick. I thought it was rather cute and made me wonder...if I were to go tragically the next day, what would my friends' posts about me be like?

Here it is:

How I Remember Nick Halgren

Somewhere between now and the last time I saw him, my friend Nick Halgren died in a car accident of which I know no detail. I don’t care to imagine it. Two weeks or so have passed since I heard the news – his number is still on my phone and will probably have a permanent home there until I get a new one and it doesn’t successfully transfer. That makes for three Nicks on my phone. I don’t think I call the other two. Nick Halgren was the Nick I knew.

The things I knew about Nick were his passion for jazz, his teaching ambitions, and the ever-increasing number of girls that he seemed to fall in love with (but actually had the guts to pursue, so there’s that). But my fondest memory of Nick by far is that he was bad at Magic. Magic: the Gathering is a trading card game in which each player takes the role of a wizard, casting spells and creatures in an attempt to overcome the opponent. Nick was nowhere near bad enough at the game that he should be considered, “bad at it,” by any means, but friends can’t help but joke.

When he made Top 8 of a large tournament only to convincingly lose his first round, he cleaned up his cards, smiled, and said he was quite “bad at Magic.” When we went out to late lunch, late dinner, or by closest definition, early breakfast, and he lost in the casual game we played with our decks while waiting for our meal, he heartily agreed that he was “bad at Magic.” When we were just listening to music on our way to or from some Magic event that was either closer to him or closer to me and far-flung from the other, he would maybe say something charmingly stupid and we would laugh and say that this was definitive proof that he was “bad at Magic.”

We spent a lot of time together, playing a silly card game. In an odd way, I find it comforting that I can look at my tournament history and locate the event where we first met (Dec. 27th, 2009). I think he did OK in that one as well.

Magic was our stress relief. Whenever we were both in the same general, geographical area, two things would undoubtedly be true: (1) that there was an upcoming tournament full of opponents that needed to be taken down a notch, and (2) one of us had something to complain about. Between the flurry of match wins and losses, we vented. Somehow, we would always land on the topic of “life – our lives, man,” and we got to know each other.

I know that his number’s still on my phone, and it is. I know that we had been friends, and we were. I know that he was bad at Magic. I know he would have laughed at that.

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