On Sunday, I got a call from my friend Aaron in Portland. We talk every few weeks, and I figured he wanted to chat about the fires or the protests. No, the tone of his voice was shaky and sad: our friend, Chris, had died.
According to him, there was an accident, and the details were sparse. I did some searching and found out exactly what happened: Chris was outside the restaurant he manages, and a drunk driver ran a stop sign and an oncoming truck t-boned the vehicle. The car flipped to its side and pinned Chris to a building. The driver was a fucking 18-year-old, driving with his friends, with blood-alcohol level of 0.12%. The friends ran from the accident, till one of them came forward as a witness.
My friend was killed by a reckless fucking child — as a pedestrian, a person just doing his work.
When Aaron told me of the news, I was in shock; I couldn’t process it and wandered around my apartment in a state of numbness. It was a day later that I felt the sadness and anger of losing a friend. To hear of him so callously taken away was devastating. Chris was a victim of shitty decisions and utter disregard, and in this current social climate, I am infuriated by the lack of caution of everyone.
Chris and I met my sophomore year of college. He was Aaron’s roommate, and since neither of us really partied or drank at the time, we became very close — just mocking the sheer stupidity of college stereotypes. I remember going to their dorm to escape my shitty roommate, where Chris introduced me to Homestar Runner (we’d watch and imitate “Teen Girl Squad” a lot). We had common musical tastes, and I recall the nights where we’d just listen to Third Eye Blind, Something Corporate, and Weezer. I remember the nights where the three of us would just hang around, play that handheld game 20Q, and watch Super Troopers or a David Lynch flick (the Dumpster Lady of Mulholland Drive still freaks me out). I remember the night Chris, our friend Dave, and I walked around the empty quad at night and came back to his dorm to tease a very high Aaron.
Chris was a great guy, and the last time I spoke to him was my birthday (the last time I saw him in person was when I visited Portland in 2015). We drifted apart a little, but he was in no means out of my life — even after I transferred to U of I the following year, we remained friends. In fact, he was the very inspiration for “Chris,” the main character of my college comic Sausage-Fest/Ghost Potato. Like me, Chris was a hopeless romantic, slightly insecure, but so damn hopeful for the future.
He was a contributor to my old blog, Bluegoomba. After I received the news of his passing, I scoured the archives for photos of him (Chris and I were great friends long before Facebook or Flickr, and sadly a good number of these photos are probably lost). I stumbled across a post he wrote (under his AIM Screen Name “IcemanChomp” — Top Gun was one of his favorite movies), and found this excerpt from May 2003:
The only thing worth your concentration is the future. Learn from the past, but don’t dwell on it, because you will miss everything coming at you with your head turned around like that. As far as the present is concerned, it’s over as soon as you think about it, so just react. However, don’t make big plans too far in the future, because they will get screwed up. I guess I am saying, don’t have a plan for life unless you have a million back-up plans, cuz dreams don’t come true, because they are just dreams, duh. (Man, I am evil…)
You were such a good friend, Chris Copeland. I’ll miss you so fucking much.