Saturday, October 28, 2006

Vinsent Barragan R.I.P.

My old friend Vinsent (known here as the Laird) died October 23rd. His pickup hit the back of a big-rig on the way to Vegas and he died on impact. He was 32.

I knew Vinse since we were juniors at Notre Dame high school in 1990. I don't really remember meeting Vinse, because at the time I started hanging around the gaming nerds I didn't realize we'd be tight for another 16 years. Looking back it doesn't seem that he changed all that much; he was a very mature guy at 17.

Vinse was a bold guy. As a security guard he had cause to shoot out the engine block of a pickup with a pistol--from the front. He would run field-work programs with 60 violent juvenile offenders single-handed--and The Bear did not get any trouble. He loved telling "war stories" about how he compelled obedience in the Hall and we were a willing audience.

Looking back I am glad I could help Vinse learn to live on his own, which is one of the very few things in life I did before Barragan. He lived with his mother and sister providing in-home care until he was 29. He was very devoted to both of his parents even after we moved out into our own suite, and later, his own condo. He was very proud to actually own a home, although learning to live with mortgage payments wore him out.

Now the condo looks like a furniture warehouse. I'm bagging and boxing my things and coordinating the move back to my folks over the next couple of weeks. And it hits me, that although I spent most of my time under that roof without Vinse actually there, it is near unbearable now that he's permanently gone. He won't come through the door and ask me to come with him as he shops. I never got that, being invited to go buy Dickies, but I understand now. When you commit as we both did, to being responsible for dozens of people as they sleep, you just don't get to go to the afternoon barbecue or watch the game at the bar. You have to pass on the weekend trip, because your day off comes midweek. Vinse could bitch to me about that, because I was in the same boat. Now all my close friends are in the 9-5 and I'm out of the loop.

I've been stoic around his mother and his girlfriend and the Notre Dame mafia coming in from all over the state. It's now that I'm back in the daily rut that it starts to really hurt.

We'll bury Vinse this Tuesday. Afterwards it's on us to keep in touch, keep meeting each other, plan the jaunt to Dodger Stadium, haul ourselves around the Inland Empire. After 16 years, the coordinator has stopped making pickup.

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