I ended on a Jisei that I thought my friend would like. His words and mannerisms are sort of laced throughout, to be honest :’D
He died aged 30 last year. His room reflected the suddenness of his passing; plans he had were scrawled on his mirror in his purposefully illegible handwriting.
Laid out over an entire wall were A4 printed sheets for every month of the year to come.
Pinned to his board were magazine cut outs of successful people who had sickle cell disease.
His muji desk was littered with sketchbooks, notebooks.
And above his desk were flyers from events, most of them I recognised – the Tedex talk we went to at the Hippodrome, an Afrofutures conference, a Shebeens experience designed as a mother-ship. An art gallery, a comic con, Swingamajig festival, swing dancing class, kendo and a card from Modu – the best Korean restaurant in Birmingham, that he had introduced me to.
There’s too much about him to express in a single blog post, and besides which I would never be able to do him justice.
But I want you to know that he had a way about him that would let you feel safe & comfortable. You could open up to him and he’d listen, without judgement.
He wanted to learn and experience everything he could. I think maybe he saw people as a window to that, because he was fearless approaching anyone.
Bodyguard giving him evils at the door? He bonded with him over Kendo.
Barefooted guy a comic shop that I wanted to avoid (in case he was crazy)? After a conversation with the guy, Ken left with a new perspective without his shoes on. Just to try it out.
He wanted to get to know you. He was open to you.
And he was so cool :’D. And kind. Like, incredibly giving, and so generous with what he had.
He was annoying late for most things, but he always there for everything.
He was a really, really fucking good friend.
He was also a philosopher, optimist, artist – and I wanted to write a story that paid homage to that character.
Because seriously, what happens to all that beauty? That potential? That love?
We make up stories like heaven and reincarnation, of angels and ghosts, but none of us truly KNOW.
Ken had been close to death before, so in his story we are all going back to the source, that we’re all made of the same stuff (which, given, is scientifically true…).
But I can’t ever know about any of that.
What I can do, is evolve what I experienced with him into something.
When I need to be brave in a particular way, for example, I summon my inner Ken :’D
And, in my grief, I entertained the idea of my own private story. Of an alternative world, where he was cured of sickle cell and was travelling the world as an artist and teacher.
So that was the world I showed a little of in this short. I thought of a scenario where we could meet again.
It’s not Ken, exactly. I couldn’t speak for him, nor could I ever accurately guess what he would say – he was a real person, too surprising and layered for me to write with any reliability. So I created a character modelled after him, from an alternative universe.
How could we meet in this AU? A wormhole. Not on our side with our limited technology, but something from his world. Perhaps by accident.
So, that’s the story behind this piece. I’ve allowed myself to articulate a wish I have – the possibility, however tiny, but still scientifically possible, that the people I love are still somewhere, gone only in the sense that I won’t feel their presence ever again. But still being awesome. Spatially displaced in a multiverse with infinite possibilities.
Loss is brutal and annoying, but also SO inevitable that we might as well take what we can from the experience and let it be a story. In this case, a comforting one.
If you feel like sharing, let me know your take in the comments below.
My rational brain doesn’t allow me talk to physical nonentities without feeling hopeless, but I know I’m not alone doing this – and I’m feeling a bit raw right now and I just want to say that, Ken, I frickin’ love you and miss you like holy hell. Thank you for everything you brought into this life 😀 xx