He was an easy going guy and he made friends easily. Basketball and soccer were his sports. He wasn't all that tall, but he was fast and coordinated and it was clear why the coach had recruited him. I thought he had very nice legs too :).
We used to hang out. My art class got out after dark, and Joe would often be waiting for me outside the art room to walk home with me. I remember one time, he borrowed a friend's bike so we could go for a bike ride. One of his tires popped shortly into our ride, though, so we ended up just going for a hike.
I vividly remember sitting on a ridge in the sun, looking over the little sex change town, just relaxing.
"This is really nice", he said. "We should do this again... bring food and stay up here longer".
One night after work, I met up with Joe. We went to a friend's apartment for a while. Joe seemed different. I sensed that he'd been drinking. He got a little too aggressive with me, and I decided to leave.
A few days after that, a friend and I were going up to the city where I live now for a long weekend, and Joe asked if we could give him a ride since that was his home. So we gave him a ride and dropped him off. The next time I saw him back at school, he was covered in hickies. I didn't hang out with him much after that. He stopped coming around the art room.
I graduated and left town, and didn't think much about Joe after that. Until yesterday.
The local newspaper ran a story about a local homeless man who'd recently died. The story retraced his life as a gifted athlete from a local high school with a loving family and how drugs and alcohol had changed everything.
I didn't recognize the 48-year-old man in the obituary photo, but I recognized the photos from his high school yearbook. It was Joe.
I read the long story, partly in shock, remembering the Joe I knew. How could this be the same guy? I never would have foreseen his life ending up that way.
|the Joe I remember|
Rest In Peace, Joe.