Do not let these questions strain or trouble you just point youself in the direction of your dreams find your strength in the sound and make your transition.
I’ve been thinking about my friend Casey Cosker a lot for the past few days, and it occurred to me that he was the very first person I met from Pratt’s writing program. It was accepted students day a few months before we’d actually move to Brooklyn, but Casey said hello to me in the bathroom before we both headed back to Connecticut. We’d just heard the director of our program give an absolutely pants-shitting overview of the program (not to mention an endless summer reading list, because we were told we were completely uneducated). Casey said he was looking forward to the challenge and left the bathroom.
When classes actually started, it became apparent that Casey and I were diametric opposites. He was a frustrating writer, one with some solid ideas about sci-fi and fantasy that would often give up on something halfway through and have his characters killed off by zombies (this happened repeatedly in his workshop stories, I swear). On the other hand, I was an extremely uptight kid attempting to write literary fiction, the sort that tried to make the most out of the program with each passing year. We’d have a drink together at a party, but that was as far as our friendship went in college.
All of this changed, though, the day that we handed in our senior theses. Writing programs and workshops can be vicious, unkind places, but a sort of veil is lifted the minute it’s over, and the people you disliked eventually become your friends. It’s a bit like surviving a war. The night we’d finished a year’s work, our class got unbelievably drunk at our professor’s apartment in Morningside Heights. After some shots of absinthe at dawn, we left the house with a few fellow students. We were having a great time, and Casey asked me for a piggy back ride, which ended with both of us crashing to the ground and my shoulder getting a giant gash. We wandered downtown to a diner and had breakfast together with another good friend, one Casey would call his wife several years later.
We began to drink together a fair amount from there, at least when Casey was in town. With very little idea of what to do after college, he drove across the country and left New York for what felt like a year. When he returned to a crappy editorial job for a Jewish newspaper, we hit the bars together in earnest and got drunk watching as many action flicks as humanly possible. Our St. Patrick’s day celebrations were some of the favorites I ever experienced. In between all of this, Casey joined and left the Navy. The last two times I saw Casey felt very representative of our friendship: we brought a bottle of whiskey to see Pacific Rim together, and then a week later we drank past close at a dive bar in Prospect Heights. The photo above came from the latter night. It was the last time I’d ever see him.
Despite his darkness, weirdness, and goofiness, Casey had a good heart. Everyone seemed to recognize this, I think, except for him. He’s the third person I’ve lost in roughly six months, and the only one to leave this Earth by choice. My birthday was about a month ago, and it made me think about the people I love that have left New York, and the fact that I rarely see the ones that remain in the city. It doesn’t matter where you are in this world, though. If you are my friend, you make my life feel worthwhile. Don’t leave this world until you have to, I beg you. I’ll miss you, Casey, and I’m sure as hell going to raise my flask at the screen when I see Days of Future Past in your honor.
“One thing in our favor: some of this “becoming kinder” happens naturally, with age. It might be a simple matter of attrition: as we get older, we come to see how useless it is to be selfish — how illogical, really. We come to love other people and are thereby counter-instructed in our own centrality. We get our butts kicked by real life, and people come to our defense, and help us, and we learn that we’re not separate, and don’t want to be. We see people near and dear to us dropping away, and are gradually convinced that maybe we too will drop away (someday, a long time from now). Most people, as they age, become less selfish and more loving. I think this is true. The great Syracuse poet, Hayden Carruth, said, in a poem written near the end of his life, that he was “mostly Love, now.”” - George Saunders