I met my friend Bryce Rigney when I was in 4th grade at Goethe International Charter, a German Charter School. I remember I stuck up for him in class one day when some kids were giving him trouble. Bryce was small and kids made fun of him for that. I was bigger and nobody bothered me about that, so I had his back. After that we started being friends and when we realized we basically had the same personality. We didn’t care what people thought of us and we wanted to have fun.
Bryce was fidgety in school like I was. In 5th Grade we both had stand up desks and they were in the back of the room. It was cool that we got to be ourselves and the teacher was ok with it.
Bryce and I used to write songs together when we hung out sometimes after school. Sometimes we would do this in my room. I was usually playing the guitar. We would write and sing and those nights were some of the best we had. And when we went camping at a place called Rancho Oso we sang for a group of girls and it was so cool to see their faces light up. Bryce’s voice was higher and mine lower so it always sounded like we had harmony going on. We really loved singing for anyone who would listen to us and music was a big part of our lives. It still is. And another cool part was that Bryce’s Mother was an opera singer.
Bryce and I both liked to play sports and I guess we clicked because whenever I went over to his house we’d go to his neighbor’s yard and play a game where we would pick characters that had special powers. We also played a game with his younger brother Trent. Two guys would stand on one side of the lawn facing one guy. The object of the game was for the one person to get by before the two could tackle him. We played in his neighbor’s yard because they had more room, no trees and a hill we could roll down. We loved to be rough and tumble. We loved to be physical. And we loved to laugh.
When we went into Byrce’s house to play, we liked to play Bay Blades. They were the newest thing that were “poppin’” back them. Bay Blades are small metal toys that you spin, similar to tops. You would try to knock out the other players’ Bay Blade. We put them in a little arena and we would spin them around and compete to win. We also played with nerf guns in the house and the yard. If we weren’t playing nerf guns we were playing video games. And we so loved to ride our scooters. We would ride down a big hill in his neighborhood and get a lot of speed. We also jumped off a ramp at my house on scooters. Finally, we both loved to talk about girls.
Bryce and his family planned to sail around the world once they got into Middle School. They moved away from Los Angeles to Ventura to live and work on their boat. I remember being on their boat before they left. They even let me steer the boat and it felt great to feel the boat push through the waves.
When I would visit them at Ventura Marina, we went hunting for crabs. We would throw stones at the crabs to kill them. I know it sounds kinds of violent, but it worked. We would then just crack them open and eat them, without even cooking them. We used to see one big crab at the dock sometimes. We called him, “Mr. Crab”. One time, we found a fishing pole and tried to catch him. We hoped to kill and roast him, but we never caught him.
I used to really like visiting Bryce and Trent on the boat. Sometimes we would dive off the side, which was really fun. They also used to teach me how to tie knots. Bryce and Trent were Boy Scouts and knew how to tie great knots. It’s important to know how to tie knots on a sailboat. One-time, I remember Bryce had a cool wrist-band and said if you needed rope for rock climbing or an emergency, the wrist band would open up and become 9 feet of rope.
Three years ago Bryce and the family decided to begin their sailing trip around the world. It had been their father’s dream before they were born. I still remember saying good-bye to Bryce and seeing them leave from Marina del Rey and not believing they would be gone for five years. I thought they would be gone maybe for a year.
They gave us crew shirts that say Kandu on them before they left. Kandu is the name of their sailboat. To this day they still want me to travel out into the world to meet up with them and sail back to California. Hopefully that can happen one day.
It’s been interesting to have a friend who was so important to me just sort of go away. For the first year or so I felt a sort of pain. But as time goes on, I’ve gotten more used to him being way. I still hope to see Bryce soon. I believe that wherever Bryce and Trent are, they’re having lots of fun and get to see many different cultures and ways of life and how people are living their lives.
Sometimes I wish I was on the sailboat with them, getting away from school and my troubles. But at the same time, I’m happy to be home having my life. I imagine they are sailing as I write and hope I can see my best childhood friend soon. I also hope they stay safe and that most of all Kandu is still holding up.