We had started at one in the afternoon. My bloodshot eyes registered that it had just passed three in the morning. Outside the window, a blizzard engulfed my darkened yard. There had been silence for a couple minutes as we watched the shadow of the storm reflect across the ground. Maybe it was finally time to stop…
“There’s people who spend their entire lives studying snowflakes. I’m sure they’re more interesting than we even realize, but how can you spend all your time trying to figure out frozen speckles of water?”
We were off again. I remembered something about how each snowflake had bacteria in its center, and the flame of our conversation had been stoked. Running off tangents, we would keep feeding our intellectual blaze until one of us would fall asleep mid-sentence. The fire has yet to die after over a decade. With each conversation I have with him, it feels more and more as if our ideas were tailored for passionate discussions together. The truth, however, may lie less in fate than in the gifts of my dear companion.
I don’t remember how Nick Furlong and I forged our friendship. All I can recall is that one day in 2005 he came over to my house to discuss the details of a fantasy fiction novel we were writing called Concura. The project would serve in many ways as a sort of vehicle for our relationship. We each created one of the main characters, and as our imaginary pals (Jet and Treck) grew, so did we. By 2010 I had become the chief writer, yet when talking about the book I would never weigh my contributions more than Nick’s. The ideas came to us like rain; I happened to be the one holding the bucket. However, it was Nick who caught the lightning as it flashed.
From Concura onward it was never a question that the two of us were creative partners. Since 2005 we’ve formed three bands together (varying degrees of legitimacy) and despite the fact that Nick has little sense of melody or rhythm, he was always the singer. The roots of great art have little to do with technical ability or experience, but rather, emotions. Nick lives with his heart on his sleeve, though he doesn’t do it for others to see. He does it for himself. To remind him of the underlying emotions and experiences dictating what makes him Nick Furlong. You see, there is no one I have met with as deep an understanding of himself as Nick. His poetry can attest to this. In 2013 we published a book, Norman and the Bird, which consisted of a mashing of our original poems together. In “The Generous Man’s Donation” he considers his own altruism with eyes open wide. He questions the deeper motives behind his actions for other people, unafraid to puncture his own perceptions of what it means to do good. The poem’s layers may not extend terribly deep, but therein lies the beauty behind it (and evidence for his perceptive abilities): not every aspect of the human experience is layered equally.
There is perhaps no setting more integral to Nick Furlong than at the center of a group. Intensely extroverted, Nick gravitates towards the stage, pulling the eyes of onlookers with him. He has been criticized and admired for this, but regardless of the reason why he is in the center, it is there that his greatest gift is subtly revealed. He aspires to a career of acting acclaim, and his experience with the stage and screen is continually growing; however, his brilliance is best witnessed when observing Nick interacting before one group of people to the next. I have seen this phenomenon perhaps more than anyone else. It can easily be mistaken as such: each different combination of people Nick is around gets a different version of him, played out with such skill that everyone about him may think they understand who and what sort of man he is. To think that Nick acts as a different person across each social interaction, however, would be a mistake, for they are all variations over a common theme. You see, Nick’s unrivaled ability to connect with every aspect of himself enables him to tap into nuances few people will ever have the privilege of picking up on. Glimpses of this can be caught within his poetry, the way he introduces himself to a potential friend, and in the awesome moment where he spins an audience of friends’ attention so tightly that you can feel him tugging the threads. It is true that most people wear different masks across each type of social setting; few people would speak the same way to their boss as their child or their spouse; however, the thing with Nick is that he never wears a mask. You get his fullest, most passionate self in every situation. His greatest gift lies in the ways he adjusts himself brilliantly enough to the point where he can fit his true self into every situation without pretense. From this mastery of himself, Nick has learned to connect to anyone he chooses without a facade. And as much as it seems our never-ending conversations are a natural wonder, the truth is that they are the byproduct of his prowess for presenting the parts of himself which can connect with whoever is getting the privilege of engaging with him. Nick does this with the flair of a natural born performer. And there is no role he plays better than himself.