Back when the Mercury still smelled a bit like fresh paint, there was a sudden flurry of interest in the arrival of a well-traveled gent who went by "Thog". He wrote about his travels in classic gonzo style, making even a description of an overly warm motorcycle seat a compelling read. I'll be honest: I was intimidated by Duri a little, but found him too compelling to stay too far away. I loved his writing and the crystalline humour with which he presented his adventures. Over the years, I encountered him enough to learn that he was actually Duri, not "Thog", and he was more than worthy of even the most intense fascination.
He came to be quite well known for his exuberant, thrash-it-out dance style, and that's where we first intersected in person, and where the bulk of my meaningful time in his presence was spent. As intimidating as he was to me socially, he was a perfect protector on the dance floor. Being almost two feet shorter than him and as fond of the part of the floor by the pole as he was, he provided an incomparable force field from those who were less accomplished at sharing tiny dance floors with others. More than once I found myself rescued from the over-eager and under-socialised by his whirling arms and stomping legs.
Aside from that, he was an enigma to me, and my inability to get over being intimidated kept it that way, meaning I mostly shared small talk (and the occasional wolfish smile while dancing) with him for most of the years he was more regularly in Seattle. When William and I became involved, I had the opportunity to visit with Duri more meaingfully a couple of times and learned he was yet another member of the Abused Kids Club. No, I guess I probably shouldn't say that "out loud", but I think it's relevant to the rest of this.
What I learned of Duri through those visits and his conversations with Will made me deeply sad I'd not had the courage to know him better before he went on his last few adventures. He was determined to have a different life from what his beginnings had promised him. He was erudite, principled, and loyal. And, yes, tormented. His attempts at making the life he wanted to have ran into incredible obstacles that sounded like they were from summer movies (improbable and huge and bombastic), stacking on top of his past.
Another admission: his lack of obfuscation when it came to what he thought of other people was surprising to me. He was diplomatic, but he didn't care for hypocrites or sycophants, and he was made uncomfortable by inclusion in groups he felt didn't live up to even their own standards, much less those of human decency. I also unexpectedly learned he enjoyed making light of people who attempted ingratiating themselves to him or riding his coattails into the "Cool Kids club" (an affiliation he eventually became discomfited by). He thought of them as the adult forms of the bullies and snivelers he'd found distasteful even in childhood, and had little patience for their machinations. I guess I'd thought his size, demeanour, and "cool factor" allowed him to move between the lines without care or concern. That he did care and did have concerns was what surprised me, showing again how my assumptions lead to terrible underestimations.
Thinking of all that I knew about him and those few times we shared words, I don't feel comfortable talking about why his liver failed nor the conversations william and I had about his growing health issues. I do feel comfortable, however, saying that he was a better person than his end would have some think, that he deserved so much more from life than what he got, and that I can't stop considering this knot of anger in my heart for how helpless he felt in mastering his compulsions. Not at him, although I guess that's probably natural, considering. No, I'm angry at the people who filled him up with the programming which made those compulsions so strong they eventually took his health (and life) away. Such a terrible waste of a brilliant, talented, valuable human being.
Duri, now that you've been freed from that shell, I hope the sting of your beginning can fade. You will always be in my heart and mind as an inspiration and reason to keep looking on the bright side as much as possible. If the events after death work the way I hope they do, your energy will go on to another purpose, perhaps even filling another shell with your bright spark. May whatever happens next be more peaceful and nurturing. Most importantly, may those left behind take comfort in the good you contributed while you were here with us, and take into their hearts the lessons of your too early demise. Be at peace, Duri, and know you were cared about by many.