On Wednesday, October 9, 2002, I was walking out of a Dashboard Confessional show at Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan. A guy was standing outside the show, yelling “Read my book! It’s like Dashboard set to words!” I stopped and went over to talk to him, because I like books. “You wrote a book?” I asked him. “Yes,” he replied. At that time, I wasn’t working much. “Is it in the library?” I asked him. “You should be able to find it there,” he told me. He handed me the small card he was giving out with the title of the book.
He was right. I went to the library and found his book. I read it. I loved it. I recommended it to friends. Then, a couple of years later, I read it again. He had another book, and I loved that one too. Years later, he had a 3rd book, a novel, which I read and enjoyed.
The stories in that first book were totally relatable. He went to Stuyvesant High School, which is where my grandfather went, many years ago. He didn’t glorify high school life, but he definitely had a great voice. His second book had a great story about spending the summer jumping turnstiles in the Subway to avoid paying, but he eventually got caught and had to a pay a fine. I think of that story every time I push through the turnstiles to take the Subway.
Last week, on Thursday, the guy I met took his own life. His name was Ned Vizzini. He had a wife, a child, 5 books, and was working on a project for a new J.J. Abrams show airing on NBC in March. He had struggled with depression for a long time. You might have seen it in the news because of the tragic way he died.
Depression is serious. It’s not something you can just “get over” and pretending it will just go away isn’t realistic. People going through difficult situations need support, however you can give it. In 2014, I have one goal — to be a better friend. I beg you to take up the same attitude with respect to your own relationships.
The books Ned wrote were impactful, and although my conversation with him was brief, I feel privileged to have had an interaction with him. His death is a good reminder of how important relationships are and how we have to show others we care.