Lee was my first English friend in Brighton. I met him a few months after I moved from Scotland down the south. He was introduced to me by Marta, our mutual friend from Spain, who worked with me in a sports store. It was October 2006 and I have just ended up homeless due to my poor accommodation planning and needed somewhere to stay until I found a new place. Lee offered help. So I stayed at his for over a week and enjoyed getting to know him in the meantime. Lee worked for an electricity company in Portslade to which he was taking a bus every morning. He seemed to be doing well. Dressed to impress in Dolce & Gabbana clothing he would get on the bus early morning, just to come back in the evening to listen to some music and try out all sort of creative ideas for doing stuff outside work.
I can’t remember how I left Lee’s place after staying at his but I know that he also helped me in getting through computer tests which were a part of an interview to IBM. I got the job afterwards and kept seeing Lee on more or less regular basis. We didn’t really talk much about deep stuff or what bothered us, yet we seemed to enjoy each other’s company and I was visiting Lee long after he moved to his new sweet studio flat on Palmeira Square, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Brighton. I would just get on my bike and go to see him without announcing my visit. He never seemed to be bothered that I don’t call first, and happy to see me regardless.
We lost contact when I moved to Munich for work. Nevertheless, as I don’t give up on people, I ‘found’ Lee again somehow after I moved back to Brighton, even though we were not in touch for over two years. I probably have sent him an email or something. He picked me up with his new sport car and drove to a pub outside the town. Lee liked occasionally buying sports cars which he sold as quickly, as he bought them. From that time we hanged out more regularly. He opened an IPad internet Cafe which, despite looking funky, turned out to be a business disaster. None would come to visit, except from myself and a few other girls, whom Lee met every now and then. I used to cook dinners and invite him to mine, to at least eat together since he spent most of the afternoons and nights in that place, which. in whole honesty was unlivable.
“Have you ever made such a thing as a business plan?!” I questioned him angry as it was my own brother who got it wrong. Lee wouldn’t answer and spent the evenings at mine mostly smoking cigarettes by the living room window meanwhile I was cooking the dinner for us. That’s what we did lots those days. Just dinners together in silence, cause Lee wouldn’t talk. And I wouldn’t ask anything. Just took him as he was in my company – quiet and thoughtful. Never talked about what bothers him and never complained. A brilliant, creative mind who always wanted to try out new things and invent new businesses. After shutting down the internet cafe , he moved to a lovely studio flat by the seafront, where we all enjoyed to gather.
“We all” means friends, who Lee met through InterNations (an international expat community) which local Brighton group I managed. He truly enjoyed the gatherings, as he met many new people from all sorts of nationalities and backgrounds. We became a joyful group of people. The only problem, as for me, was his cat. Yes, Lee adopted a cat from his family home, after his mom passed away. The cat (thanks God I don’t remember its name!) was, no offence, a psycho. Clearly disliked my company and scratched me badly a few times. It became a source of argument with Lee sometimes. Not a hugh one though.
I can’t count how many joyful moments I spent at Lee’s place, either just in his company or during parties and diners with our bunch of folks. I left Brighton to travel and so I ‘left’ Lee along with many other friends. When I moved to Poland, we spoke about his visit in my homeland, as this was on our minds for a long time. I moved to a sweet flat in Warsaw’s Old Town and couldn’t imagine not hosting him there. My last couple of emails were left unanswered. I wasn’t upset, either surprised, That was Lee in his all essence. A lonely wolf. Like most people who’s feel that somehow they don’t fit in. Maybe they never want to and that, in my view needs to be respected.
I was certainly shocked when I found out that Lee committed suicide. First, he was missing for one and a half week and sadly or not, I wasn’t too worried, because I was convinced that he is just hiding somewhere from reality. I was obviously wrong. Neither did I know about his mental issues and problems he had since I left the UK. I never forgot Lee but, as it happens with best friends, you might go with no contact for ages and it doesn’t matter. It turns out that sometimes it does.
I was deeply sad finding out of his death, nevertheless, looking at our pictures I remember a happy Lee who joins my house parties and social gatherings. I remember his terrace at Bedford Square and his stylish haircut. I even forgave the cat.
Life is a commodity we all trade as we choose and so, no matter how bad it sounds, I respect Lee’s decision. On the other hand, I want to make sure that if I only sense someone around me seriously struggling with the commodity called life, I want to be there for that person, if God wants me to.
Enough suffering for the sake of it.
For Lee. Rest in peace mate xoxo