As much as I like to think that I don't copy my personality or affectations off of anyone, there are a few cases where I cannot say that for sure. Those who know me know I am somewhat of a constantly evolving, wacky personality. I can shift from dark and dirty to bright and innocent mind sets with ease, and if I have a "catch phrase" of any kind, I usually lose it in a few weeks and maybe even shift to a different one. I enjoy my popular culture, and movie or television references come out of my mouth at a mile a minute, especially when I am in the presence of a fellow pop culture buff. In a way I am an amalgamation of what I see and read and there would be rare instances where someone could point out an action of being indicative of me, simply because I change so much. Maybe it is because I am still young, and maybe I will settle down when I am older, but who can say?
There are some things I have picked up along my short life that seem to stick. Like the way I put my hands on my hips when I'm just doing nothing (as opposed to when I'm mad, which is when a lot of people put their hands on their hips). That I know I got from my mother. For years I bit my nails, another habit of my mother's, though I have been nail-biting free for over two years now. Then there are things I made a part of my life because of people I admired. I would take what I liked of other people and try on different guises, which eventually helped me become the self-styled man I am today. There were those late-90s goths who bordered on Cyberpunk that inspired me to dress in black with spikes and chains most days in the eighth grade. That look has stuck around, though I wear it less often. I've looked up to professional athletes, specifically swimmers, baseball players, and dancers, which has prompted me to continue my interest in those sports to this day (I like hockey now too, but that is newer). Kurt Cobain and other grunge artists are what inspired me to grow out my hair when I was younger, though I only recently was allowed to. It is interesting what small things have stuck and where they come from.
Then there was Kevin. Kevin was a guy who I met the summer between my Sophomore and Junior years of High School. He was a swimmer, and he came to practice over the summer on my club team as a way of staying in shape for swimming at college. Summers were frequently a time for college swimmers to come back, though most of them only talked and interacted with each other, ignoring the rest of us. Kevin was different, and he and I swam a lot of the same events, so we eventually developed a form of camaraderie. I would not call it "friendship" because every time I looked at him it was like looking up at an idol. I know I have mentioned being affected by older and better swimmers this way before, but with Kevin it was more than just the swimming. I saw Kevin as a perfect picture of the man I eventually wanted to grow up to be. He had a square jaw, masculine lines, he was muscular, but not thin, clearly very strong. Like all swimmers his shoulders were huge, and he had a way of rolling his swim cap up so it covered less of his head, but still looked very cool.
But what I liked best about him was his smile. The crooked way one side of his mouth would turn up when he smiled because he was truly happy. When his eyes were bright above that smile, I would melt in an instant.
I remember loving the moments that I had together with him. Frequently we were the only two men who would show up for the early morning swim practices that summer, and I would have plenty of time to chat with him. We talked about everything: college, swimming, family, friends, probably hitting on every subject imaginable. I was fiercely jealous whenever he would give his attention to other people on the team, though there was one female swimmer I enjoyed us hanging out with and I have no idea why I wasn't jealous of her. One other college swimmer, Eric, was there that summer. He was physically more attractive than Kevin, but a real prick. When the two of them were together, all I could do was imagine them fucking and then rage at my imagined injustice. I wasn't in love with Kevin, but I grew to live for the moments when we were close. Moments in the shower together when he made me feel like his equal, when he made me warm, when he touched me...
The physical ways Kevin touched me were fleeting moments, but the ways he touched and has touched my life can still be seen to this day. If I had to point out one way Kevin's impression has still stuck to me, I would point out my smile. I now smile in the same half-smile that Kevin would. I don't even remember if copying it was a conscious choice of mine, and I had actually forgotten all about the smile until recently someone described my smile to me. When they told me what my smile was like, my mind clicked and I realized it was Kevin's smile on my face. He has affected me in other, less visible, ways too. I think my generally easy-going demeanor is partial a fabrication based on his own beach-boy-like comfort in any situation. My ability to enter any room, regardless of how well I know the others there or what will happen, with a smile on my face and an easy step seems to come directly from him.
When I think about how he is still clearly a part of me, even though after that summer I never saw him again, I have to smile and feel good. There have been plenty people in my life who were just terrible to me, and who I would never want to see as a part of myself. That Kevin, this wonderful and kind man, has clearly been a huge influence on me makes me lucky. I'm happy to be molded partially from him.