MY FRIEND, CYPRIAN DZIECIOL
Thank you for always sticking by me buddy. You will always be my friend & brother. -July 5, 2009. 10:02 pm
I first met Cyprian when I was around 8 years old – maybe a year or so before this picture was taken of us at Stone Mountain, NC. When I went off to college, some 10 years later, I started a journal in which I’d scribble down my thoughts on just about everything under the sun (life, death, love, God, the whole enchilada!) and Cyp made his way into dozens of these entries because of the deep bond that we shared.
Nietzsche commonly refers to his friendship with Richard Wagner being the pinnacle of his relationships. He once said of their relationship, “Under our sky, no cloud ever passed.” Whenever I think of a duo, anywhere in life, Starsky & Hutch, Butch & Sundance… I think of us, Cyp and Mike. I love him more than a brother, because brothers sometimes fight. We never did.
I write because there is no calm, no solitude, like the quiet asylum of your own words. Writing, for me, gives limitless dimension to my life. Each wondrous moment, once etched, becomes like a time machine and floods the mind and body with emotions once felt. It’s a painful, yet cathartic feeling, as I now write this online entry. How do I attempt to write a summary of our 23 year old friendship?
My friend, my best friend, took his own life on July 5th, 2009… approximately half and hour after text messaging me the above (top of the page) quotation. Of which I had replied, “Of course. Band of Brothers!” [Band of Brothers, after the television series that we enjoyed together]. I hate that I couldn’t have deciphered the intent behind that message, and had mistaken it as being simply, a sincere thank you for helping him through some heavy, emotional issues. The mending of a broken heart is one of life’s greatest pains and sometimes that pain can be more than one can bear. But he was never alone, and his entire life (although he had ups and downs with depression) inwardly knew (and I know this for certain) that he was loved.
Jamaal, Cyp and myself (and later in high school, Michael Adams) were just about as tight as a group of youthful lads can be. In the late 90′s, Cyp and I got caught up in a Travel Channel television show called, Adventure Bound with Alby Mangels, who was an Australian adventure-lover turn documentary film maker (see World Safari I-III). We had the same passion for exploration, nature and living life on-the-edge-of-life, as Mangels, and vowed to start what we dubbed our “Annual Alby Mangels Week” (which many times was actually just a weekend) whereby we’d journey to some place rather remote… and just explore… just simply exist and take life in its raw, most natural form. We managed to do about 6, quote-unquote,”Annual Alby Weeks” before school and work schedules interfered. But those adventures would always standout as being some of the most memorable and fun experiences of our lives (Read about our journey, here).
The destination was almost always The Outer Banks of North Carolina. It wasn’t as touristy as the mainland coast and was more pristine and away-from-it-all (without being out-of-the-state). We had our various picture-taking-rituals, the most important was the “Jockey’s Ridge Bums” (above), the “Dauntless Resolution” photo (in which we sit under the Wright Brothers Memorial) and the “Nose-picking of the Wright Brothers” photo. We never took a serious picture. There was always a silly, gross or dramatic spin that would naturally possess each of us before the camera flashed. We all had our roles, nicknames, and code words.
Cyprian was known by several names. Besides the obvious shortening of his name to Cyp or Cypie, he was also known as: Whitedevil, Edward Scissorhands, the self-proclaimed “Dodge” (which never took), or Tim Burton. He got these because of his skinny frame and his penchant for evil-doing. Not anything criminal, mind you, but he was always the playful, back-stabber that would take a jab (physical or verbal) at you in order to see the reaction… or if it was a good shot at you, run like hell. But as groups go, he was our leader in that we usually went along with his ideas of where we were going to go, where we were going to eat, and what we were going to do… half because he was rather picky, and half because we didn’t care.
Michael Adams was a guy that I met in World History class and whom we occasionally ran into when we went to the local punk shows. Since he wasn’t in our group at its conception (grade school), Michael would, for-the-longest-time be “the new guy”, until we unofficially indoctrinated him in our junior or senior year of high school. Michael would go by many names such as: Cherub, “Rub”, Cherubulous, The Flying Infant, and Pregness… all of which we knew he didn’t like, but hell, you can’t pick your nickname.. it just sticks. Cherub was Cherub also because he had to be… since, I too, was a Michael – and I arrived first. Secondly, his cheeks would get rosy and from time-to-time and he would go into flights of what we called “Cherubulous rage.”
Jamaal, or “Jam” was the first to know Cyprian. Jamaal is a few years younger than Cyp and myself, and grew up in the same apartment complex as the Dzieciols. Jamaal and Cyp remained very close even after Cyp and his parents moved away from the downtown area and began residing on Piccadilly Drive. Gradually over the years, we three, formed a bond that would last us our entire life. Jam was sometimes called: RaspyJam (per his gaming screenname and from a quote in the movie, Ronin), Jamus of the X, Seal, and “Slow” (as only an inside slight to his readiness skills).
We were a small, loyal group of guys that would often meet at Cyp’s mom’s house for large quantities of wonderful Polish dishes. Pierogi, Bigos, Golabki, you name it! When Barbara (“mom”) wasn’t there, we’d go out to Chen’s Chinese Restaurant (one of our high school hangouts. Cyp would always order the Peppered Steak) which switched to Little Richard’s BBQ (which we called “Little Girls” because they had a couple of cute girls working there) after Chen’s closed… and Papa John’s Pizza (of which all of us, but Michael Adams worked at). Cyp got Jam a job at Papa John’s Pizza and later, put in a good word for me (as I was looking for some additional, weekend work) and for several years, all three of us worked as drivers… calling one another whilst on-the-road (to make the night go quicker).
Over the last several years, Cyp became good friends with Jesse Sineath, who we’d also “unofficially indoctrinate” into our group around 2006 or so. Jesse would usually join us at the bowling lanes and for our occasional late-night gaming/movie sessions. Jesse is in the Army and stationed in Korea. It might be for his military background that we didn’t include him in our physical confrontations of strength.
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Cyp would mention that he wished he could make friends easier, but at the same time, he relished in the fact that he had three mates that would “always be there.” The surprise of it all, was that he was blessed with some good friends, beyond us three. His personality was that of “playful excitement” and easily attracted friends from both work and school. He was an amazing artist, although he would never admit that he had any talent. He won the prestigious Golden Key Award for his artwork, and went from high school’s Advanced Placement Art to Graphic Design school in Raleigh. He dropped out of that particular college because he didn’t feel like he’d be any good at it. He always felt that he could “draw a good picture, but it would take him a long time, and it probably wouldn’t make very much money.” It’s safe to say that he never really pinpointed what he wanted to do or become, but he came close after going to Hawaii with his dad, Leszek.
Cyp and I, at one point, (around 2004 or 05) were both in crappy relationships. Cyp was coming to the “boiling point” of his relationship and mine, although much more stable, was on it’s way out. We watched the movie Endless Summer one night and several weekends later watched Endless Summer 2 and began to feel strongly towards “leaving it all behind” (as was in our “Alby-nature”) and take up the life of a surfer. My girlfriend at the time caught wind of these dreams of ours and, quite reasonably, began not liking Cyp very much. My relationship didn’t last too long after that. And later, with a little collective help from Jamaal and myself, Cyp was able to great free from under his tyrannical relationship. Too much to get into there, but needless to say, he was relieved to be out from under the massive weight of that relationship. He said to me in an instant message,
I promise you man, after (insert her name here), I will have no meaningful relationships… this I vow today …
Now you must understand, this was just Cyp being dramatic. The only thing he meant by this, was that he would, in absolutely no way, be duped into another relationship – at least one that had someone living with him and telling him what he can and cannot do. But he DID go on to find someone new in Ashton… someone that truly captured his heart. And he felt soo fortunate and happy from the age of 27 to 30. Cyp was pessimistic about a great many things, but there were many times where he knew true happiness and everyone could see it… he couldn’t deny it.. and was his strength.
As young boys, Cyp and I would stay up late and ask all sorts of questions… deep questions, about life and our direction, (sometimes video games & G.I.Joes, but whatever) and what we want to accomplish. He never wanted to standout, but he wanted respect and some recognition beyond his friends and family. He never knew exactly what he wanted to do, but he knew what he’d like to be doing.
Beginning several weeks before his death, Cyp (a history major), mentioned to me that he felt a strong connection to the mythical Trojan Hektor [on of the central characters in Homer's The Iliad]. He posted a quote of Hektor’s on his Facebook and said to me that he was thinking about getting it as a tattoo on the inside of both forearms. I’ve combed The Iliad myself and because of the variations of translations and the rustiness of my memory, I can’t pin down the correct one. It could possibly be this one (albeit very ironic to Cyp’s nature):
Unquiet soul, do not be too distressed by thoughts of me. You know no man dispatches me into the undergloom against my fate; no mortal, either, can escape his fate, coward or brave man, once he comes to be.
To those that do not know this story, or history well… Cyp admired that, in Hektor, was this Trojan prince, peaceful, noble and brave. A person without ill-intent, but who fell prey to natural human hardships such as: indecision, pride, honor and fear. Hektor, like Cyp, was heroic, but that didn’t shield them from Life’s lashings (or in Greek mythology “The fate of the Gods”). Cyp knew he was heroic in character, but superiority in character could not bring forth the love/happiness that his heart needed and it was in these darker times that, just as the Gods told Hektor, Cyp knew that his time was nearing.
Cyp, being such a large part of my life, there was no doubt that he’d enter the nocturnal realm of my dreams as well. In the most lucid dream to date, I walked over to Cyp as he was sitting on a concrete slab. When he saw me, he nearly burst with excitement. I walked closer to him, not even remembering what had happened to him, that is, until he started to speak to me. As he asked me “How ya doing?” I quickly welled up with emotion and asked, “Don’t you know what happened (to you)?” he looked puzzled. As I began to tell him, I started to cry. I touched his shoulder, gave it a squeeze and that’s when my sobbing woke me up.
There is a part of me that hopes that there is some connection between dreams and the after-life. He seemed happy and trouble-free, like I had known him to be as kids. He had no memory of his past but remembered me because of the love we shared for one another. It’s a great comfort to feel that way… that (like the line in the movie, Ghost) “…the love, you take it with you.”
We met at Fred & Barbara’s house today (10.28.2009) – Me, Jamaal, Brandy, her daughter Adrianna and Cyp’s cousin Ola. Today Cyp was awarded his college degree in History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was half-way through his last two classes, and had worked very hard & sacrificed much to get this degree. When Fred & Barbara went to Chapel Hill to pick it up, they were greeted by both the Dean and Chancellor of the university. [You can view more pictures of this day at Cyp's Facebook page -Click Here-]
THINGS WE’LL REMEMBER (THE GANG)
We, as a close pack of friends, have had lots of adventures, lots of memories that we’d like nothing more than to remember clearly for the rest of our lives. This is one of the biggest, hardest things about losing someone you love – the selfish longing to clutch onto old memories and to feel cheated at the future that will never be. Even as much as I know Cyp (which is nearly as close as Cyp knew himself), I reach out to my memory for comfort, but the theater of the mind’s reflection is nothing compared to a re-telling of these adventures amongst a circle of friends. Laughing and taunting each other. When emotions ran high, usually only by myself or Michael Adams, he (Cyp, who was often the instigator) would receive a painful ankle-lock from me, or a skull-crush from Adams. Occasionally a “gilly” was given. A gilly is a technique that Cyp and I created sometime in the early 90′s whereby you’d drill your boney knuckles into the sternum of the person. This normally illicits both a feeling of being tickled, discomfort/slight pain, and of being trapped. The move is usually performed on an unexpecting victim who’s lying on his back.
I now reside in the condo that Cyp once lived in Winston-Salem (I purchased it from him when he was bound and determined to make a life in Carrboro). The place still echos of late night Halo tournaments. This was also the place where Jamaal utilized his gift at Ninja Gaiden and played a nearly all-night tournament to outscore others across world. He placed quite high and I don’t think I’ve seen Cyp so excited for Jamaal in all my life. Jamaal will have to refresh my memories as to what his exact placement was. And these are the types of things that are bound to drive me crazy of the coming years. I want desperately to remember every detail of our life and friendship and these details would easily be supplied if Cyp were here to tell it.
A CALL TO CYP’S FRIENDS AND FAMILY
I will obviously add new thoughts and details of our long friendship as memories begin to float to the surface. However, for the time being, I am left with just photographs and certain “highlights.” Cyp’s life has touched us all in many ways and I would love to hear your fond memories, qualities of Cyp’s personality that you loved, and (in your own words) what Cyp meant to you. Please write your response in the comment section below. All of us that know and miss Cyp would greatly appreciate it.