Hello again all! I have been reminded for the last two days it is time for me to post another update in my Letters to Brian segment. I know this, but damn if it hasn’t been hard to put together. Not really because I don’t have anything to say, but because all of this is kind of daunting. How do you take five years worth of a persons life and condense it to paragraphs? How do you describe something so impactful and so mercurial in a way that gets the point across?
I figured the best way to do it was to go back to the beginning. To understand the context of the letters and the change I needed to understand the timeline of how everything played out. I realized that although I had picked up parts of the story throughout the past year, I had never sat down to actually piece together a cohesive timeline of all of the events. So that was my task for this week, figuring out from beginning to end what exactly happened between 2013 and now.
Step one was to talk to Curtis. I asked him what his first impression of Brian was when he met him back in 2013.
“Arrogant” he replied, without even stopping to think. I kind of just stood there looking at him.
“Really? Arrogant? That’s all you’ve got for me?”
“Yep, he thought he knew everything and I was just an idiot. He was arrogant.”
Ok then. Arrogant. Not the starting point I was looking for but that’s what we were going to go with. I should point out that Brian was also in the room at the time and heard this exchange and immediately started to protest. He had reasons. His life was crazy back then. You have to understand all of the things he was going through. He didn’t try to cover up the fact that he WAS arrogant, more just to describe WHY he was arrogant. So at least we can all apparently agree that arrogance was a factor and move on from there.
Curtis once described Brian as a cork bobbing on water. This was a point that Brian actually agreed on. His life does seem to be full of more ups and downs than most, and he seems to ride those waves as best he can. He compensates one way or another and then watches the effects of his actions ripple out towards others. Who knew Curtis could be so poetic? It did bring me to the realization that before I could understand Brian’s actions and relationships I needed to understand the context that they were presented in. I asked him to go ahead and give me the timeline of all the things that had happened since he started working with Curtis, and he enthusiastically broke it down for me.
Before I get into it further, I feel like I need to make a disclaimer. Obviously we are only going to be getting one side of the story. Obviously there is some criminality involved, and as such it kind of puts me in a weird place as to how to frame everything. I know Brian as a good man, who has probably done some bad things. Were those things justified at the time, or are the being presented now in the best light? I have no idea. I think of Brian as a trustworthy guy for the most part, and so I am going to try to withhold opinions or judgements as best I can and instead just present the facts as I know them.
If things come to light down the road that change anything, or if I find out anything is misrepresented I will come back and update my posts accordingly. For now I am going over the timeline of things, not getting too far into the details themselves. Those are going to be fleshed out and described in future posts.
Brian started working with Curtis in May of 2013. He had been arrested on the Friday before his first day of work, which was a Monday. All of this stemmed from a woman he was seeing at the time. This was definitely a “down” time in his life, and his attitude at work reflected it. I have asked other people in the office what he was like around this time and the results were much the same as how Curtis described them.
He was untrustworthy. He was flaky. His overall attitude kind of sucked. This all lasted until his breakup in July of 2014, when he started one of his upswings. That cork metaphor is looking better and better. He started going to a men’s church group. His work performance improved. Curtis, who had spent many months trying to have a positive impact on his life, began to see progress. The framework for the friendship was being laid. This lasted until September, when Brian reconciled with his ex, and the cycle began again.
That is one of the more interesting things about the story, is how cyclical it was. You could almost predict where it was going based off who Brian was spending time with. I know this isn’t exactly a revelation, there are countless people who would probably have had some type of experience similar to this. Still it’s striking to think, if everyone else can see something like this coming, why couldn’t Brian?
The relationship lasted until Jan, 1 2015 when things ended for good. Unfortunately, what transpired on that night would lead to much of the frustration and troubles with the law going forward. I have not asked Brian much about that night yet, but it is definitely something that is going to be touched on down the road, as it is a cornerstone of everything that followed.
In May of 2015, Brian received word that he was going to be formally charged for the things that transpired on New Years. The US Marshals showed up at the office on July 28th to take Brian into custody, however he wasn’t there. In the time in between these two events, Curtis began to work in earnest on helping save him. For better or worse, Curtis had become invested in Brian over the years, and had taken it upon himself to do what he could to, in his words, “save his soul”.
As of August 1, Brian was officially on a leave of absence from work, and was taken into custody on August 18. Despite the fact that it would be months before Curtis would see him, he decided to start writing him to keep his spirits up in jail. This continued until Brian was able to bond out in November.
According to both Brian and Curtis, this was basically the rock bottom part of the story. All of the turmoil and strain from the previous year would lead to an overdose on the night of Feb, 6th. Through this overdose, Brian would experience a vision from God that would mark the turning point in his life. He would experience a second vision a few weeks later. I am not going to get into the details of the visions in this post because I am going to go into them much more in detail at a later time.
Suffice to say at this point Brian becomes a better employee, person, and overall friend to those around him. I asked Curtis what he noticed as the real difference between this Brian and the one before and he got a big smile on his face. “His focus changed. He went from loving himself to loving others. Focusing on the people around him. It was night and day.”
This new found pattern of positivity and growth would continue until his bond was revoked on July 28 of 2016, when Brian was sent back to prison for the final time, lasting until his release in 2018. This is the point where I enter the story, and brings us to today. Brian has continued his bobbing, going through both good times and bad in the six months that I have known him.
The biggest difference I think, between what has happened to him previous to this and what has happened now is that his ups and downs are way more controlled these days. He has a support system in place to help. He has people around him all the time, not just investing in his well being, but also helping to hold him accountable for his actions. Hell Curtis is sitting next to him every day, like a protective older brother, always trying to know what Brian has going on and how is he going to deal with it?
To me this is one of the most interesting parts of the whole situation, the way that their relationship has changed and evolved from before prison, to during, to now. When he was in prison, Curtis was focused on support and encouragement. He talked to me every day about how worried he was for Brian and how much he wanted to lift him up to help him through his time. Now that focus has shifted. There is still some encouragement there, but there is also a focus on accountability. It’s more tough love.
It manifests itself in different ways, but it always reminds me of the ways that I interact with my siblings. Sometime Brian smiles and laughs it off. Other times he looks like he is contemplating throwing a stapler at his “brother’s” head. Overall though, the positive effect is noticeable, and I am very curious to see if my opinion changes as I get into the letters.
Side note, I know that these posts are called “Letters to Brian” and so far I haven’t actually described any of the letters themselves. Those will probably start next week, but I realized diving straight into the letters wouldn’t make much sense without understanding all of the things that were going on around the time that they were written. I thought about going ahead and diving into the first one today, but this post is already getting kind of long. So that’s where we are heading next week. Letters!
Also, I wanted to take a second to thank those of you that have read this and given feedback on it. I know that this is kind of a unique series when compared to what I normally write, but it’s a fun project and I think this story is an important one to tell. So, whether you are a friend of Brian’s, a family member, a random viewer just glancing over, I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to check this out. Any comments or support that is left in the comments section will definitely be passed on to Curtis and Brian as necessary.
Thanks for reading!