Keeping Conrad with Us
by Meg Waage
If you had walked into a newspaper layout meeting last year, you would have seen several things: editors proofing the articles, Emma Heikkinen playing her highly diverse music selection and working hard on layout, and Conrad, sitting at the computer in the front of the room photoshopping needed images for the paper, and some that were not needed (the chicken in the time vortex is an unrecognized masterpiece).
Even though layouts are obviously fun, some of the funniest moments were when Conrad would show us his latest photoshopped masterpieces. My favorite times were the occasional debates he would start about the possibility of time travel. As of this writing, newspaper layout has yet to begin for our next edition, but I know that when it starts that empty space I feel by his loss is going to feel a whole lot bigger.
I first met Conrad when we were nine; I was so excited to have a cousin my age, or, a nice cousin my age. While our parents talked about things no child really cares about, I showed him around outside. I had a favorite spot back then, a little cove in the trees by the pond. I had a raft that served as a bench. We talked a lot and laughed like kids do; then he got this impish grin on his face and pulled out a match box from his pocket. Not a little carry-in-your-jeans one, no, a full-sized matchbox from his sweatshirt.
As children, we are told to never play with fire, but you can’t light a pond on fire, right? We sat out there for what felt like hours and hours creating little boats out of twigs and leaves before lighting them ablaze and sending them onto the water. When we finally had to go, Conrad put the match box back in his pocket and we walked back, grinning.
The next couple times his family came to visit, we shared a grin, but we never talked about it.
A few years later when I was in middle school, I learned that his family was moving to Orcas. I had never had family my age that lived even remotely nearby before, so I was very excited.
I am grateful to have had the few years he lived on Orcas to get to know Conrad. He had this knack for keeping things light and funny, no matter how he was feeling. He always lightened up newspaper meetings, and I honestly can’t remember three times when he wasn’t upbeat. The amount of times we engaged in theoretical debates about physics and time travel are too many to count.
I do not want to say “he will be missed” or “The Viking Voice will never be the same”, because there is nothing I could say that would be enough or that would make you understand all that I am trying to express. I’m not writing this because I want to remind everyone he is gone or to ask everyone to miss him. I’m writing this to remember Conrad and to laugh and cry at the best of the memories, because when we do, a piece of Conrad stays with us forever.
Memories of Conrad
by Margot Van Gelder
The first time I met Conrad was in eighth grade. He was visiting the class, sitting in the back row of the Orcas Island Middle School Language Arts room. I’m pretty sure he was introduced as “Meg’s cousin, Conrad.” He quickly developed an identity beyond that. He fit right in my weird, quirky class. I don’t have many clear memories of Conrad from middle school, but what I do remember is the Cheshire Cat hat he wore to the middle school dance. Then he was shy about dancing, so we had a staring contest over the fact.
He was the master of Photoshop at The Viking Voice. One of my favorite memories is watching him paste McCabe’s face over the demigod from the movie Moana. Every so often he would laugh and tilt the screen towards me to show the crazy shades of orange and grey that had most recently been used. He was one of two people who actually dressed up for London day in Western Civilization. Meg trying to steal his glasses became a sort of ritual at lunch. I remember going to Orkila with the NextGeneration club and doing the catwalk, a log between two trees high above the ground. It was getting dark, so when he got up there, he was a silhouette against the sky. He was probably the person who was the most comfortable up there and who crossed the log the easiest. He always rode his bike to school and back. I would see him from the bus; sometimes we would wave. He had a quick sense of humor and was always so kind. He was the person who would wish you a happy birthday, or have the most random conversation in the middle of class with you, but they were always interesting conversations. I thought of him as a friend; I hope he thought the same of me. I miss you Conrad.