Gabiden and I became good friends during my junior/his senior year of high school. When I switched seats in Calculus halfway through the semester to sit next to Jordan, I ended up next to Gabiden as well. To be honest, I initially thought he hated me. We were nothing alike; Jordan & I goofed off during class, while Gabiden quietly paid attention. But as the year progressed, something clicked.

He started helping me with my homework (for the longest time, I thought he was infinitely smarter than me. I later learned that he had found the answer key online...). We began talking a little bit before and after class, and then progressed to talking during class. By the second semester, we IM'ed every single day (how 1990s does that sound? Crazy to think that was just four years ago...) He taught me how to spell & pronounce his freakishly long middle name. He told me all about how he hated being color blind because he loved graphic design so much. He even managed to smile the one time I got a higher grade on a Calc test than him & Jordan (I'm fairly certain I still have that test somewhere...). I was a Junior Marshall at graduation, and cried when he walked across the stage. His senior bequeathment in the last edition of the Chronicle was:

I, Gabiden Kourman, being of sound mind and body do hereby bequeath my elite Asian skills to Elizabeth Haynes.

We stayed in touch after he went to college. We went out to eat, I went over to his house, he even occasionally came to Calvary although he swore he'd never set foot in the high school again. We IMed & texted all the time. He edited my Duke application essay (correction: he ripped apart my Duke application essay). When I called him in tears the night before a physics project was due, he stayed on the phone with me & walked me through each step, despite the fact that he never took physics himself. He gave me his AP Euro book, although I'm pretty sure the "elite Asian skills" didn't rub off on that. He tried to convince me to go to Wake, but was still happy for me when I got into Duke (he was one of the first people I told). And...he drew me a picture in Japanese. He claimed it says "cute artist," but I suppose I'll never know :)

We talked during the first few weeks of my freshman year of college as well. I told him that I clipped out his senior bequeathment, mounted it on a notecard, and taped it on my desk for good luck. I still have it, and it's still one of the first things I hang in my room on move in day. I may not have gained any "elite Asian skills" whatsoever, but I most definitely gained a wonderful friend.

Today would have been Gabiden's 21st birthday :) So... happy birthday, Gabiden. I love you.