Today, I learned of the sudden passing of an old college friend, Sean Gullen, at the far too young age of 37.
Sean Gullen was a one-of-kind guy. He was a man of great humor, a great raconteur, and a person with nary a bad word to say about anyone. Everyone should have a friend like Sean Gullen.
I met Sean sophomore year of college, as we lived on the same floor in Warren Towers at Boston University. We became fast friends and eventually became roommates for our final three semesters at BU. I’ll always remember how brilliant Sean was. Sean was a real thinker, but with a common-man sort of way about it.
I think we got along so well initially because we both had a deep interest in music and baseball. Sean was devoted to his New York Yankees, and I my Boston Red Sox, but never once was there a fierce argument between the two of us on our loyalties. He would go to Sox games with me at Fenway just to see the game, just because he loved baseball so much. We would talk music all the time. One of the greatest musical gifts he gave me was to turn me on to The Byrds “Notorious Byrd Brothers,” still one of my all-time favorite albums to this day.
Sean was the kind of guy who relished in discussion. I couldn’t count how many long talks we had on anything and everything, from music, to film, to sports, to politics, you name it. He also had a great ability to identify and laugh at the absurdities in everyday life, and he never took himself too seriously.
We had a lot of fun at BU. I still look back on those years as some of the best of my life, and Sean was in the middle of all of that. I’ll never forget us hanging on the “fake patio” with our wonderful neighbors Liz, Meg and Beckie outside our windows at Myles when weather permitted. I’ll never forget “slumming” at PJ Kilroys, or going on wacky bowling adventures to Gardner with our pal Dave Kartunen, just because it was there. I’ll always cherish our impromptu Anna’s Taqueria runs, being at Fenway watching Pedro mow down fifteen while our complimentary game-day calendars got stolen, or debating the aesthetic merits of Billy Joel’s horrible 1970 band/album Attila over a few beers.
Inevitably, as sometimes happens, we emerge from campus to go off and start our own lives and careers, and we don’t stay in touch as much as we’d like. Sean came to visit me when I lived in New Hampshire a while back, and in recent years we would talk once in a while about getting together again in New York to catch a game and catch up. Sometimes we mean to do these things, and then we wake up and find out it’s too late.
The last exchange we had was over Facebook a few weeks ago, on the topic of a misconstrued Chicago song title. That was the sort of minutae that would always inspire a spirited and witty discussion back on 96 Mountfort Street in Boston. That was the kind of friendship we had.
I imagine Sean’s in a good place now. And I know wherever he is, he will only sweat two things: perfecting his sound, and South East Asia. (Only us Attila fans will understand.)
I already missed you, Sean. And I always will. Peace and healing to all his family and friends. He was one of a kind.