The Volcom surfer and not the BeachGrit writer dies.
Something very strange, and very sad, happened yesterday. The surfer Rory Parker was found dead. Likely suicide.
I never knew Rory. Despite the fact that we shared a name, were the same age, ran in similar circles, had some mutual friends, we never met. Caught a glimpse of him across the room at Banzai Sushi, in Haleiwa, a few years ago. Thought about introducing myself. Decided against it.
Rory has been an odd, reoccurring, presence in my life since I was a teen. Back when I still thought I could become a pro surfer. Before I realized it wasn’t gonna happen.
I first learned of his existence was when Volcom released Stoney Baloney. It was 1995. We were both 15. They ran an ad in Surfer with my name on it. His name, really. People saw it, some mistakenly believed it was me.
I don’t remember outright lying to anyone, but I’m sure I allowed some people to retain their misconceptions. I once heard someone exclaim, upon reading a heat sheet at a local contest, “Oh man, I’ve got Rory Parker in my heat.”
He had nothing to fear from me. Rory was a far better surfer than I could ever hope to be.
I was once hired by a magazine to write an article about the Rothman family. I was very surprised when Eddie took my call. Started calling me late at night for rambling chats. He very open, unbelievable friendly. Acted as though he knew me. Sometime around our fourth or fifth conversation he realized his mistake.
Two days ago, Kyle Barnett, the poor soul who was drugged and robbed in Bali, reminisced with me about some adventure we’d shared in Bali. But that was a different person.
Pete Taras has recounted some rumors he heard about my wild North Shore upbringing.
Richie Vaculik thought I’d trained with him, when Richie was on Oahu.
I’m fairly sure Derek thought I was him during our first six months of correspondence. (Editor’s note: I had no idea who either Rory Parker was.)
Each time it ended with the same story. “Yes, we share a name. Yes, we are the same age. I grew up in LA, moved to Oahu. He grew up on Oahu, moved to LA. It’s confusing, I know. He’s a wiry Hawaiian goofy foot. I’m an oafish haole who surfs regular. He has more tattoos and does MMA and surfs much better than me.”
Over the years it became a bit of a running joke. I was THE Rory Parker. He was the other one. Never really true. People liked that Rory Parker. Far more than they like me.
I considered reaching out to him over the years, always decided against it. I’ve caught some shit that was meant for him. I know he caught a bunch of shit that was meant for me. Once with potential legal consequences. I worried he’d be upset about it. He’d’ve had every right.
I always secretly wondered if he was as aware of me as I was of him. Was I this confusing presence always lurking in his peripheral? Or was it a one way street? Why would people mistake him for me? I’ve never done anything but write stupid stories.
I always wanted to ask.
Too late now.
Suicide is a tough subject to grapple. Such a terrible thing. A waste of a life. The wrong answer to any question. And it’s just so damn confusing. Why? Why? Why?
I understand hating myself, but I’ve never known real depression. I’ve suffered intrusive thoughts. Never true ideation.
I have no training, no understanding. Only the barest grasp of empathy. My emotions run wild but they’re just phantoms I do my best to ignore.
I’m flip and I’m quick with a quip and I truly believe that nothing matters. But right now I don’t know what the fuck to say.
Just don’t. Don’t fucking kill yourself. Life sucks all the time, but there are beautiful moments you just can’t waste. Someone always cares. Someone will always try to help.
Empty words. Pointless. I know it’s not that simple. To pretend so is naive and unfair. Outright cruel to those who struggle.
This makes me so fucking sad and I’m so fucking confused. He was a total stranger. I’ve lost nothing. I feel like I’ve lost a part of myself. I don’t understand why.