It all started at the first high school football game that year. He had met my sister at school and as was the case with most people, he confused us for each other at first and struck up a conversation with me. I remember that I bought a pack of Starbursts at the game and when he told me the red ones were his favorite, I gave all of my red ones to him even though they were my favorite, too. And for years to follow, we always referred to red Starbursts as being a symbol of true love.
His initials were DW, and so as any sneaky middle school girl would do, I nicknamed him "Darkwing Duck" and scribbled, "I [heart] Darkwing Duck" all over my 8th grade notebooks. His school picture hung on the wall in my closet so I could greet his face on a daily basis.
We spent hours talking to each other (and falling asleep) on the phone, and I had my mom drive me by his house so many times that I still to this day have his parents' address memorized. During one phone call, I remember him saying to me, "Guess what... my mom had you and Allison mixed up and thought that Allison was the twin that was obsessed with me!" And don't worry, yes, I did give him a hard time about that not-so-subtle blow to my ego once the awkwardness subsided.
Doug was my first crush in Austin, but he was also my first lesson in unrequited affection because my infatuation was sadly one-sided. I eventually found another love interest and moved on, but I am so thankful to say that we remained close friends for the remainder of our high school years and beyond.
He introduced me to "Lucky" by Seven Mary Three and "Kinda High Kinda Drunk" by Coolio, because he was versatile like that.
He let me borrow his green sweatshirt and I liked it so much that he let me keep it, because he was generous like that.
He and our friend, John, kept me company during Friday night football games since all of my girl friends were on drill team, because he was loyal like that.
He dated two of my best friends and I had the pleasure of serving as his therapist on many occasions, but I never minded because he always returned the favor, because he was caring like that.
Some of my favorite memories with him include our escapades with friends when our respective parents were out of town, and even though we were causing mischief, he always made sure we were safe and taken care of, because he was protective like that.
During a game of sardines at a retreat, I grabbed his arm because something startled me, and he instantly flexed his muscles. I gave him a hard time about it but he had no shame, because he was always looking to impress like that.
He always gave the best hugs. He always remembered our birthday and called (not texted, not e-mailed, not facebook posted) to give us his best wishes. He also remembered every inside joke we ever had. And despite his passionate love for the Texas Longhorns, he never made me feel (too) inferior about deciding to go to A&M.
I know I'm not alone in saying that Doug made an impact on my life and I'm a better person for having known him. And though my heart breaks to think that I'll never get to see my friend again, I'm thankful for the wonderful memories we had together and all that he taught me in the years I knew him.
Rest in peace, Doug... and know that I'll be eating red Starbursts in your honor.