is my other half. He is everything and nothing like me. He embodies
the kind of person I have never been able to be and have always
wanted. He is also the reason for many of my most favorite pastimes
like skateboarding, snowboarding and rock-climbing. I met Matt as
a Freshman in highschool, just after he had made a name for himself
by way of "permanently borrowing" people's - and more
specifically, teacher's - hood ornaments. Both of his parents were
teachers in the Marblehead school system, so it was a bigger deal
than normal and a lot of people knew of him for that. Well... that,
and the fact that he was a drama geek/skater punk. Conversely, I
was a shy-ish little geeky kid who never deviated much from the
norm. I had a small group of friends and was never really good at
making new ones. I think that it was Matt Ulrich who initially introduced
us. They lived near each other and I ran into them one day when
they were making plans to hang out after school. They invited me
along to go screw around on Natti's launch ramp. I had just gotten
into skateboarding - very loosely, and WOW did I suck. We all kinda
sucked anyways. But we started hanging out more and more, going
skating together and trying to learn new tricks. He was an unusual
kid, and misunderstood by many. But Matt has always had this sprite-like
charm about him, and despite any shortcomings he has had, he always
manages to find the good in the situation and helps others to see
it too. That is one of the best things about a Matt Natti.
We hung out nearly ever day after that initial meeting. He introduced
me to all of his friends, one in particular being Dan Shuman who
went on to be one of my very best friends of all time. But besides
people, Matt introduced me to a litany of other experiences and
many of them we shared together, often for the first time. It was
a friendship built on trust, mutual understanding, learning and
sheer adventure - skateboarding to Gloucester one day, hiking up
Tuckerman's Ravine and snowboarding down, driving to New Hampshire
to go snowboarding or see the NH girls, winter camping, Woodstock
93, building ramps... I could go on and on. We did everything together.
We became so inseparable that people started calling us by the other's
name, and we would respond! I will still turn my head if someone
calls out for "Matt". We could, as good friends can do
from time to time, finish each other's sentences - and often, not
even have to speak at all because we already knew what the other
was thinking. He is the closest thing I could imagine to having
a brother and the farthest thing I could imagine to having an enemy.
Our many years together have been spent in a variety of different
ways. Matt is a traveling man - always on the move, always seeking
out a new adventure. I have always been rather grounded and content
staying where I was. As such, Matt has taken off for years to travel
around, while I have stayed behind to try and build a base. Neither
of us have been wildly successful, but we are both at least happy.
In one of my rare moments away from my base, when I was in California
with my ex, the timing was right that I got to meet up with both
Matt and Dan for Thanksgiving. I actually cooked an entire Thanksgiving
dinner - turkey and all the fixin's - for our little Thanksgiving
away from home. But the point is that we are the very best of friends
no matter where and no matter when. As any great friendships have
in the past, we have had our bumps in the road and our misunderstandings...
especially when we were young, new to each other and still establishing
our bounds. And though they were trying times, they ultimately only
made our friendship stronger.
Today, nearly 20 years into this friendship, Matt is one of the
very few people who I would trust with my life. He is still and
will always be my very best friend and I count myself as blessed
for having met him. He really has been a huge part in my process
of becoming me. And to this day, he still badgers me into doing
things that I would normally brush off for the sake of my inhibitions.
He still pushes me to go beyond my comfort zone and live life a
little more fully. And he is still always there for me whenever
I need a friend - despite his living on the other side of the planet.
I am a better man for knowing him and his friendship is one in a
trillion, and I will love him as a friend and a brother until the
day I die.