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Daryl Carr died February 21 on an icy night in the midst of a historically awful winter. He was 30 years old.
As a child in Providence, the youngest of four, Daryl thought he might become a marine biologist. Pet allergies left the family with furless fish and hermit crabs, and he had a scientist’s enthusiasm for them. But he didn’t have a scientist’s immaculate routines. When his parents offered an allowance in exchange for cleaning his bedroom, he cheerfully told them to keep the money.
Daryl was a polyglot — fluent in Arabic, Turkish, German and Spanish. Before them, there were other languages. He was seven when he picked up his first second language, learning a Bela Bartok piano solo by ear. By the time he went off to music conservatory for a year of composition, he also spoke flute, clarinet, saxophone, and guitar.
After college, he became a Peace Corps volunteer. He chose to work in a Muslim country — a young black man, bringing with him the open difference of his race and the private difference of his sexuality. In Jordan, Daryl taught English and spoke Arabic. Then Middle Eastern culture spoke to him, turning him towards academics. He was circling the topic for his sociology PhD dissertation at Boston University when he died.
The academic Daryl was quiet, considered, and theoretical. Questioning was a fundamental form of communication. Any statement someone made — any statement he made himself — was worthy of debate. He doubted everything, including his own doubt, watching himself as if he were a kind of intellectual fractal.
The personal Daryl was so generous it could be worrisome: once running 10 blocks after a graduate-school seminar to chase down someone else’s lost keys. From time to time, his generosity needed practical cuing. During the blizzards of 2015, he took a bus from Boston to Providence, and shoveled his parents out — wearing dress shoes. And an outfit he once bought a beloved newborn niece had yet to be delivered when she turned three.
Even an intellectual has non-cerebral joys, and Daryl loved watching The Great British Bake Off on TV with his boyfriend. He also watched an hour of news in Arabic and an hour of news in Spanish each night. The cerebral questioner, the low-brow and high-brow TV watcher, the generous shoveler dressed for waltzing — somehow they co-existed in complicated harmony. He was beginning to bring together all the languages he spoke.
Did you know Daryl Carr? Share your memories in the comments section.
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