It was the first movie set I almost walked on.
A story led me to a nondescript set of buildings in suburban Louisiana in search of an actor.
More than a year before his death, Paul Walker had been filming "Hours" in the Bayou State. The movie, a story of survival during Hurricane Katrina, would be one of Walker's final entries.
His Brian O'Conner character in the "Fast & Furious" franchise, however, remains a rite of passage for me. The first movie came out in 2001, the same year I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. And, every other year or so, especially after the "2 Fast 2 Furious" Miami sequel, the series became an integral part of growing up.
Unlike the superhero movies, the "Fast & Furious" cast did not have special powers or particularly defining roles. Rather, their strength lay as a unit, something anyone can relate to.
And, beyond the fast cars and women, the franchise sped into this sense of family and belonging, which is why news of Walker's death cut on equal levels of nostalgia and shock.
I never ended up interviewing Walker after visiting the movie set for my story on Louisiana's still booming movie industry. He had been busy filming all day.
But, despite Walker's passing, his on-screen departure in "Furious 7" goes back to that sense of belonging. I watched it twice, tears flowing and the recurring "See You Again" single still on repeat.
"Fast & Furious" will always be wired in my life's steering wheel. Ride or die, right?