Thursday, August 20, 2009

Accidents of Geography and 10 Memories of a Friend

1988, September, Sarah Lawrence College: I decided I wanted to get to know the members of a newly formed glowing couple. The couple didn't last more than a few weeks but both of them were my friends until two weeks ago when one of them, Michael died in a tragic accident in Mexico.

1989 Andrews House, Sarah Lawrence: Michael gave wonderful head rubs but he managed to leave your hair in hideous tangles. When one of our friends was walking around looking like Eloise, we knew they had been treated to a head rub.

1990, February, London: My house burned down. The house I was staying in burned down and they put us in port-o-cabins, meant to be used as offices at construction sites. The beds were so flimsy that the corner leg broke off when I sat down on it. I was working with horses and the floors were filthy. My bed was filled with grime that I couldn't seem to shake out of it and I had to go through the London winter night to use the bathroom, which was in British style, unheated.

Michael was in a theater program in London and was staying in a bed and breakfast with central heat and hot and cold running water and you didn't have to go outside to go to the bathroom. Through some turn of luck and an odd number of students in his program, he had a single room to himself and although he couldn't give me a key, I stayed with him. He was depressed that winter. His girlfriend back at Sarah Lawrence had fallen in love with a dear friend of his. They had written letters to tell him about it. I was sad because my dream horse program that was supposed to turn me into a fabulous rider fell apart. I dropped out of the program and would have been stranded in London if it hadn't been for him. We were sad together. We were both 20 and thrilled by the lack of a drinking age. One night we went to the liquor store and bought a bottle of "Good Nourishing Stout" and some sort of pastries. The stout was good and nourishing but I don't remember the pastries. That time solidified an important friendship.

1990 Summer, Shelburne Falls, MA: Michael was teaching English? Theater? at a the Camp for Talented Youth based out of either Hampshire College or Mount Holyoke. I was living alone at my parent's farm during the week and they would join me on weekends. He spent many summers in Western MA teaching at CTY and I don't remember which year this one was from. It was probably the weekend, because he stayed over, but my parents weren't around for one reason or another. We made and ate almost an entire batch of brownies that we doctored up with melted butter and extra chocolate chips. It was sweltering that weekend and we swam in the river at night. The moon was full and the world was bright with long shadows in that strange blue light.

1993 Brooklyn: Michael, in his typical non-grudge holding way became roommates with the guy who wrote him the letter in London. He never burned a bridge that I knew about. The apartment had 2 bedrooms one was fabulous and I think it had a chandelier. The other bedroom, was smaller and that one was Michael's.

1994 (or so) Michael and Jordan moved into the Tiny Happy in the East Village after a too long stint of couch surfing. The location was fabulous, right near the Christopher Street Subway stop. The apartment walls were dingy, in spite of the fresh paint the landlords has supposedly painted. The furniture was thirdhand. But the walls were covered in their friend Ken's sublime artwork and you could get really, really good Chinese food delivered at 3:00 AM. Michael made me a key as soon as they got settled so I always had a place to stay in New York. I was working in Boston for a New York company and was in the city nearly every week. But at 24 I didn't know how to negotiate the fact that they had to put me up. Every Time. But it didn't matter because I had the key to the Tiny Happy. One night I made a bet with him that the song Everybody Wants You was by Billy Joel and not Billy Squire. I lost that bet.

1995, (or so) Thanksgiving, Shelburne Falls: Michael brought his script for Rubber Monster Factory a radio play he had written to the Farm. We passed the script around the table about when the pie got brought out. My friend David Sherlock, a Yorkshire England native read the part of the bumbling British Secret Agent and we all laughed so hard until tears streamed down our faces.

November 1998 Marin, CA: Rich, by then boyfriend and future husband and I spent a month in California after my niece was born. Right after Thanksgiving we met him at his parent's house in Marin after a hike through the hills so long some nice ladies ended up driving me and Rich back to our car. We feasted on Thanksgiving leftovers and Halima explained to me why avocados are fattening. I asked Michael how he had ended up with a name like Michael when his siblings were named Halima and Marlin. He said that his name is really "Ethan" and that he re-named himself Michael when he was 3 or 4 and that it had stuck.

April 23, 2000: Colrain MA Center for Cultural Evolution. Michael was a bridesmaid bridesman? in my wedding and went into the room where I was getting dressed. Rich was dressing in the hallway and realized he was in there and boomed "WHY IS THERE A GUY IN THERE??" and Michael said "But I'm a Bridesmaid!" I reminded Rich of this exchange recently and he laughed at himself.

There are so many more memories. But these are the ones that stand out for now. I miss him so much and will continue to do so for years and years to come.