Friday, November 30, 2007

About a Boy

I had a crush on a boy named Mike during my freshman year of high school. It was a very embarrassing crush, as everyone in my small high school knew about it. (To give you an idea of how small my school was, I graduated with 71 people. Everyone knew every one at East Windsor High.) During this crush on Mike I channeled my inner puppy-dog and hung on his every word. Mike, understandably, avoided me like the plague and eventually I got over my crush.

I began to date one of Mike’s friends, Karl, my sophomore year. We hung out with Mike on occasion, and he became a friend who hovered on the edge of my circle of friends. My perception of Mike changed from object of affection to a cool guy to hang out with. He was intelligent, funny, and had this insanely high level of energy that he could just barely contain.

Half way through junior year Karl and I broke up. The summer after junior year I began to hang out with Mike’s older brother Leon. I ended up dating Leon for my entire senior year, and I hung out with Mike again just because I was Leon’s girlfriend. I went off to college and my relationship with Leon disintegrated with my wanting to explore my life on campus without having a boyfriend at home. I didn’t think about Mike or Leon very much for the years I was in college. Occasionally in the summer I’d bump into either of them when I was home for breaks, but that was just about it.

I graduated college, and Leon and I started up again while I was living at home that summer. I moved to the Boston area, and our boyfriend/girlfriend relationship became that of distant friends. Every now and then we’d call or email to say hi, but that’s it. I think the last time I ever saw Mike was in 1996. I think. At one point Leon had told me that Mike was diagnosed with cancer, but that his energy was carrying him through the grueling chemotherapy, and he ended up in remission. At another point he told me how Mike had moved to the Fort Lauderdale area, and had gotten into kite-boarding.

There was a period of several years where Leon and I didn’t talk. I admit I didn’t think of him or of Mike very much at all in those years. Then last year I heard that Mike had died of cancer. I looked up Leon’s address and sent him a card, and put my phone number in the card in case he wanted to talk about it. He called a few days later, just before Thanksgiving, and we got caught up and talked about Mike.

Since then I haven’t really thought about Mike at all. In March Todd and I went to dive in Fort Lauderdale and we watched the kite boarders from the dive boat, and I wondered if any of them knew Mike. But it’s not like I am sitting here missing Mike. How could I possibly miss him when I haven’t seen him in over 10 years?

Every so often Leon will shoot me an email, and I’ll respond. Last week, the day before Thanksgiving Leon sent me a link for a blog on which one of Mike’s friends wrote in memory of Mike. It was a beautiful entry, and featured pictures of Mike goofing around. The kind of pictures that you look at and wonder how someone with that level of energy could be gone. It was nice to see his face, and I can only imagine how bittersweet it was for Leon to see that entry. To see the wonderful words written about his brother, yet the heartbreak he must be feeling over missing him especially at this time of year. I wrote back, and still didn’t think all that much about Mike.

I woke up at 4 this morning from a dream. I dreamt I was having Thanksgiving dinner with Leon and his parents at their house in our home town. In the dream Mrs. Q, Leon’s mom, asked me to get something from Mike’s room, which they’d left untouched in the dream. I walked into Mike’s room and it smelled like him. I looked around at the room, at his clothes strewn all over the place and smelled the smell of Mike. I haven’t ever really been that close to Mike that I would know what he smelled like. I think I only ever hugged him once or twice. But in that dream I could smell Mike. How could I possibly remember how he smelled when I haven’t seen him in over 10 years and never really stuck my nose next to him and smelled him? It was probably one of those things where in the dream it’s understood that something is one way, but it really doesn’t look that way. Maybe it was understood that it smelled like Mike but it really didn’t. I went back to the dining room table and saw that Mrs. Q was using the bass drum from Mike’s drum set as a side table to hold some of the food, as a way to include Mike in the meal, I guess. How weird is it to have someone I haven’t thought about in over a decade permeate my dream like that?

I woke up from the dream and was lying awake thinking about Leon. This time of year is so hard when you lose a family member. The first Christmas after my mom died I was a sobbing mess straining myself not to cry all day. Each year I am less and less the sobbing mess, and have gotten to the point where I won’t cry at Christmas anymore. I can only hope that Leon and his family will get to that point too.

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Blogger Augs Casa said...

I enjoyed this read. I read a lot of books about what you just wrote about. Sad story about Mike. I'm sure he is in a better place and pain free.

November 30, 2007 at 2:11 PM  
Blogger *~*Cece*~* said...

Great post, Beej. My aunts and I were sobbing messes in my Grandparent's back yard on Thanksgiving. I miss her. Shoot. Here come the tears now.

November 30, 2007 at 5:39 PM  
Blogger Gypsy said...

That was beautiful. It's strange how we remember things, how senses retain memories.

My grandmother sold her house 15 years ago. It was a house my cousins and I grew up rambling around in. For my grandmother's 80th, she arranged to have her birthday party at that house. 15 years later, it smelled the same.

December 3, 2007 at 11:37 AM  

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