Its been just over a week now since I found out Mike died.
Mike was my friend for almost 25 years. It was always “Me & Mike.” If one of us was around, the other wasn’t far behind. Always causing trouble, somewhere. Me, waist deep in classic literature from dead psychoanalists, him waist deep in books about various religions and the occult, we’d spark up the most hilarious arguments with people, drunk, high, whatever as hell, where ever we were. Our favorite argument “Can you tell us about your personal relationship with God?” sent many a woman, boy, or plain old punk assed kid crying to their mom.
Sometimes, these arguments were productive (if we liked you, which was rare) and we’d meet some of the best, (and worst) smartest people I’ve ever known.
At least, that’s how I’d like to remember him.
In truth, there was everything you’d expect from a 25 year long relationship with someone.
He saw me through some of the hardest times in my life, and I tried to help him through his. What was funny was that we never really thought we had any other friends, though we were always surrounded by people. Mostly folks I met through my brother, good folks that helped me out some, that I spent my *formative 20s with, mostly.
*Formative = We did a lot of drugs. And drank a lot. And I mean, a LOT. And by “we” I mean me.
Eventually, he found a woman & started a family, someone with whom he tried to set me up with first..it was one of the most hilariously bad match ups I’ve had that lasted about a week, if I recall correctly. They got along well enough, at first. I remember trying to start “the wave” at his civil union ceremony in the courtroom. The judge was not amused.
Then came Raven, his daughter. “Birdy Girl,” as we called her. A beautiful girl he was always so proud of. A girl any father would be proud to have.
That’s when things started to slow down. Responsibilities, & life in general kept us from being as much of a menace as we were..mostly. We’d argue, about this & that that we’d get ourselves into, and we’d leave each other be to deal with our own bullshit till the other would just show up. Still, we were always there for each other, to help, or just to plain forget life’s bullshit.
It was during one of these periods that I moved to the country, having enough of the city life, women, and just wanting to get clean. It was the best thing I could’ve ever done for myself, and one of the worst things to ever happen to me. Though I’ll still tell you I’d either be dead, or in prison if I’d stayed.
Five years later, I got ahold of Mike through a mutual friend. I knew right there & then why things were so…different. Hard. And I saw a change in him too, though we decided to just get over our bullshit, and support each other as we always had.
Sporadically we talked, as he was notoriously hard to get ahold of, and I was busy being me, lost in my solitude. It was strange, strained and hard, as I saw him go down the path of self destruction he’d bitch at me about earlier in our lives. And I regretted all of it. Putting him and everyone who loved me through all those things, and never having an answer to any of it. All the dumb mistakes I made..
I didn’t know how to help. So I tried to get him to come out here, get away from it all, and we even talked about him moving out here. We had it out once, out on the table. Everything we’d gone through, and all that was going on with us in our lives. Neither one of us was nice about it, but this was FAR from the first time that had happened.
Too late, I found out that was to be our last conversation.
Mike, I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there. I’m sorry for all the bullshit, and I’m sorry that you’re gone. You changed my life, and so many others. You will be missed.
But as far as I’m concerned, it’ll always be, me & Mike. See you when I get there, bud.