Monday, August 18, 2008

Small, Still Moments

Michael had to change our dinner until tonight, Monday, so I've had to wait THREE MORE DAYS for this meeting.

He's taken me by surprise in so many ways, not the least of which has been his honesty in his emails. Big shot that I am in my oh-so-brave art, writing and music, when it comes to those small, still moments of the heart, I'm often left speechless, dumbstruck, a deer in halogen headlights frozen stiff, waiting to get whacked by certain disaster.

But Michael is open about his fears in meeting me all these years later, fearing that I'll somehow be disappointed, fearing that he'll, too, be dumbstruck. Workaholic that he is, he says he doesn't get out much and that at times, he fears he's a become something of a recluse.

This is amusing, considering his emotional directness and the job he has. In one of his first emails, he told me two very moving things: one, that his 19-year-old son passed away suddenly in 2001; and two, that he's a construction leader at Ground Zero. (I would learn later just how big a job he has.)

The juxtaposition of these two statements made me weep--to think that he had suffered such a loss, yet here he was rebuilding on the grounds of such a staggering tragedy.

In a way, it doesn't surprise me that he says he keeps to himself outside of work. When we were kids, Michael was pure mischief and pure hilarity. I can actually remember being in awe of his sense of humor, wondering how anyone could be that funny.

Yet with the onset of puberty, things began to change. We began to separate, retreating into our respective male and female camps. In eigth grade, my girlfriends were all important to me, and I can remember a day where I walked passed Michael and his friends on my way to somewhere far more important--preening teenager that I was--and I can remember the sad, baffled look in his eye. As girls grow so quickly at that age, we can often look a lot older (and a lot more secure) than we really are, and can become strangers, visually, to those who knew us as children.

I got tall fast, and Michael didn't. And as the girls were so violent in my old neighborhood, it was an imperative for me to get with the right crowd, lest I get physically attacked, which could happen to anyone at any time for no reason at all.

Things began to get dark, and quickly, and not longer after, we both moved. I don't even remember saying goodbye.

Over the years, I would hear about him through the grapevine (our moms kept in sporadic touch)--that he'd gotten married, that he'd had kids, that his dad had died--and I could feel haunted by the thought of him, a feeling that I would just cast aside as there was nothing to be done with it.

But now here he is again. My excitment is so overwhelming that I feel almost numb, strangely enough.

Just three more hours to go...

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