Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Mare visits; guilty pleasures

My mom responded to my request for her side of the walking to school in the sleet story, and this is what she had to say:

"i honestly don't remember the incident. i may have been so angry that i have blocked it out of my conscious memory. it had to have happened in the first grade though."

Hmmm. Right-o. Onward.

Mare came yesterday. It was great to see her. She's always been athletic and shiny, and now that she's a California girl (has been for some 10 years now I guess...) she looks radiant. She's expecting her third child, and simply looks fab. It was so great to have her to myself for a few hours. We went to Newburyport, had lunch, walked around, bought CDs, went to an Indian clothing/art store (India Indian, not native American) and talked extensively about where people are and who we'd love to find again from high school.

It was a great time, and I so enjoyed it.

We spent a lot of time talking about how neither of us were really close to the one guy from our class who died in the WTC... she couldn't remember at all what he looked like, whereas I remembered what he looked like because he was in my homeroom from 7th-12th grade. We also talked extensively about a friend of ours who was killed in a car accident our senior year.

It was the week of graduation, and he went to another school. He and two other friends were out on a bagel run in the morning, and got hit head on by someone who lost control speeding around a turn. Mike and his passenger Paul were killed.

Mike was a great guy, and Mare dated him for a long time... still had a strong connection to him, even though he was dating someone else. Over the years, Mike's mom has kept in close contact with Mare. She hears from them three or four times a year. I thought that was so sweet... that as a mom, she kept the ties with those kids closest to her son at the time of his death. Kind of a living vicariously... knowing where the kids ended up after youthgroup and college perhaps gives her a sense of where Mike may have ended up. Everyone is grown up and married and successful... and he would have been too, no doubt.

I remember the day he died as clearly as if it was yesterday. No joke. It was the last week of school, we were all sitting outside the band room door hanging out in the hall because seniors weren't practicing "Pomp and Circumstance" for commencement. A friend of mine from Mike's school named Willem came down the hall to find me.

What the heck is he doing here in my school -- he goes to Cold Spring? I jumped up to give him a hug. I was simply mad about Willem. Totally adored the boy. He had a girlfriend who was in our school and in like 10th grade (she was a doofus, I hated her, of course, and I never could understand WHAT the deal was that he was dating HER... but that's another story), and he gave me a big hug and held me back a little bit away from him so he could look me in the eyes.

His face is frozen in time to me, I can remember how hot it was in that hall, the brick hallway wall behind his head, and I can smell him, hot from walking around the school looking for me. His eyes are so blue, his hair kind of loose curls but short around his head, his mouth parted open gently as he is about to tell me Mike died that morning. I think Willem was his class' president, and felt incredibly wounded by this loss, but deep inside he knew that those of us involved with him through the youth group were going to feel it harder, so he made a point to come to us to tell us himself.

I don't remember much past his face. I remember falling into the music department office wailing and crying. I remember Mare's younger sister Amy standing in the hall with me, she couldn't even look me in the eye and she told me that Mare left school early rather than hang out (Mare was in band too), so there was no way for her to know yet. Amy told me there was no way she was going to be able to even TELL Mare what happened.

I made my mom take me out of the school, and go find Mare.

We called her house, she wasn't there... we found out she'd gone for a bike ride. Not your garden variety bike ride either... a real bike ride. So we drove around Huntington looking for her.

We found her in the Mill Dam area, not too far from the house where I lived when I missed the bus, on Rte 110 near the Sammis real estate office, the building was a colonial style house, red with dark trim. Burned into my memory... I can see it behind her where I have her by the shoulders and am telling her on the side of the road that Mike is dead.

She hugs me, is completely disturbed but holding it together, and gets on her bike and rides off.

The next few days are a blur. Paul Kelly took me to the funeral but we didn't go to the cemetery. I remember talking to Mike's mom after the funeral/memorial service, which was held in the church auditorium because the amount of people could never fit in the church. She was beautiful and gracious, and thanked all of us for being her son's friend... And that's that. Gone.

It still makes me sad that I told Mare on the side of the road instead of waiting on her porch. But I knew Amy couldn't do it. I knew I could barely... so I had to get it over with.

Mike's dad wrote a book a few years back about the Trappist monasteries across the country, examining the sociology of monastic life. Sounds kind of boring, but keep in mind NO ONE has ever been allowed to live for a period of time in a Trappist monastery without enrolling, and with the intent of writing an examination of their life.

Remarkably, or perhaps divinely intended, he was able to reconnect with God, find healing for himself in regards to the loss of Mike, and came through the other end not only with a clear sense of the monastic rites but of his place with God... Mare told me about the book and how she read it a few years back, and found it to be an amazingly moving piece. I may just have to pick it up myself. I think about Mike a lot. Probably more than I should.

Oy. So anyway... visiting with her and finding out about Mike's parents and how they are doing made me smile deep and big. Long and hard.

Confession Time
I admit in life I have very few vices. Being a lazy ass is one of them. But another is TV. There are things that I watch on TV that most people would laugh at me for. And one of these "guilty pleasures" as it were is The Real World...

You know The Real World... that ridiculous show where they manufacture an environment, pick seven or eight people who are not going to mix well on the surface level, throw them in a house, give them a task, employment or something they need to complete, and then watch the chemistry develop into a huge volatile mixture of hormones, attitudes and immaturity. Out the other end of this oven comes a batch of freshly baked, newly educated young adults who are now wise, intelligent, and full of acceptance of others... and themselves. sniff.

I got hooked on this show when they were in Boston. I was interested to see views of the city, where these people were going ... what they were seeing. I know that while the "cast" is living somewhere the show does a good job of keeping them protected, there are also events that are planned around the cast. A local radio station would have Sean and Montana on once in a while, and there'd be a real world party at some bar on Lansdowne St., and people would get into it.

But I normally wouldn't ever really WATCH the show like one watches a show. They would hook me in with the Real World Marathons... where they'd show the whole damn season episode after episode. I'd catch a minute and there'd be Genesis and Sean fighting and screaming at each other and I'd say ..... ooooooo. what happens next?

So I get totally sucked in.

There are a few years I didn't watch any episodes, even if they did a marathon... the first year in NY I thought it was stupid and contrived, although it was probably the most honest of the shows because there wasn't a 6 million dollar budget for housing decor... it was a normal looking apartment in Manhattan. As the years went on they took great pains into creating these incredible living spaces (hello? Hawaii!!!??? did you see that friggin house!?) and this year is no exception. The house in Chicago is unbelievable, to be polite.

It isn't the real world at all. Give the next cast some cinderblock bookshelves, some fucking milk crates and a big board and an egg crate mattress -- that is real. That's what kids their age should have for housing. Forget the Jacuzzi and fucking POOL tables! Jeeesh.

Okay. I digress. I love the drama, I love watching the redneck from Ohio learn not to call black Americans "Niggers," especially to their faces. I love to watch the militant Muslim streetwise loud and bossy bitch get knocked down a notch or two... I love to watch the gay guy try and keep that secret for a while because he doesn't want to be judged by his sexuality, he wants to be accepted as a person first. I love the girls who just don't give a damn about modesty, and who are completely comfortable with their bodies (or have serious issues with needing to be accepted or loved so they have to bare all). I love the fights, the tears, the jobs they get, the changes, the growth, the photography. I love this show.

I missed episode two of the Chicago (year 11?) one that is on right now. But I don't think it matters.

I think if you have to ask me what is my favorite year... It might be the Boston year, but then again, it might be New Orleans... It might be this past year in New York. I liked how the people learned and grew there. I loved Mallik, the black guy with the big 'fro. I loved his smile, and how gentle and sweet and polite and loving he was to the redneck from Ohio, Mike. He (Mallik) taught Mike more about friendship -- not even black guy friendship -- than I think Mike had ever learned. And I thought that was one of the sweetest things anyone could ever do.


Anyway. I have to run through Monster.com and look for a job. I have to send a follow up email to the people I interviewed with last week. I should contact a few professors I know at the college who may have some grant money to do webpages with. I need to start cleaning my bedroom, and look into what to do with Geoff's wall where he ripped off the wallpaper. I may paint it solid blue and leave the other three walls the way they are. A solid blue background with shelving going the whole way up the wall... he needs some serious shelving in there. I need to get him a bed too. He's got a mattress, but needs a bed frame. I bet I can find one in the local want ads.

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