I be a good righter.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Off Topic At The Five And Dime.

Back when I was 17, before I moved back to Minneapolis, I was living in Salt Lake City. I was just out of high school, and was spending my days working at a B Dalton, hanging at a coffee shop called Bandaloops, and generally trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life.

One night at Bandaloops, I met a guy named Chris. We hung out, drank coffee, and generally hit it off. He was at a similar crossroads in his life. I had my eye on moving back to MN. And I was always honest about that. So, perhaps I kept myself somewhat closed off to any potential we might have had. We ended up dating for about a year. He loved me as genuinely and honestly as any man has in my life.

He still lived with his parents. They were older than most folks, as Chris was a bit of a surprise. His mother was a sweet, loving woman who loved his father with the same honesty that Chris loved me. His father, Mike, was... troubled. I'm not sure what was wrong with him, but he had a slew of medications that his wife made sure he took throughout the day. Mike spent most days in a ratty velour bathrobe, sitting on his easy chair, listening to records.

One time, he put on a song by Nancy Griffith. And went back to his chair and listened. It evoked some memory and he sat there sobbing silently. I held his hand. He seemed appreciative and held mine back. The song ended, and he put on something else. I don't remember what. To this day, every time I hear this song (not often), I think of it as Mike's song.

Today, I was sitting at the top of Laurel Canyon, stuck at a red light. And Mike's song came on my iPod. I didn't even know I owned it. And I sat there, a tad misty-eyed, thinking about Mike. This memory of him front and center. And I thought that I was not unlike Mike, those years ago.

I broke up with Chris before I moved back to MN. A few years later, when I went back to SLC for a visit, I ended up at Chris' old work. He was there, still working the same job. I realized that if I'd stayed... I wouldn't have moved forward with my life. Chris and I grabbed a coffee, and I apologized for being with him when I knew I was going to leave him. Turns out, he'd met a woman soon after I moved. They were engaged. I was genuinely happy for him, and was able to leave SLC without regret. At that time, Mike was still alive.

Occasionally I think about Chris and hope he's happy. Today, I really hope that wherever Mike is, that he's got his robe and his Nancy Griffith album.

Here's to you, Mike!