We met in 1989, in Algebra III—that was the class for the cowards who didn’t want to take pre-calc—and quickly realized we were both in the same choir. In fact, that year, we had three classes together. In Algebra, he sat in front of me, and at first, I was smitten. My 16 year-old self thought he was the most perfect creature to ever cross my path. That week, at least. I was a bit flighty with boys in my younger days.
And after that week of smit ended, we became honest-to-goodness, tried and true friends. Well, the tried and true didn’t happen until later, but you get the idea. He has a way of bringing people in, making them feel like they are the most important person in the room. He hasn’t changed in that regard.
My favorite story to tell about him is from our senior year. No, not the time where we went for weeks without speaking, for a reason I can’t remember right now. The story I love to tell happened in the first couple weeks of our senior year. An acquaintance from my drama class rushed in and said, “Julie! I am so sorry! I don’t want to be the one to tell you, but I just saw Mike with another girl, and I’m pretty sure they’re dating. So I yelled at him for you, because I cannot believe anyone would cheat on you.”
It took me a second to process what she was saying, because my boyfriend’s name was Chad, not Mike, and I knew Mike had a girlfriend. My confusion must have been all over my face because then she said, “You ARE dating him, right?”
I shook my head slowly and said, “No…” and then she was the one with the confused expression on her face. She had seen Mike and me in various casual situations, and just assumed we were dating, because of how well we got along. Considering the typical angst present in teen relationships, our “getting along” probably should have hinted that we weren’t dating, but whatever.
Mike and I haven’t lived in the same state since we graduated from high school, but somehow, miraculously, we are still good friends. No, great friends. He has pieced together my broken heart more times than I can count. He called me the day he bought his wife’s engagement ring. When he got married, he asked me to read a poem at the ceremony. And even though we might go a couple of months in between phone calls, when we do make time to talk, like we did on Sunday afternoon, he says things like, “You are part of my family.”
In all my years of moving around, I never thought I’d be able to say that I’d been friends with someone for 19 years. How lucky am I?