[callout]So, obviously the above picture is not of Mike and me. I picked it because the guy with the orange cocktail captures the heart of Mike during our many outings.[/callout]
The house pictured to your right is one I lived in for about 18 months. I rented a couch, not a room, for $40 a week most of that time. I was there from the Spring of 1988 until the fall of 1989, and most of it was a blur.
I waited tables to earn enough money to party, partied till I was out of money, slept in someone else’s bed or on my $40 a week couch … mostly the couch, Then I would wake up in time to go back to waiting tables and repeat the cycle for a year and a half.
During this period I drank 5 out of 7 days a week, did more drugs than I ever thought possible. I was also involved in an abusive relationship with a guy who looked like Tom Selleck’s cousin.
It was at that time I did my share of terrible things to make ends meet, to get drugs … to be a part, to appease my partner … it was very dysfunctional.
My housemates were all gay. There was another waiter, for the sake of this post we will call Mike, who had hair that was a hybrid of Duran Duran and Flock of Seagulls. Mike liked to wear heels and sing loudly around the house. Then there was the cab driver who was the actual “landlord” of my couch. He was a conniving, manipulative ass, but left me alone for the most part. Especially after I refused to sleep with him. Then there was the guy in the basement apartment. He was in the process of leaving his wife, and I never talked to him … not once. My roommates said he was “confused” about his sexuality and mean. So I just steered clear. He had no wish to be around us either.
During that time I lost my car, had a stalker read poetry to me over the house phone after seeing me out at the bars. He did this quite a few times. No one knew who he was. I also nearly overdosed on prescription meds on a road trip to Louisville Kentucky. Got into a brawl with my abusive partner in Atlanta. I finally fought back, and it ended with him in the hospital and me sleeping on the floor in the ER hallway…and then on the floor in his room for a week … in the same clothes. He tried to punch me through a plate-glass window after I threw him out of our hotel room. The EMT’s were astounded that even in my substance abusing stupor I was able to do emergency first aid. My tourniquet and willingness to get in there to apply pressure at the right points saved his arm.
Traumatic to say the least.
Needless to say, our relationship changed when I finally fought back. We went and partied a couple of times but even then, I met him there and left without him. I recently found this guy on Facebook, and he is a shell of who he used to be. Tom Selleck aged well, his cousin not so well.
During that time, there was a Christian who tried to reach out to me, and I will save that for another post. But other than Bruce the Christian, there wasn’t a lot of religious influence in my life at that time.
Now, even with all that mess, I felt like I was free. In some ways, I was freer than I had ever been. After feeling shut down my whole life, not allowed to speak, not allowed to explore and discover, at least I finally had options. Didn’t know what they were or how to deal with them as a healthy mature adult 🙂 but it was more than I had before.
Back to Mike, the guy with the hybrid Duran Duran/Flock of Seagulls hair, he knew there was unrealized potential in me. He was hardly perfect and slept with a lot of guys, but he did have a selfless spirit and strong gift of encouragement.
Oh and he hated my abusive partner and told him never to step inside our house, or he would kick his a*. And he would have, too. His rift with my boyfriend was a sore spot for us, but in my heart, loved him for wanting to protect me.
Mike and I never slept together because right off the bat we were kindred spirits and would call each other “Sister.” When we were around each other, we were too busy laughing or arguing over Madonna’s ability to sing, to entertain any other thoughts.
This kind of friendship might be alien and offensive to some of my Christian brethren. If you are offended, I say this with genuine love from my heart, get over it. To have another person willing to claim me as a sibling, want to protect me, that was a new friendship experience for me. It brought a huge measure of joy to my heart. Mike was one of the first people I ever felt accepted by. I will always cherish my memories of him.
One night Mike and I went to a drag bar and the performers were running late for the show. As we were all taking our seats or standing around the stage, The DJ started playing the song “Sister” from the movie The Color Purple. Mike got up, grabbed my hands, and drug me up near the stage, and we did some pseudo-waltz while he sang the whole song, loudly, along with the music. I was mortified at first but just ended up laughing and laughing … and we spun and danced.
Mike saw himself as Shug (the very extroverted, no inhibitions, entertainer) and me as Celie (the abused shut down but innately beautiful heroine). As we spun around with him singing and me laughing so hard I was crying, the crowd cheered during the impromptu performance and wildly applauded once the song finished.
Of course, the Drag Queens made fun of us for stealing the show, but it was all rather crazy and at the time … I loved it.
Looking back on it now, I don’t recognize Mike’s shut down “Sister” that I used to be. I can’t believe I lived on a couch … a couch! … for that long. But when I look back and think of Mike, who I haven’t seen or heard from in 25 years, I smile. Yes, he was just a little less screwed up than I, but his caring heart was to defend those who don’t even know they have a voice. Mike’s protective heart to protect the weak, his ability to look past my insecurities and lovingly challenge them are expressions of some of the innate gifts God has placed within him. And, dare I say, very Jesus-like.
When I look at the photo of the house featured in this post, I can remember all the dysfunction and weirdness but more importantly remember Mike. I have no idea where he is at or what he believes today but if the Mike I knew were to show up at my door in his heels and big hair screaming “Sister!!!” I would give him a great big bear hug and say, “I’ve missed you so much Mike, we have a lot to catch up on… but let’s go dance first!”
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