I met Mike at a party when I was fourteen, both of us stoned and pretentious and a little fucked up, and for some inexplicable reason we hit it off instantly and stayed best friends for ten years.
Mike had curly brown hair and a nose ring and he smoked Player’s Light cigarettes and wore striped polyester pants. I have an Indian cotton shirt he used to like wearing in a box in my bedroom closet. For a long time, it still smelled like him.
We spent hours talking on the phone at our parents’ houses, me curled around the telephone table in our downstairs hallway and him sprawled out on the carpet in their basement rec room. When we burst out laughing even though we were trying to be quiet our parents would yell at us to go to bed, but we never did.
On Wednesdays, we would drop acid and go out dancing all night. Once, we climbed onto the roof of Toronto City Hall in the middle of a snowstorm and looked out at the muted city, me right at the edge and him three steps behind, and he said that I was beautiful and I actually believed him.
When I broke up with Mark and couldn’t stop crying, he didn’t say anything at all. Instead, he made me lie down on my futon on my stomach and gave me a long, slow massage and kept his hands on me until I felt loved again.
We would talk about going to university and imagined ourselves becoming great intellectuals and seeing our names in footnotes instead of lights. Then we would argue about love because he didn’t believe in it and I did in my way and we’d try to convince each other until we both got bored and talked about books instead.
When I started seeing the Ex I asked Mike what he thought and he said that he liked him and that he thought he was good for me. And I was glad because it could never, ever have worked if Mike didn’t approve.
When he went out hitchhiking he would steal people’s calling cards and call me from truckstops between small American towns and tell me all about where he had been and what he did there. Except for the time he got raped, when he just cried for a long time as the trucks drove past.
By the time he moved to Vancouver, he was a junkie but tried to pretend that he wasn’t. He ODed a couple of times and would laugh about it, like he was just trying to freak everybody out. Then he started stealing stuff from people he knew and it wasn't funny at all.
The last time he called he was so happy that he kept giggling and then he told me he was in love for the first time and that he was gonna get clean and go back to school to study anthropology and that I could come stay with him and his boyfriend at their warehouse and that he would make us both pancakes in the morning. And I giggled too and told him that of course I had been right all along and that I expected to be served my pancakes in bed.
Then he ODed again and was placed on life support and his parents flew out to B.C. and the doctors told them his brain was dead and three days later Allison called and said, “I’m sorry hon, he’s gone.” And his brother asked me to call his friends because I was closer to him than anyone so I called thirty people to tell them and they all cried but I never did not even at the funeral or when everyone got drunk afterward because all I could feel was rage and alone.
Now it’s ten years later and it’s his birthday soon and he would be thirty-five except that he’s been dead for as long as we were friends. But I still love him and miss him and wish he would call, so that at least I could tell him I’m not angry anymore.