My secret caller ended up being one of my longest standing and long-lost friends.
Mike and I had known each other since the first day of kindergarten. We went to elementary, middle, and high school together. We ran with different crowds, but our groups intermingled at social events. Mike and I became close when he started dating a good friend of mine (while we were in high school). We spent loads of time together and, even after their relationship dissolved, we stayed close until the fall I left for college. Here’s our story:
Mike came to visit me at school before leaving for the Air Force. His time with me at the university was jammed full of visits to mutual friends and heart-felt goodbyes. We went to a concert, boozed with buddies, and laughed at memories of our childhood misadventures. It was a great weekend.
Sunday came around and it was time for Mike to leave. After lunch, he’d head home (before flying across the country to start Basic Training) and I’d get back to life as usual. I had just met a guy (who later became my college boyfriend of three years) the week earlier and we’d shared our first date two days before Mike arrived. He knew I was excited about my date. I hadn’t stopped talking about it since he arrived. Mike had a ‘buddy’ back home. Nothing serious. Still, we talked about everything, so I got the dirt on this chick too.
We pulled up to my dorm as it was time to say goodbye. Truth be told, I’m terrible with goodbyes. What do you say to someone whose life is headed in a completely different direction than your own? After sitting in an awkward silence, Mike was the first of us to speak.
Mike: “You’re special, Sarafina. Do you know that?”
Me: “Ha. A horse of a different color, eh?”
Mike: “No. I really mean that. Thanks for being an amazing friend.”
Me: “Thanks, Michael. You need to let me know how it is in Cali. I’ve never been.”
Mike: “Fina, what if I said I wanted to keep in touch while I’m gone?”
Me: “No problem. We have MySpace! I’ll email a lot. Did you think we were just going to stop talking?”
Mike (clearly becoming frustrated): “What if I came home to visit as soon as possible? Well…what if?…What if I said I’d do that for you?”
Me (confused): “What’s going on right now?”
Mike: “I love you, Fina”
Me (oblivious): “Duh. I love you too!”
Mike: “No, not like a buddy. I’m in love with you.”
After telling him that his timing was terrible and I wasn’t ready for that sort of commitment, Mike left town. I can’t imagine what that drive must have been like. After thirteen years of friendship, he opened his heart to me even further than I’d known was possible. I must have looked like a total bitch when I blew him off.
We never discussed his feelings again.
Our lives went on. I graduated from college; he traveled the world, serving our country. In doing so, he married a girl he met while stationed in Korea. MySpace told me they moved to Hawaii. I emailed; he didn’t respond. I tried a few more times without reciprocation. Mike vanished.
So now he’s calling me again after five years of absence. Five years that I never dreamed would be so eventful…so full of pain. How could I ever explain to him the life that I led? I was working a job that meant nothing to me, I missed teaching, my love-life was a complete disaster, and I was getting ready to lose my house because it hadn’t sold yet.
After everything I’d been through, it was nice to hear his voice. In fact, it was so nice that none of those fears mattered. I was happy to have my old friend back on the phone. At one point in my life he was my rock. Maybe now we’d be able to rekindle our friendship.
It had been three days since I left Chicago. I still hadn’t heard from James. If I was going to keep hoping that men weren’t total pigs, maybe Michael would be the man to help me keep that faith alive.