|5th grade Odyssey of the Mind|
I shared this as I opened: Dan gave me the laptop that I'm typing on now with one instruction... "Write your damn book."
Well, that's daunting.
Even for someone who loves writing... and who often feels like there is a story in there somewhere... the first step of writing a book is paralyzing.
So eventually, I wrote what I know.
I wrote about Michael.
And to this day, that's the only chapter I've written ...
I shared a bit of my relationship with him yesterday, but there is so much more to tell. I walked away from the microphone- overwhelmed with emotion and love for my buddy- and realized I left so many things out. Rather than jump up and say "OH WAIT! I FORGOT....", I decided to share some of that here. For the rest of it, you'll have to buy my damn book.
Michael and I met in the late 70's at Hominy Baptist Church- either in preschool or in Sunday School. We remained friends for all of the years after- even in the times that we argued. #Mistyliker Michael was, however, the only person I ever hit. (Other than my brother, of course.) In seventh grade he said something to me worthy of being hit- and when I went to hit him, he let me. He knew he was in the wrong, so he stood still and "took it". And when the teacher responsible for us asked what happened, he quickly said "Nothing."
In 12th grade, we had the privilege of registering to vote in our school cafeteria. Michael said to me before we went in, "I might as well fill out your card for you... you're going to be a Republican, right?" I'm guessing he assumed that because I spent more time in Bible Study than in Bent Creek, I would align with the Religious Right. Whether to prove a point to him or not, I was pleased to check DEMOCRAT on my card. And even though my Momma told me politics were private, I immediately went to tell Michael that his guess was wrong and I was not a Republican.
Along those same lines, he constantly was unimpressed with my music variety. He rolled his eyes at my love of Amy Grant and 4Him, and rather than just harass me, he put into my hands new music. I have a tape he made for me with Red Hot Chili Peppers on one side and Soup Dragons on the other. I kept it for his handwriting- my cassette player long gone. That was the first "mix tape" he made me... and why I wrote a RHCP shirt yesterday. He opened my eyes to music beyond my own preferences- some bands I loved and some I didn't- and I'm grateful that like so many of you, he educated me. And constantly encouraged me to go see live shows.
One day, someone brought acid to school. It was the first time I'd ever seen it- and I was surprised at how pretty it was. I said "If I could afford that, I'd wallpaper my house with it." Michael said (without skipping a beat) "And I would come and lick your walls." (#justsayno)
Michael was so fun to be around. His laugh was infectious. His smile was radiant. And he never smiled bigger than when he was talking about his kids. After the football game we saw during our 20th Reunion Weekend, Michael drove me and Emily back to her car. First, he took Trenton to a youth group activity. When we dropped him at the church, Michael said "Can you believe my son is going to a church thing instead of a bonfire? I'm so proud of who he is. He's a much cooler kid than I ever was." And that says a lot, because Michael was the coolest kid I knew. He raved about Savannah's artistic side. Every time he mentioned her, he'd say to me "You would love her." I do, Michael, I do.
So many more stories. Hours of stories- only about Michael. Many people told me yesterday that maybe he should be the focus of my whole book- not just a chapter. I got offers for "guest authors" helping write it. There's something that makes my heart smile to think of that... the story of Michael. The story of us.
Let's write it together, friends.