August 18, 2006
My friend Mike
My friend Mike has passed away. You may have known him as the blogger Little Toy Robot, or LTR, as he signed himself in the comments. We met in grad school. He sat in the row behind me in our web design class and saw me working on my blog. He left me a comment, I realized I'd been discovered, and we've been friends ever since.
I was really excited when he moved down to Atlanta from New York. We got to know each other better and hung out together a lot. We'd all send each other emails to plan our next outing and the thread would drag on for at least 20 messages, easy. We often caught movies together with our friend Carol and met up regularly for brunch and other meals. Even if the movies were awful - the worst, by mutual agreement, was Van Helsing - it was always fun to hang out together. There was the night for the shift to Daylight Savings, which we celebrated by staying up late and getting "HOT NOW" doughnuts at the Krispy Kreme on Ponce.
I was looking forward to hyping up Snakes on a Plane with him. I hadn't seen him on IM in the past few days, which I thought was kind of weird. Even if we didn't always chat, it was nice to see his name on my buddy list. I was on IM with Carol. We wondered whether to get in touch with his family, when she got a call from Mike's dad. Moments later, when I saw Mike's name appear on my cellphone, I knew who would be on the other line.
Mike loved dairy products. He drank milk like it was water. But he was always good for a beer as well.
We spent Christmas Eve together his first year in Atlanta. We had seafood at Six Feet Under, sharing blackened alligator for the appetizer. After dinner we met up at Murphy's for coffee and dessert. It was one of the best holidays I have spent. I don't really make the distinction between friends and family. My friends are my family.
We were mutual media junkies, telling each other about the books we were reading and making music recommendations to each other. It was Mike who lent me his copy of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, a book I absolutely love. Some of our outings involved checking out a bookstore or a music shop or a record show. He was the one who told me where to find the new hardcover of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell back before the book was supposed to be available. We went together to see the author, Susanna Clarke, do a reading and a Q&A, as well as sign our books, over at the Margaret Mitchell House. Mike told me I should check out a band called The National, which I hadn't gotten around to yet. But I will. He also told me, right before I left for my trip to England, that the new album from The Long Winters was coming out, so I was looking forward to checking that out as well.
Mike moved up to Chicago late last summer. I was sorry to see him go, but happy for his new opportunities. I knew we'd see him again, because we tend to visit Chicago pretty regularly. But I still would miss having him practically right down the road. A bunch of us got together for a last hurrah before he left town. There were dinner and drinks at Manuel's, then we went over to his place in Virginia-Highland and stayed up really late, getting just a little more drunk and playing Apples to Apples.
We last got together in early January. We took the train into downtown Chicago, meeting him at his apartment building. We saw his place on the 48th floor and enjoyed the views. Went back out to get some dinner and catch a movie. Dinner was burgers at P.J. Clarke's. Afterwards, to kill time, we got some coffee & dessert at a nearby gourmet shop. Our movie choice was between Chronicles of Narnia and Match Point - afterwards we agreed we should have seen Match Point. We took a cab back to Mike's place, dropped him off, and took our train back to the suburbs.
For anyone who's finding out this way, I am sorry. Mike's dad - who sounds very much like him - gave me his cellphone number, so if you would like to reach the family, please send me an email.