a p p a r e n t l y

apparently.org

For Michael

When I first met Michael, he looked like a girl. We were 18, and he was playing Sebastian in a college production of Twelfth Night. His hair had been cut and highlighted to match the pixie ‘do of the woman playing Viola. That the two were a couple at the time made it all the more bizarre. This was just the first of the ridiculous juxtapositions that I would discover Michael consumed as a sort of alternative fuel.

michael mclaughlin

Joel, me, Michael in Norfolk MA, 1996

Our friendship was fast, strong and not unlike an onion. His first dorm room contained a giant inflatable snake; his last was a tiny, secluded haven imbued with a faint scent of Indian cigarettes.

After the diaspora of graduation, living in different states and time zones in the last decade before long-distance was essentially free, we turned to letters. Stacks of letters. He would mail multiple mismatched pages scrawled on the backs of old resumes and tiny fringed papers torn from spiral-bound notebooks. The pages would encompass several days, sometimes weeks, revealing out-and-about musings from the Hungarian Pastry Shop or a shaded bench in his hometown. The return addresses were often absurd: “Bureau of the Internal Revenue, Office 4.” His envelopes tied shut with string and paper buttons.

michael mclaughlin

Lauren, Michael, me, Deanna. August 2006

We etched a skewed parallelogram over the country: California, Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts. Whenever we were in the same state, which turned out to be surprisingly often, Michael and I would meet for dinner. We’d conjure up novel ways to hire each other for film projects and guest-artist lectures.

michael mclaughlin

Manhattan, 2006

Michael and I lived in Boston at the same time,¬†and then moved to New York at the same time. We held candles with his neighbors on September 12. He talked me into a trip to New York to perform in one of his puppet plays, long after I’d stopped performing. He always created the puppet costumes at the eleventh hour.

michael mclaughlin

Sunnyside, 2008

michael mclaughlin

Sunnyside, 2008

My neighborhood is something of a haven for our college crowd, and by the time he was to drown in Mexico two years ago, we had reduced our wingspan from two thousand miles to four blocks. He was one of the first people to hold my newborn son. We made fewer plans yet enjoyed more spontaneous cocktails.

michael mclaughlin

Michael filming Richard Serra, 2006

Two years, or twenty-three, have gone into writing this post. It’s just a snapshot; anything else I might like to say veers into territory too emotional or personal. But Michael is disappearing from the web, and I want him to have just a tiny place that is still google-able. He will always be right here.

michael mclaughlin

Dia: Beacon, 2006

michael mclaughlin

Dia: Beacon, 2006

Tags:

One Response to “For Michael”

  1. August 9th, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Tepary says:

    This is beautiful and I’m so so sorry. Thank you for sharing a little of Michael and of your friendship.