Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Mike's Story Part 66 - Leaving

By Jenna Orkin

   Saturday, January 26, 2008 
   If we’re going to go out or have another real conversation before he leaves, it’s got to be today.  Sunday night is Sixty Minutes and Monday night I work.
   I had to work this morning too but I’ve left the afternoon clear, turning down an opportunity to teach another class, in case Mike wants to have a "last supper" together or see a movie.
   I don’t raise the subject, however.  My purpose is not to go out per se; it’s cold and I’m tired.  I want to get a sense of where his mind is.
   He doesn’t mention anything but goes about his business, puttering between the TV in the bedroom and the kitchen, passing me at the computer without a word.
   At seven, he puts on his coat.
   “I need to get out.  I’m going to see what’s playing on Court Street.”
   And so he goes. 
   This confirms what I already know: To him, I am little more than a mirror that gives him back the image of a man who is accepted; a sounding board that responds with reasonable counsel.  Mirrors and sounding boards do what they do because it is their nature, their function in life.  They are not so needy nor so deserving of attention as he is.  They have not suffered as he has.  Or if they have, he doesn’t want to know about it for they are certainly not so interesting.
   Twenty minutes later he’s back.
   “There was nothing I wanted to see.”
   We watch On the Beach, the new one, which he says is crappy. 
   I agree.  I’m most put off by the omnipresent Waltzing Matilda theme that metamorphoses cornily according to the mood of the scene.
   But it’s hard to maintain one’s cynicism when the fate of the people in the movie so uncomfortably reflects where the real world is heading today, which is the reason he'd wanted us to watch it together.
   Towards the end, the young wife weeps at the imminent death of her family, including her young child, by radiation or preemptive pill.
   "Get over it, Bitch," says Mike.  Then, figuring I might not feel the same, he says, "Sorry."
   Tuesday morning
   The time has come. 
   “Whatever’s left in the closet, you can have.  I can’t fit anything else into this suitcase."
   He puts down his bags - the carry-on and the behemoth - to hug me.  “Good-bye, Moofie.”
   I cry, thank God.  
   “You saved my life.”  He cries also, redeeming himself for Saturday night.  For a few seconds we hold each other.
   “I’ve got to go.  This is hard enough.” 
   At some level too deep to do anyone any good, it almost seems true.     

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