Let me tell you a story

The year was 1978 and I was 8 years old at the time. It was a warm summer evening. The days didn’t grow dark until late. All us kids were in shorts and little else. All us kids really means all the kids from 21st and Powell, the east side of 21st and Powell to be more specific. There was myself and my brother Linus, who likes to be called Lenny, and Steve, another 21st & Poweller, (yes I just made up that word). At least that is all I can remember being who had been on the sidewalk playing around when a couple of girls came up to us. “Hey”, says the older girl. She had dark hair and was fair complected. Her younger sister had long really dark hair I would almost describe as being in locks. “Hey” says us three kids. The two girls were probably about 8 or 9 and about 4 as near I can tell. “I’m Steve, who are you and your little sister?” Steve asked in the subtle ways kids ask anything. “I’m Misti, but that’s my little brother Micah, not my sister. Micah, show’em your pickle.” Micah then proceeded to pull out his penis, to show that in fact he was a boy. That is the story of how we met Micah Amrine.

From an early age, the four of us, Lenny, Micah, Steve and myself hung out. We all went to the same school but as it happened, all of us were in different grades. At that age and at Brooklyn Elementary School, that meant we were all in different classes and rarely saw each other during the day unless it was recess or lunch break. I don’t remember much time with Micah or Lenny during school, mostly after school which meant go play outside with all the other kids that lived on our street. We did just that. There were games of freeze-tag and red-light green-light. We built forts with the plastic carton crate things that were from the Tasty Freeze building across the street. Life was good.

As we got older, and as you might imagine, some of us moved away. We always found our way back to one another however. For the next several years during middle school (yuck) we saw less of each other. High school came around and we all started to see each other more, confined less and less by our parents living situations. As Steve and I graduated and Lenny and Micah became of an age (18) we all started hanging out more once again. Steve and I had cars and I had my own apartment.

I can remember one time when Lenny, Micah, our buddy Tom, myself and another person that was a friend of Steve’s went camping up on Mt. Hood at Timothy Lake. I remember this because our neighbors in the spot next to ours thought Tom was John Candy, Micah was Mrs. John Candy (’cause he still had long hair) and that Lenny was their child. It was the funniest thing ever. We got a lot of mileage out of that, believe me.

I can remember playing D&D at times but eventually Magic the Gathering became our game of choice.

As we got even older and Lenny and Micah joined the workforce, getting together was less often but when we did get together, someone usually had money. Life seemed pretty typical to me of what young folk did.

I can remember when Lenny had turned 22, which also means that Micah’s birthday was the very next day (and 364 days older than Lenny), we all thought it would be cool to go the a gun range (The Place to Shoot as I recall). Tom (John Candy from earlier), Micah, Lenny and I went to shoot a bunch of paper, that had for all intense purposes, had done nothing to warrant such violence. I can remember that after trying a few different hand guns, Micah tried out The Desert Eagle. The bloody thing was as big as his forearm and how he could grab it one-handed, I could not tell you. The moment he fired it for the first time, he started to laugh maniacally. There was virtually no kick to the gun.

It also must be said that as we went in, we were telling each other how to hold the weapons to fire them off, one hand holding the gun and the other hand to support it from underneath. There were a couple reasons for this. The first being that it’s more accurate. The second thing being that if you hold the gun with both hand wrapped around it, you might be loosey-goosey with your thumb and have it sticking up. With a weapon say like a 45 or 9mm, the slide comes back to discharge the empty bullet casing and load a new round. It does this very quickly and with some force. It of course happened to be that Micah forgot this rule and got his thumb smacked from the slide.

The following year we all decided it was so much fun the year previous that we should go again. This sounded like a great plan up. We even mentioned how funny it was the previous year that Micah got his thumb slammed and not to do it again. Guess what? Yes, he absolutely got his thumb slammed by the slide. Needless to say that was the last time we went back. Somethings you have to trust aren’t in your wheelhouse.

That seemed to be a theme of Micah’s throughout our younger years. He was a bit of a klutz. Not to say that I didn’t break a few bones in my time though. I remember a time when we all decided roller blades were super cool and went out roller-blading up to 21st Taylor, back when I had my own apartment on 11th Taylor. No problem getting up the incline to 21st. No no, the problem came when we started back down the road to my place. Micah had neglected to say he didn’t know how to stop. Needless to say Micah figured out a sure fire way to stop. Run into the back of a parked car. Does the trick every time.

Our younger lives were filled with happiness and sadness both. We all fought and made up, fought and made up. At a certain point though, sometimes making up isn’t so easy.  Words are exchanged. Feeling are hurt. People move on. Your viewpoints on things change or someone else’s does and getting together ceases altogether. The common things that kept you together for years now is no longer enough…

I lost track of Micah about 10-15 years ago. Holy shit, when you say it like that, it really says something. Maybe we weren’t really friends anymore. Maybe we had just moved on. One thing is for certain however, at least in my mind. Time seems to have sped forward at more than the universal constant of one second per second. How does 10-15 years go by without being in touch with the people you grew up with, know and care about? I am left wondering this question over and over. How do you let so much time go by without seeing those people that are meaningful to you? I had to really examine that question. I think, for me anyway, that people gravitate towards people like themselves, in some ways at least. Similar social elevations, certain financial achievements, certain political beliefs, certain religious beliefs, the consumption of…the drinking of…. It all comes into play. As we experience life, we form our own belief system based on our own values rather than those that are thrust upon us as just being apart of a family. Whether that family is of blood or friendship.

For my part, I never really felt terribly comfortable with being around the consumption of cannabis. I think that showed very clearly and thus I was too much of a tight-ass. It’s true. I kind of poo-poo’ed the idea of using something to feel good. I understand a little better now-a-days that it’s perfectly okay to get a little help when needed to get to a better frame of mind and sometimes body.

I believe that was in part the reason why Micah and I drifted apart. I felt awkward around many of the people that were in his circle of friends. Who wants to invite the awkward guy to a party, right?  Maybe it has nothing to do with that at all, I will never get the opportunity to find out.

A couple of weeks ago This past weekend I received a call from my brother telling me that Micah had passed away. The official cause was Stroke. It happens that Micah was hypertensive and suffered with depression. Things that can be properly treated with healthcare. Not something that as a community we do well at providing for those who really need it and cannot cover the cost.

Once again I am left feeling this great sense of loss for something I hadn’t had for more than 10 years. Does that even make sense? Short answer, hell yes! We may no longer have hung out or did many things together any more. But at least there was always the opportunity for reconciliation. Time to see each other as how we are now. To smile and acknowledge we each took our own path and we made it out the other side.

That time has now slipped by.

This past weekend I did get together for a celebration of life for Micah. I was met by Steve, Tom (john Candy) and Floyd. We spent the service exchanging stories of Micah or growing up where we did. Lots of reminiscing was had by all. It was emotional and raw and very touching. Even though I had not prepared anything to talk about, I got up in front of mostly people I didn’t know and spoke from the heart. It was cathartic and surreal. Afterwards some of us met up and the Ambassador on Sandy (in Portland Oregon) to have Chinese food, a few drinks and a whole lot of karaoke.

I think what I got out of this experience was that even though I had spent time with Micah for 30 years as a child, teen and young adult. I never really got to see Micah as an adult making his choices and being the sort of person he really was. I will forever be grateful for the many people that spoke at Micah’s Celebration of Life service for filling me in on the last 10 years of his life.

From all accounts Micah was generous. Not in the sense that you and I might define generous with money and finances, but with time and kind spirit. Micah gave his time to those that needed it and was there for those who really needed something that he could provide. Several people spoke about how he would drop everything to come over to cheer them up or that he just made them feel special when they needed it.

Even though I didn’t really experience being around Micah during his last decade of life, I feel like I know him a little better than I did before.

I will close with this; “Micah, for a guy who was picked on as much as you were in our group of knuckle-heads, we still loved you and I personally enjoyed your unique self for as long as your time allowed. I am honored to have known you and feel blessed to apart of your life.

Peace be with you…

More to come…


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