I've been thinking a lot recently about an old, long gone friend of mine, Michael Current, and how much I wish he was still around today, and how excited he would be by the state of issues he cared about.
I don't have any pictures of Michael, save for those which live on in my brain, but I think I can describe him so that you'll get the general idea of what Michael was like.
I met Michael when we were both working for Paul Simon's presidential campaign in 1986/87. We were roommates for the entire time we worked together. Michael was tall, thin, and almost always laughing. He had bright, piercing, deepset eyes -- very expressive...full of fire. He was an idealist, and he was smart. Really, really smart.
Michael was the biggest sissy and also one of the biggest hypochondriacs I ever met. I'm not saying he didn't have real physical ailments -- he did -- but he traveled with an old-lady Samsonite make-up bag full of medicines and other cures. If you had a sinus headache, Michael could diagnose and provide. If you had a migraine, he just might have a couple of Darvocets or a Caffergot. I seem to recall, after checking into the only hotel in a small town, him pressing 2 Valium into my hand and saying they would make the roaches less scary. Which they did.
When the Simon campaign ended, he went home to Iowa and I went home to Springfield, Illinois. We talked rather frequently on the phone. I loved picking up the phone and hearing his voice -- I knew that I'd be laughing non-stop for the next half hour.
Michael was a very visible face in the struggle for Gay & Lesbian civil rights in Iowa. He was a gay rights advocate before being a gay rights advocate was cool. He lobbied tirelessly for gay rights -- he was three feet smarter than any legislator he ever encountered and I know that even people who didn't agree with him had to admire his intellect.
He believed in love desperately. Not just that torrid, sweaty sheet love. He love his friends fiercely and was tremendously loyal.
One day in 1994 his calls stopped. I tried calling, but his phone was disconnected and no forwarding information was available. I missed him something fierce. He was such a wonderful friend.
I never stopped thinking about him or missing him or looking for him, and finally, in 2002 or so, I had free access for a day to a Lexis database, so I typed in his name, and I found him. Or at least his obituary. He had died, just about the time I lost track of him, of complications of diabetes.
I miss him. He was a spectacular friend. He made the world a better place. What a loss to the world. He was a world-changer. I hope that Michael -- wherever his energy has taken him -- can sense my love, respect, and grief. And, wherever you are, Michael -- save a Valium for me!