One evening, I got into what I like to call The Facebook Spiral.
It starts with something simple: Maybe someone shares an old photo of you. Before you know it, four hours have gone by and you’re looking at photos from 2004, wondering where all the time has gone.
Said evening, I got as far as 2008, looking at a photo of me wearing dark boot-cut jeans and rubber flip-flops: my days as a “model” for Abercrombie & Fitch in Iowa. I took it all in: my bright, tan skin, my healthy brown hair, my careless smile. I thought about that boy, who had no idea he’d someday be me—that boy who had no idea the boys he dated would all become material for this column.
And then I started thinking about those boys, and I remembered one of my failed romantic endeavors: Mike.
Mike lived five minutes away from the mall I worked at. We met the summer before I went to college. “I don’t really like the moose,” he told me, “but I wanted to come in and talk to you.” Mike was mature and handsome, mid-30s, with jet black hair and just the right amount of scruff, and lived alone. Just the kind of man I wanted.
We never made it on an actual date. He was sly like that: He always found a good excuse for me to just come over to his house. And I always did, happy to spend time with him—even if it was just to let him ravage me before driving home. When I went off to college, and wasn’t around to fuck, we lost contact with each other.
Wondering what he was up to, I typed his name into the Facebook search bar. There he was, with the same profile photo he used all those years ago.
I noticed it immediately when his profile loaded, right under his photo, the word “Remembering.” I froze, staring at the word, trying to make sense of it. What a strange time we live in, when our Facebook profile lives on long after we do.
I took a deep breath and started scrolling through the comments on his wall. I found a link to his obituary: He died September 2014. After 30 minutes or so of reading far-too-personal public comments from friends and family, I read that he’d committed suicide.
It’s a weird feeling, finding out someone you once knew is gone, finding out that they’ve been gone for years and you had no idea.
I remember Mike, so mysterious—I never found out exactly what he did for a living, or if he talked to his family, or if he’d ever been in love. Maybe he never revealed himself to anyone.
I remember myself, that summer, trying to convince him to love me. I remember how easily I moved on when he didn’t.
I try to wrap my columns up with a point. I’m not sure this one has one. And I’m not really sure what else to say.