Sorry for hijacking, Asimovian, but gotta give an update.
I don’t know if “kept in touch” is accurate… in fact it really isn’t. We did find each other on Facebook and in the summer of ‘13 he came out to Oregon to visit. We arranged to all catch up so Michael, his wife, Susan, her husband, and my wife and I all went to dinner and had a long, wonderful visit.
Michael is a tenure-track professor at a university in Maryland. After getting his MFA he spent several years in China teaching saxophone. It was there that he met his wife, who now has her Ph.D as well and teaches music at the same university he does. They had spent some time apart finishing their respective degrees after he returned stateside, but now live as normal middle-class family.
I never did come out and ask point-blank why his family was always so vague when I happened to run into them and, naturally, ask about Michael. However, I did find Michelle on Facebook some years ago and asked her about it and she said basically the same thing he did in 2011: that they had minimal contact with him when he was in China but assumed he was safe and, lacking any further information, decided to not talk about it. It turns out Susan and her husband visited him in China at least twice, and Michael showed me the pics to prove it. I’m still not sure exactly why they didn’t tell me, but whatever. I didn’t and won’t press it.
I never did fly out, and likely won’t anytime soon. I was late to the whole school thing and, God willing, will be finishing my undergrad this June and then going to grad school. I’ll have neither the time or, more significantly, the money to go visit. But I visit his school’s webpage every now and then to see what he’s up to and we comment here and there on each other’s FB posts. So not staying in touch, really, but not being total strangers either. I guess we just have our own lives now.
Surprisingly, I’m ok with that. He’s happy and safe and successful. I couldn’t ask for more.
Michelle is a teacher as well, at the grade school level. My goal is to return to a community college and teach, giving others the benefits that I had as a struggling adult returing to school in his 30’s.
Susan, who was a veterinarian before becoming a stay-at-home, in many ways raised me. I’m not sure what significance it has but, if my goals are met, the three children she had the most influence on will have grown up to be teachers.
Susan also introduced me to the Straight Dope, back when there were just a couple books in print. Those essays taught me how to write, and I have spent the past several years as college-level writing tutor and freelancer.
Absolutely amazing the influence she and her whole family has had on me.
And as an aside, I found a YouTube video of Michael doing what he does best (Michael was a childhood nickname).
[/Hijack over, carry on]