Friend #193: Mike

Friend #193: Mike
Date and Location of Visit: Wednesday, October 26, 2011, Lavazza, Chicago, IL
Known from: VP Fair Band
Last seen: 1997ish?

So I’m about two months behind in updating on my visits, but here we go.  High school friend Mike and I met up for an afternoon cup of coffee in downtown Chicago.  Mike and I met in….wait for it….band!   We started playing together in a band that gathered students from area high schools for a 4th of July celebration in St. Louis under the Arch.  Mike played trumpet for another school in my district, so we continued to play in similar ensembles throughout high school, and we became pretty good friends.

I have to say that my visit with Mike was one of my most surprising visits.  In high school, I would have described Mike as confident, bordering on arrogant, sometimes a jerk.  But I also saw a kinder side of him when he was thoughtful and concerned about his friends.  I went into our visit with my guard up a bit, ready to banter back and forth.  But we sat down, and he was warm and kind and humble, and it was disarming, almost jarring to me.

After pursuing the arts in college, Mike landed in a career as a stock analyst for Morningstar, specializing in tech stocks.  In a career where expertise is based on conjecture and prediction, Mike’s confidence is key, but it also seems to have challenged him and humbled him.  So has fatherhood.  Mike’s daughter is growing up speaking Mandarin and English, which definitely keeps him on his toes.

I don’t typically “prepare” for these visits or go in with preconceived notions.  More often, I let the visit develop and form as it unfolds.  Having my guard up a bit made that difficult, mostly because I was deciding, based on experiences of Mike 15 years ago, what he was going to be like now.  It’s a pretty human impulse, I think, and if I want to keep being surprised, I should continue to make judgments in this way. But that’s probably not a good idea.  I’m glad I got the chance to sit down with Mike now and have some of those memories and notions overwritten by conversation and face-to-face interaction.  I went in expecting to be barraged with a list of Mike’s achievements, and what I got instead was a depth I wasn’t anticipating and a real sense of being known.  May we all not make the same mistakes and let our judgments interfere with our connections.

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