So I will admit to you all that I’ve been struggling. I’ve created and destroyed several versions of my interactions with Michael Alig.
I’m struggling because his is a story that could be told a million ways, and ultimately I’m left feeling trapped by the enormity of it all. I’ve been talking to Michael pretty much every day, over the past month, about his past, present and future, and one of my main problems is that we have a similar kind of dark humor that ends up feeling really icky when the context of his crime is constantly hovering like his personal albatross. White, huge, it's wingspan covers my eyes and plugs my ears and I cannot see my way around it. So I cut, and I re-insert, and I sit and stare at the window, wondering about what forgiveness means as a society.
According to our Judicial System he is a man absolved. He has done his time, he has been rehabilitated and the rest of us should view him as such. But he is a man marked forever by his past, and I've had a hard time climbing out from under the weight of his crime.
Does one crime overshadow all the good in your life? How long should someone be held accountable for a crime committed in their drug-soaked youth?
More importantly: How do you forgive yourself? How do you sleep at night when you've done a great wrong? Does it get duller every day...? After 20 years, how deeply does Michael’s crime still affect him?