They were all around. Familiar beings. Familiar conversations. Familiar laughs. I didn’t know how else to act and speak other than how I was familiar. Why should I change? It works, doesn’t it? I sometimes wonder what I would have to do to change how they see me. What would it take for me to jump into their minds and see the real them? What would it take to have easy access to their fears, comforts and desires? How can I unlock their true opinions and queasy hearts? The surface. I will only ever scratch the surface no matter what shovel, excavator, or steel drill I use.
There are topics of discussion where I am quiet and don’t participate. Topics that don’t include me. Topics that might bring fuzzy memories, sadness or exclude me altogether. Topics that I have no control over. Topics that must be changed or I will pull out my hair and scream. I am done listening. I am finished with your dumb-ass ideas and childlike thinking. You border stupid and selfish right now. You only look away. I am still sitting here. I am still part of this group.
So I speak. I speak the only way I can in order to acquire attention from these people. These people who seem to have no deep emotional understanding whatsoever. I also scratch the surface. Tit-for-tat. I make fun of it. I make them laugh with silly jokes. I make them understand that I don’t speak their whispered language. I become bold and outgoing. I switch it on when I can, and this is one of the few moments when it is possible. Just for them. I still don’t feel like we can ever be more than how stupid my jokes are.
I can’t trust them. I can’t trust them because they don’t trust me. I only receive second-hand information anyway. Why am I even a part of this? What is the purpose of knowing someone for so long if they have never confided in you? Who had ever told you a secret that made yourself feel less alone in the world? Gossip doesn’t count. Gossip is surface. Gossip is deja vu.
But I know them better. I know them to have always been this way. I know that even though the surface is all it is, it might be a blessing in disguise. I don’t need to worry about them. I don’t need to wonder if I hurt their feelings. I don’t need to feel bad for too long if they annoyed or hurt me in such a way. They will always be there. And even though they will not always be there for me, I know people who will. It’s not a loss as much as I think it is, but it’s also not a win. Instead, it’s a silence that befalls me. A spectator to their spectacle. One day I will be a part of it. One day my past with them won’t dictate my future with them. One day we will all be close but in a different way. Our futures bonded by hope, admiration and depth of understanding of one another, instead of ancient past encounters. A part of me fears that it won’t ever happen, but I choose the optimistic path.
She leaned against her backyard fence. She could hear the neighborhood kids laugh by on their bikes up and down the curvy street she lived on. Sometimes, she spied on them through the slits in the wooden fence. So happy with one another. Yelling, screaming and laughing as kids usually do. Her happy place was on the other side of the fence. Near the giant plastic garbage bins and air conditioning unit. There was also a giant, black satellite pole that stuck out of the ground near the door to the garage that she measured her height on as years went by. A couple of lines of green paint still there. She was almost the same size as she had started this tradition near her only and last growth spurt. It was only a sliver of concrete that she liked to stand along. She thought of her hopes, dreams, bad days and realities. Her imagination took her everywhere. One day she would recite presidential speeches on how the world could be better. The next day, she could look up to the sky and see herself being picked up by a steam punk zeppelin where she started adventures with her new crew of characters. Another time she would try singing into a tape recorder to see if her voice was as pretty as the words she sang. Other days were not so creative, but no less active. She would strap in her roller blades and turn around the satellite pole until she could spin the most times without being dizzy. She played handball by herself against the side wall until it was dark. And then there were times where she just sat and cried because she knew that no one could see or hear her. Bad days were rare, but they still happened. It was her space outside of her space. As far as she could get away from home while still being home. But when the children she didn’t know would pass by her space, she would always go quiet. She wanted to listen to them. Wonder what it was like to have freedom on the other side of that wooden gate. What it was like to interact with people who weren’t imaginary and set in her creation. She wondered what it had all meant for her. At any moment she knew that she could just open the latch and watch them play. She might ask if she could join them or perhaps look sad enough for them to ask her. (Although the latter never worked for her in ANY situation) She wished she could just watch them. Like a television show that was outside. People-watching. Her imagination grew more hungry for a real companion to her stories and lonely activities. Someone to console her or laugh with her. With a whole other world out there, perhaps just one person can come into hers.
She was someone who I thought stole my hard-earned spot. She came in and I was ignored, forgotten by the others. I didn’t have their history, their chemistry. I was an outsider when I tried to fit in. But then again, I never really felt like it was all that important to my group. I was missing something. Courage, interests, crazy teenager ideas, none of which I was defined as. But then, after a period of nonstop disappointments from my group of friends, coupled with a depressing period in my life, she stood out. The person who I thought had stolen my place in my group actually became much closer to me than anyone in the group I started out with. She wasn’t perfect, but no one was. She treated me like a friend more than any of them, even after graduation. We still kept in touch. We still hung out. She put in effort to see me. She put effort in my birthday presents. She explored logical ideas with me and although we had our arguments, it wasn’t off-putting. I admired her point of views, and the way she taught herself many things. Once in a while I tried to take interest in her world and did my best to be genuine about it. I tried to be honest and respectful. I tried to make her laugh and create inside jokes. Although she couldn’t help with all my problems, I didn’t expect her to. Sometimes just having the option to hang out with her made me feel less lonely and worried about my own life. She was an ear when I needed her to be. She was on my side when I was in arguments with others or with the world. She was there for me when I needed her to be, not all the time, but most of the time. She didn’t smother me or be needy like I sometimes am towards her. But I knew she was one of the few that cared about me as much as I cared about her. She has taught me many things, shared with me her stories and interests, got me to go to concerts I would have never gone to, take me to places that I wouldn’t have wanted to go alone… and for that, she is special to me. I hope that we will be friends for the rest of our lives. She keeps me informed. She keeps me interested. She keeps me in awe of her. Thank you my friend.