Hey all! Welcome to the first installment in my Special People series!
This person’s first appearance in my life was not worthy of much attention. We were crammed into the same math class, and I didn’t even know he really existed for the first couple months of school because he sat on the other side of the room. It wasn’t until a mutual friend dragged shy, freshman me to their group that I was introduced to him. Even then, I spent the first few weeks near him and my other new friends in my own little world, trying true to the reclusive, former-homeschooler stereotype.
Little did I know, his raunchy humor, unharnessed desire to do whatever the hell he wanted, and stupidly-lovely blue eyes would lead me to catch an awful disease that many of my peers knew as “feelings.” The result of this hideous disease was a typical first-boyfriend, high school-relationship story, the details of which I will not inflict on you.
After the inevitable end, we rarely hung out with one another. Sophomore year, we shared lunch periods and tables, friends, and words, but we merely existed in the same physical space rather than being friends in any true sense of the word.
Rather than wallowing in the details of that sad year, let’s skip ahead to the third year of our acquaintance. We slowly grew closer. I saw some warmth that he rarely showed, hiding within. This warmth compelled me to let go of past pain, and he realized that being friends with me could be a pretty great idea. We picked up some inside jokes, and actually shared the same space instead of merely allowing our existences to overlap. This friendship grew into our senior year as we spent many of the graduation activities together. We even got our caricature drawn together at our Project Grad.
These memories are what kept our friendship alive through the first couple years after we left high school. College, relationships, and life’s troubles kept us from seeing or speaking with one another often, but after those first years, we found ourselves growing close again. Texting more, hanging out with friends, sharing advice and sass during the rough times, and simply being friends brought us closer together. It was around this time I realized that I had been blessed to have him in my life.
Yes, his life was a mess. His car was an unreliable hunk of metal, his employment history was tumultuous, college hadn’t panned out, and he had yet to recover from a relationship that had drained something unidentifiable, yet unbelievably important from him; he was more broken than together. Despite the awful state he was in, I still recognized the same warmth that had compelled me to grow close to him after that first heartbreak in high school. As months passed, we grew closer. I dragged him outdoors, away from the miserable nest that health issues, work issues, and girlfriend issues had left him in. I made him hang out with my friends. I saw that warmth, and I decided that I was going to everything possible to keep it from drowning in whatever misery life threw at him.
In return, he was there for me. He repeatedly told me, despite the protests from my pitiful self-loathing, that I deserved more than the lies and excuses my then-boyfriend gave me. He was one of the people that drove over an hour to help me move after I broke up with that creepy, lying ex. He became a much-needed support as I stumbled through my last two years of college, another relationship, and all the stress in between. Even when significant others, the same factor that had kept us isolated before, were in the picture, we were close. It was when I realized that not even relationships could draw our attention away from providing support that the other needed that I also realized I had found one of the best friends I will ever have.
I may only have been around for a couple of decades, but I have learned to appreciate those people that come into your life and stick like gum in long hair. There is something comforting about knowing someone has stayed with you through tears, anger, and heartbreak. There is something nostalgic about having seen that same person gone from a 14-year-old, lost boy who couldn’t bring himself to behave responsibly (he knows it, too) to a semi-functional adult; a semi-functional adult who’s blue eyes glisten when he tells a joke, who’s beard scratching my neck during a comforting hug is familiar, and who has grown immensely much as a person. Seeing the growth this man has gone through makes me proud to be his best friend and to have grown alongside him all these years.
Over the years this special person has become my spine when I avoid standing up for myself, my closest confidant, my best “bad decision,” my chief comfort in times of anxiety or sadness, and my favorite partner in crime. Words cannot adequately capture how important this person is to me, all he has done for me, or how wonderful he truly is beneath the brash exterior. All I can say is that he is my best friend.
Happy birthday, my best friend.