We are the unlikeliest of friends. I’m not the only (or first) person to make that comment. It’s undeniable on the surface.
He’s the classic BMOC, he’s smart (brilliant actually in a Will Hunting sort of way, although it’s not the first thing you notice about him); successful, he has a smile that lights up any room. He’s the center of any crowd; he’s the glue that holds many diverse personalities together. More than that, he’s the secret ingredient that makes them all blend harmoniously. He’s the definition of gracious, in spite of his frequent reminders that he has no filter. He can say things nobody else would ever get away with because you see his heart, it’s right there on his sleeve. He can be a mischievous imp, but he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He’s also the man in our singles group who tends to have many eyes following him. Not that he notices.
I am not the see or be seen type. In fact, if there’s a plant to hide behind, a dog to pet, or a child to chat with, I’m happier than a pig in, well, you know. I’m a social introvert. I’ve been accused of being an ambivert, but that’s not quite true. I love people. I enjoy getting to know them, I love nothing more than talking to someone, and trying in little snippets of time to heal their wounds, to see the things other people miss, I think people are for the most part heartbreakingly beautiful; but I have my peopleing limits and it doesn’t take me long to reach them; and then I need to retreat to a cold, dark room and pretend the outside world doesn’t exist for a while. Kind of an odd trait for a person who loves being a rideshare driver, right? Yeah, I haven’t quite figured that out myself.
So not exactly two people who would seem like they’d become great friends, right?
I’ll sum it up for you in just a handful of letters.
We met on the heels of similar personal disasters. I’m not particularly skilled or gifted or successful at anything, but the one thing I say I do well is love. And I am good, I guess, at reframing things. For helping people connect dots they might not otherwise see. We’ve all been hit by that hurricane relationship that leaves you breathless by the side of the road wondering what the hell just happened; and when you’ve landed in another country and you don’t speak the language, your odds of piecing together where you are and how to get back to where you were (if that’s even possible, which, it isn’t) are slim to none. For months we talked almost every day. In part because I was able to help him figure out where he was, and since going back wasn’t a desirable (or available) option, how to go home again.
He’s courageous in a way few people are. In an odd way, some of that is fear. Who wants to keep hurting when you’ve just been mortally wounded. It’s an evolutionary imperative to stop the bleeding. But few people have the courage to turn in the face of such assaults, draw that line in the sand and stand there saying “cross it one more time…”. So we wandered that path together, both of us unafraid to look pain in the face, because continuing to hurt like this was not an option.
You can’t share that kind of experience and not forge a rare bond. The fact that we’re both a little empathic, both lean towards the live and let live side, the fact that my barely there filter sometimes rivals his nonexistent one. I could go on, but the moral of the story is your mother was right when she told you never to judge a book by it’s cover.
We’ve become friends. Maybe even family. I’m not sure I have a label that can really encompass the place he has in my heart and my life, but can say I have few friendships I cherish as much as this one.
The fact that on the heels of tragedy comes the most beautiful of blessings is one of the reasons I haven’t become hardened. The beauty is always there, if you stay open to seeing it.