The Time You Were By My Side (Even Though I Never Asked You To Be)
It was a hard time (not that I’m trying to say this somehow makes the time or even my experience unique). I felt displaced, lost and defeated. Hell, after a week without a cigarette I felt cornered into going out and buying a fresh pack, I felt so desperate. It’s not really an excuse though is it? “Shit sucks, better smoke”; but it’s one that I’ve rigidly adhered to since I was 14 and everything sucked in the consuming way it does when you’re 14.
But we’re not 14 anymore. Things are really happening to us. We’re in debt, we’re suddenly jobless, loveless, disease ridden, watching the people we love struggle with their demons. Everything is becoming real. Granted, we take things less seriously; we can now laugh at our misfortunes, and ourselves, whereas when we were teenagers we’d lament a missed party or a parental grounding for weeks to follow. Things change, thankfully.
At that time — I wanted to bail. I wanted to give up and go home. I was so fed up with it all, the transience and the unknowing and just trying so fucking hard all the time for a pittance in my purse and a sore back. And then, just when I was ready to throw my hands up in the air, distill my dreams and walk away with them (in their much smaller package) to a safer place, there you were. You were sitting on my stoop, just like… that.
I hadn’t asked you to come, but you came anyway. You, who I didn’t even think cared for me; you, who teased me and tore me down from my cloud whenever you could; you, who I hadn’t seen in almost two weeks. There you were. When you looked up and smiled at me I wanted to fall into your arms and cry and cry, but I didn’t. You had come so I could be strong; and so strong I was.
You’re never going to know just how much it meant to me that day you came unannounced to support me. You’re never going to know that you being there put my perspective back into its rightful place. You’re never going to know that I never really thought that I could care for you to until I saw you sitting there, waiting for me so patiently. You’re never going to know how much I owe you for your modest kindness.
And I know you’re never going to admit that you came because you were worried about me, or because you cared. You’re never going to admit what it meant to you, to be there when I needed you most. And when you came, you already knew you weren’t going to reach out and hold me, letting me cry the way I wanted to. You were never going to make it about affection, despite our history. That just wouldn’t be “us.”
But you made me laugh regardless, and together we laughed at the world, at our misfortunes and the absolute rock bottom it seemed like I was hitting. You made jokes for me and you turned the hardship into adventure, right at the precise moment when I thought I was going to crack irreparably. You intuitively knew what to do for me in my hour of need, and you did it without show or emotion. And I received it the same way.
So I want to say thank you for that time you were at my side even though I had never asked you to be there. Thank you for offering your presence as my solace. Thank you for silently saying that we’re OK, that I’m OK, that you will be there when I’m treading water without an island in sight. Thank you for not making it into a “thing,” for knowing me so well (because we’re just the same inside, really) and ignoring the inherent weight of your actions, allowing me to ignore it too. Thank you for being such a mocking jerk instead of pitying me the way I was pitying myself — because you know that’s what I like about you, anyway. So, just… thank you.
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