Friendship? What’s That?- A True Story
What is friendship? Does being friends with someone mean consistently hanging out? Watching movies together, going for coffee, and knowing about various aspects of their life and all that other shit? I think that’s society’s general understanding of friendship. The thing is, I disagree with this common understanding as it doesn’t fit with a friendship I have. Let me tell you a little story though so you’ll understand. (You can leave now if you think this is going to be a romance story… it’s not. I mean I think it’s a sweet story, but you will not find Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling here)…
Sticking around??? Cool!
So I was bullied a lot in elementary school because of my disability (check out my blog on that whole thing here: https://medium.com/@Kalvonix/my-life-as-a-rapper-the-art-of-hip-hop-culture-65b433050b30#.uo5ctpsiw). In those rough times, there was less than a handful of people that I could count on for a supporting smile that could get me through the day. There was one girl in particular however that stood out. Why? You’ll see.
Stop coming into my head and asking me questions as I’m typing by the way. It’s so annoying!
Okay so this girl (let’s call her Carmen), always recognized when I needed help in class. Whether it be putting my books into my backpack on the back of my wheelchair, cutting out a picture for a collage, providing a hand to hold whenever I had to transition from my wheelchair to crutches, or just flashing me a smile whenever I was having a bad day, Carmen was always there. Being weird, geeky, confused, and maybe crushing on her a little bit, I remember once being caught by my third grade teacher smelling Carmen’s planner while she was putting my books in my bag. That was awkward as hell and I remember my teacher telling me that smelling a girl’s book was inappropriate. Pshh… whatever. It smelt like smarties! I remember that. I remember Carmen just laughing it off, probably used to seeing me do a bunch of weird shit anyway. But hey, if she didn’t get mad at me for smelling her smarties flavored planner then we should be together forever, right? Isn’t that like in the friendship code? Like I said, I don’t know much about it so I wouldn’t know for sure. Anyway, you would think our interactions would quickly blossom into this everlasting friendship. It didn’t, at least not in the traditional sense.
As we grew older, we slowly began to communicate less and less. We had different friends, different tastes in movies, music, brand of pencil crayons and all that jazz. We were just completely different people. I guess teachers realized this too as we didn’t have many classes together in the later years of elementary.
Once high school was a thing, Carmen and I weren’t. I don’t recall ever having a class with her. I honestly can’t even recall seeing her more than 5 times in our five years at Johnston Heights Secondary. She slowly became a memory and a “friend” from my troubled days in elementary. She was gone, but because we never were close friends, I don’t believe either of us cared much. Around 2011, I remember she worked at the movie theater and because watching movies is basically a passion of mine, I saw her quite often. We wouldn’t have conversations or anything, but I remember saying “hi” and she would say “hi” back and I would say “how are you” and she would say “good, how about you?” and then I would say “good” and she would say “that’s good” and then that’s it. Yup. The epitome of fantastical conversational skills right there.
Fast forward to late 2013/ early 2014. Like me, Carmen was studying at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. I knew this because we would pass by each other from time to time. She would always be looking down however so I quickly learned to do the same. Then we found ourselves in the same university classes. Unfortunately being in my early twenties, I had recently taught myself how to put my books in my bag, transition from my wheelchair to crutches, and English classes didn’t do fun things like paper mache or collages so… nothing happened. There was one time though where I saw her sitting on a bench at Surrey Central mall as I was coming down the escalator. I swear I locked eyes with her and smiled. Expecting her to do the same,I was confused and sort of mad when she didn’t. Nothing. She didn’t make any sort of positive facial expression that even remotely resembled the smile that I found so much comfort in during our early school days. At that point, I figured our connection was truly gone.
Then summer of 2015 came and we were once again thrown into an English class together. We slowly began to talk as she sat behind me and was friends with one of my friends in the class (shout out to this friend in case he reads this but he probably won’t because my friends don’t read my blogs). Anyway, we started to talk and joke around before and after class. It started out being small chill sessions to lengthy ones where she offered to buy me coffee. I don’t know much, but I do believe friends buy coffee for friends (if I ever find the friendship code book then I’ll find the quotation, I will only cite it in MLA style though because I prefer it to APA). Anyway, on the final day of the class, I did my final presentation for the class. People were literally fighting with the teacher to ensure that I went last as nobody could top me on my English presentations. Honestly, I’m not usually one to brag about that but I got to say, it felt good. I presented on my life and my journey with Cerebral Palsy in which I compared my struggles with some of the struggles Despereaux endures in The Tale of Despereaux, as well as Cheryl Strayed’s journey outlined in her book, as well as the movie adaptation, Wild. I won’t outline the presentation for you, but I will say that I covered my dark elementary days. I didn’t really factor in that Carmen was there watching, perhaps I wouldn’t of said quite as much if I remembered how involved Carmen was during those times. When I finished, the professor, as well as some students were in tears. I was overjoyed and relieved with such a positive reception, as I was honestly nervous about comparing my life to some of the works we studied. My professor told me it was one of her favorite presentations of the day. I didn’t think I could feel any better after that… but I was wrong.
It was passed midnight and my 23rd birthday had officially arrived. I was just about to head to bed when my phone vibrated. Groggily picking it up, my heavy eyes became light and ready to read as her name came into focus.
I was shocked.
I got a Facebook message.
A long, thought out Facebook message.
A long, thought out Facebook message from Carmen.
I won’t go into detail about the message itself, but I will say that it completely made my birthday as well as made me feel good about everything I was doing up to that point. She spoke a lot on how great my presentation was. Of course, being a rapper, that ego boost was awesome. What meant so much more to me however was that she explained how my presentation made her reflect on her own writing and how like me, writing (whether it be stories or poetry like she does or music like me) got us both through so many tough times. As I was reading the message, I quickly realized that her message and the conversation that were to proceed it would be the most intimate we had ever been in our over-decade long of knowing each other.
I’ve gotten to know her more since that message. We have hung out a few times, she came to my birthday party, and we now regularly check in with each other and support each other’s studies and future goals. I can safely and happily say that Carmen is back in my life in a way that she had never been before and I couldn’t be more thankful. Then again, we realized through recent conversations that she never really left. Our lives were always intertwined in one way or another. For instance, one of her best friends happens to me the older sister of one of my brother’s best friends from back in the day. We also always went to the same school whether we talked or not, she worked at the movie theater that I went to every week, and we both share a passion for words. In a weird way, Carmen and I have been inseparable. In a weird way, we’ve always been friends. Life made sure to keep it that way. It doesn’t have to do that from now on however, I think we got it from here.
Here’s a link to my Prezi presentation on Cheryl Stayed, Despereaux Tilling, and myself (I used my friend’s account, that’s why his name is there):