How do I not fear a new friend?

The forts that we build

We were born honest and expressive. The first people most of us met were our families: warm, gentle guardians, a reminder of heaven. We were then in cozy shells. Our guardians faced the world for us. With time, we were compelled to grow out of our shells and open the door to the other side.

Fearless and naive, we stepped outside. We saw skin, eyes and smiles. We held hands and exchanged the warmth of bodies. With every move closer, we exchanged more and more of ourselves with fellow humans, peeled off all our layers until we lay with bones exposed, bleeding.

Flashback — My first week in kindergarten: it was lunch break, and she said “let’s race!” I had just watched one, the girls ran fast as wind, my eyes had struggled to keep them in focus as their rabbit feet created threatening clouds of dust storms before me. I told her as per past experience “I’m not fast” She smiled and replied “This one is for all those who are slow” I remember her positioning right next to me, myself relying on her word, and with a whistle we stepped forward for our first thrust against the air…she knocked her elbow hard into my abdomen and as she ran on her track she looked back to watch me fall on my side, brazing my forearm, and my heart too, for my eyes were glued to hers all this while, this small moment was slowed down, with the realization of betrayal written all over my face, forever carved on my heart.

As soon as we are exposed, we learn our ultimate lesson: never to peel ourselves naked to even our closest, most treasured people; never to trust their word, only our instincts; never to rely, but only on ourselves.

Flashback — farewell kindergarten: we were chorusing our word-meanings in class, chanting vocabulary like everlasting spells, rather curses. “Fair weather friend” we chanted. Afterwards, during lunch break, I was alone because apparantly I wasn’t cool enough to be a part of the clique my friend had left me to join. My heart kept chanting the word over and over. Oh, I know what it meant.

Yet, how we choose to apply what we learn is entirely a personal experience. No one fort is the same as the one that neighbours it. Actually you might even think now “Oh I got neighbours?” Like a blue genie from Alladin I poof in front of you from thin air to say “Exactly!” with a grin.

The transformation is gradual. It is brick by brick, a fool-proof architecture on an excellent foundation of hit and trial with emotional experiences intersecting with innate problem-solving mechanisms.

I have realized, though, a common trend in all of them. It was something I missed for a long time. It isn’t a fact, but an observation based on the people I have come across. You have all the right to disagree, better still if you do and write about your own views.

I saw an inviting face of a fort, quite compatible with my vibes, and I was warmly welcomed, given a tour of the inside. By and by, I was free to roam in the premises. I felt connected. I felt trusted. I was careful to not pluck any flowers even if I was madly intrigued to do so. One day, behind a friendly red curtain, I found a dark hallway, and down the hallway, a door that was locked. In a flash the guards were dragging me away and I was trying to writhe out of their seize. During my effort, multiple such doors revealed themselves in this forbidden corridor. It took me some time to accept.

Other times, I would enter fancy, welcoming forts, only to see that afar eye-catching gardens that stretched acres, was a grey wall, standing high and mighty, quite like mine. Only then I realized my mistake, my limited experience, the reason I was never visited: my flawed architecture.

Hence as we reached adulthood, the social standard for friends became thus: those who can visit the inside of the fancy fort walls.

I want to go farther than that. In exchange I am ready to let my new friend cross my grey walls, if only she tries to look past them instead of walking away.