(A flashback to 8:55 PM, June 8. Year unknown, but I’d guess 2007.)
(Photo by Jaume Ventura. Image source)
A few days ago, I witnessed a most beautiful scene; two friends, who clearly hadn’t seen each other in a very long time, were reunited.
She was startled to see him but obviously delighted. They stood talking, cheeks flushed, eyes shining, happy as clams. They joked around, she teasingly punched him in the chest a few times. (As I type this, I realize how pathetic it sounds. Trust me, it looked like a sign of endearment in real life, a brotherly thing.) They spoke for a few minutes, catching up and remembering old times. I slipped away, afraid to be caught staring.
It was such a simple thing— just two average-looking-yet-radiant ol’ buddies talking, but it melted my cold, bitter, jagged, aching, rusted-out junker of a heart.
That, I realized, is what I’m looking for in life; to be loved that way, to have someone’s eyes light up when they see me, to have someone feel lucky to laugh and chatter with me, to remember my name after years of separation, to truly know me and love me anyway. (Notice that I left out the chest-punching; endearing as it was, it’s not something one actively seeks.)
Every once in awhile, I’ll get a bolt of that feeling, that always-startling realization that someone genuinely loves me, and I love them.
The rest of the time I wander around with glazed eyes, feeling half-alive, stuffing my face and frantically searching for an identity, some recognizable Me-ness that will attract that shiny-eyed happy-to-see-you kind of long-lost friend.
There are plenty of people I love deeply; my mommy and siblings, a few former boyfriends, my fairy godmother, the girls who carried me through the incessant, gut-wrenching traumas of adolescence. Aunts and Uncles. A whole flock of friends from church, both in Indiana and New Mexico. A few precious music majors, and a handful of near-strangers to whom I never admitted my adoration.
I want to keep these people forever and ever and ever, to wrap everyone up in an enormous bear-hug, still clinging desperately to their ankles as they try to leave and get work done:
‘Rebekah,’ they will say gently, trying to pry my fingers away, ‘Relax, I won’t be gone forever.’ ‘Promise?’ ‘Yes, of course.’ ‘You do realize that’s exactly what you said last time, don’t you?’ ‘Yes, and I always come home. Now let go, you’re hurting my leg.’
One day, I will find the safe middle-ground between being too distant and too clingy. Until then, thank you for taking care of me and tolerating my shortcomings.
You make me happy as a clam. I look forward to seeing you and your shining eyes.