This one I’ve been gearing up for, since there is so much to say.
Lara and I met in college through a friend of mine, who was her roommate. This friend of mine – we’ll call her Kelley – went to summer camp with me for years and years, and were closer than sisters. I still think about her, even though when she got to college, she turned into some unrecognizable person, hanging out with frat boys and getting trashed and generally scaring me on a regular basis.
So I knew Lara as “Kelley’s roommate” for most of that first semester, and apparently I wasn’t easy to get to know, which is unsurprising since I was such an antisocial FREAK in college. I mean, I wanted to get to know new people, but I also wanted to be weird and unapproachable and on the outside so I had something to complain about.
I complained a lot back then. Even still, people wanted to get to know me and hang out with me, because even while I was attempting to be dark and misunderstood, I was me, and I am generally cheerful and curious and engaging.
So Lara did not give up on me. Not that first time, and so we became fast friends, and not later on while I was struggling with my first bout of depression and had isolated myself from everyone else of significance in my life. I wrote a poem about that time, and dedicated it to her. I think it bears repeating here.
WaitWhat can I say about the person who saved my life? Lara is not only an amazing friend but an incredible mother, plus she is going back to school and will be a brilliant lawyer someday, not the kind I like to make fun of, but the kind who fights for what she knows is right. She makes me laugh and is an awesome partner in roadtrip crime. I love her, admire her, and miss her every day.
From where I sat, behind the pressed-wood desk, I could see the perfect purple of outside, beyond a crusted hotpot, dead full of old noodles, its black cord curled and still along the sill.
There were no trips to the store, except past midnight, when I was sure no one I knew would find me creeping among the bright packages, the faceless million fruits, skirting edges of undone boxes, half-packed, waiting. Waiting. Furtively, I filled a red plastic basket with eight bags of noodles, a tiny sack of coffee beans, some oranges: a thief who paid for everything she stole.
Days were slept away, broken only by the heartless pounding on my door, again and again the pounding, the pleas, to please let him in. Please let me in. I could picture him with his beautiful cheekbone pressed against the metal doorframe; I could see it but I wouldn’t let myself feel it. Please let me in.
At seven o’clock, a mother would come, every night. She was the closest mother I had, the only person I would take orders from. Open the door, get in that shower, eat this, sit here, talk to me. Talk to me. She called it “airing me out” every night; she would make me watch “Jeopardy!” with her as she doled out little presents for me, cups of coffee with thick, amaretto-flavoured cream.
Again, back in the room, eyes and fingertips pressed so urgently to a screen I didn’t believe in, time was whittled away into sawdust underneath my chair. The hotpot was scraped out, used, and left again to ferment on the sill, to stare out at each purple dusk, and wait.
— Halsted M. Bernard