I’m writing this the night before my best friend’s plane lands in the U.S. I’ve been working nonstop the past three weeks to make sure everything is ready for her arrival, so this installment of my column probably won’t sound as nice or be as neat, because my brain is just about maxed out. But I wanted to write something on what is probably one of the more momentous occasions in my life. I apologize if it comes across as overly emotional. I’ve spent the last 24 hours murmuring to myself about how surreal this is, telling everyone within earshot that my best friend is coming and, by the way, did you know that D-Day — my nickname for the day of her arrival — is finally here?
I never really thought I would have friends. Which sounds pessimistic, I know, but it’s something I think a lot of people with SMA can identify with. Having friends is hard; making friends is even harder. You’re different, you stand out, people think you’re weird, they pity you or want nothing to do with you and, in many cases, that just translates to —
I’ve had a few good friends over the years, online and “in real life,” but I’ve mostly just been a loner. I hate that word because it just reminds me of “Catcher in the Rye,” but it’s true. I always spent lunch period in the library and avoided homecoming by watching Disney movies. I told myself for the longest time that I was OK, that I was content. And I think, for the most part, I was. But there were also periods of long, inescapable loneliness.
I’m not going to write about how much I love my best friend (a lot), or how much I owe her (a lot), or how much she’s changed my life (a lot), because I tweet about it at least once a week. But I do want to impart just how … possible things are. Things I never thought would happen are, in fact, happening, and it’s —
I never really thought I would have friends. And now my best friend, who I’ve known for a decade, is flying from Scotland to Minnesota, all to spend two weeks with me. On Friday afternoon, one of my best friends will be driving from Indiana to Chicago to pick up another one of my best friends, so the virtual Dungeons & Dragons group I started in November can convene for the very first time. I’ll be spending the weekend with my favorite people in the world.
I never really thought I would have friends, and now I have all this. It doesn’t look like I thought it would, back when I dreamed about having friends of my own. I’ve worked hard to get to this point. I’ve had to endure a lot of pain, a lot of grief and uncertainty. God knows I didn’t expect to be playing tabletop roleplaying games, of all things. But I have it. It’s mine. And I’m not letting go. Not for anything.
It’s funny how life works out. Two countries, three time zones, three states. Twenty-two years of cumulative friendship. It’s been a rough year, but I’ve made it through; the sun is breaking through the clouds.
I’ll see y’all in two weeks.
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