When I said goodbye to this mutual victim from college- I cried. That doesn’t happen to me often and I certainly wasn’t expecting it. I’m usually so ambivalent when it comes to goodbyes. For me, change doesn’t register until it has fully manifested itself, slapped me in the face and shook me from my disbelieving stupor.
But if it was anybody who deserved my tears it was him. [G-d knows my other close friend from college provoked them often enough]. This was the guy who sat there with me and listened; Who never turned me away when I asked for his compassion; Who went out of his way to make sure I was alright. And you have no idea how fucked up our relationship got, how hormones and broken hearts complicated our bond, how radically different upbringings made our understandings clash, and how gender roles muddied our perspective. But he never gave up on “us”. He always made it clear that he valued me as a person, as a friend, and every other facet paled in comparison. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so loved or that I was completely ready to embrace and trust that kind of sincerity, especially from boy. But he was patient with me. He always listened and tried to ride with me on my trains of thought. Our conversations were deep and complex and he helped me to shed light on the errors in my thinking. Perhaps I did the same for him (although I don’t think he would ever admit to any). I tried to be there for him when he needed me and he expressed gratitude more than any friend I’ve ever had. But I can’t help but feel he’s given so much more to me than I have to him, even though with deep appreciation he tries to steer me from that conclusion.
He’s amazing. A seemingly typical cynical macho college guy with a heart capable of the purest care I have ever known.
That being said, I do often right off his advice as over-moralistic and unnecessarily safe. It’s not so much him as it is cognitive dissonance: At the end of the day I do what I want and my brain makes sure that I have at least a semi-sensible justification.
So I did see the boy from the bohemian love triangle. He called one night drunk and nearby and I was eager to share with him the recent online conversation with MVT. We sat on campus and smoked cigarettes- I think we were both afraid of the occurring interaction.
We got along so well- mostly. Until a week or so before I decided to be drunk and self centered and tell him exactly who I thought he was. I channeled my mentality when I was compulsively using and I described the criminal that I was, only attaching his name to my former qualities.
He knew; he called me on my bullshit the same way I called him on his. We knew. We know people and after countless experiences of watching ourselves and others in the midst of psychoanalysis- I think we realize that human motivation if often quite predictable. So he saw right through me but he didn’t quite understand why I chose to patronize him that night or where my anger came from.
Neither did I.
Yes I was angry at my former self, yes I was angry at the people who never tried to call me on my bullshit, yes I did wish to spare the other girl hurt that came from naively lending him trust he did not deserve. But what I later discovered after much self-reflection was that on a superficial level (which is actually deeper when it comes to interacting with bohemians as they’re used to discussing sobering truths but not so much the simple ones) I just wanted to interact with him. I wanted to spar, I wanted to play, I wanted to tease and to prove myself all without having to compromise my friendship with the other girl from the triangle. In fact, I may have managed to reinforce our friendship with my tactless condescending exposé.
Sounds manipulative, doesn’t it? It is. It’s disgustingly manipulative but know that I did believe my words. Know I did believe he didn’t value her best interest as much as he should have because of his adrenaline addict priorities. Know I did think that he was blatantly lying to her by making false promises and letting her believe every word.
It’s just one night I felt the drunken impulse to call him out in front of her, realizing only later how much it worked in my favor. And I think I felt confident that mine and his relationship could take the heat as it was based almost entirely on discussing ugly truths.
But I’m done with the honesty game- because that’s really all it is when it’s uncalled for. I think the three of us, to some extent, have adopted this philosophy not to say anything about a person that we wouldn’t say to a person. And I think sometimes we get caught up in the power struggle of proving our authenticity. He exposed her opinions of me both in and out of her presence. She exposed him. I exposed her. I exposed him. I knew she exposed me privately to him. And so I assumed he exposed me to her.
I don’t know why it was jarring to think that I couldn’t trust him with secrecy when I knew she couldn’t. Ok, that’s a lie I do. I wanted to believe our alliance was stronger but I also knew it was absurd and hypocritical to count on it.
Part of my anger at him was a reaction to that realization.
But he’s a good guy. Today I trust that his compassion for me is genuine and I think he knows I truly care about him: Whatever that means.
I enjoyed the time I spent with him so much and the history he chose to share with me. I enjoyed our platonic experience on drugs, intensely watching one man’s theory of religion. I enjoyed the next day half wittedly reminiscing about Thunder Cats and VR Troopers while I wore his only mildly roomy clothes. I enjoyed saying hello and goodbye to my closest friends and then leaning on his shoulder for support. I enjoyed wandering with him to Chipotle speaking and walking like crack heads (I wonder if he remembers that my eyebrows were unusually dark?).
I enjoyed the drama caused when the other girl jealously caught us hanging out and I technically had nothing to feel guilty about. I enjoyed it when she asked us what we’ve been up to. And he replied “O you know just waiting.” To which I chimed in with my best soprano “Waiting on the world to change.” And all three of us continued singing.
And most of all I enjoyed waiting for four hours with him, while she was in a meeting, in “our” abandoned soon-to-be demolished dormitory as we babysat the last of our belongings and reminded each other of the trippy events taking place: Seniors returning to vandalize their transitory freshmen home.
And when she came back and they interacted- I respectfully stepped aside. I realized I didn’t know him at all, at least not with the intimacy that she did. And I let myself finally confront the fact that maybe I was wrong. That maybe her feelings were of some consequence to him and that it would hurt to hurt her. They’re almost perfect strangers to me and their hearts aren’t familiar enough to mend. My mistrust of their intentions is a reflection of my skepticism and is not the absolute truth about their character; Although, I will not discount the validity of my observations and reflections.
The bottom line is you can understand basic psychology and have a good eye for unconscious motivation. You can project onto others every observed detail of your own nature and learn a tremendous about human nature in general. But to understand how a person works; the organic desires that haunt them and how they go about fulfillment is only a fraction of their humanity. A person is yes, the desires they act on, but also the ones they’re to afraid of. A person is where they’ve been both a year ago and a decade ago. A person is their favorite childhood TV show and their current best friends. A person is their anger, their sadness, their shame, their hopes, their fears… the way they hug, the way they choose to wear their hair.
A person is what you see in them but more so, what they see in themselves. Because we can never wholly see what another person sees; we are after all, solitary prisoners in our own minds.
Ironically this revelation occurred to me while under the influence which brings us back full circle, to the original topic for discussion: The hard hitting truth about drugs.