Seven Years of Itching
A professor once advised me to put space between true life events and the fiction that transpires, else the words may read like a diary entry.
But my hands don’t always cooperate. More often, they record a story taken from yesterday’s events before I even realize what’s forming on paper. And this story of a story is no different. It occurred yesterday. The sole difference between a journal entry and this post is that it also regards events/words/heart palps that have been a hive about my body–breaking out in intervals–over the past seven years.
Because seven years ago, I lost three constants in my life.
- First constant: my best friend. The kind that digs strawberries from the ground, laughing as we pop them into our mouths before anyone sees. The kind that rides bicycles on long summer days in our youth, only to be mirrored by longer rides in our twenties. The kind that throws open your bedroom door after you’ve been canned from a shitty job, and forces you into a bikini and onto a beach, reminding you that life should be marked by beaches and not shitty bosses.
- Second constant: my younger brother-cousin. The kind that you fret over because he has such a kind spirit–one you don’t want him to lose, one you don’t want others to bruise. The kind that you want to take care of, and not because you’re older or more experienced. The kind that you may tease and take a bite out of his cheeseburger because his mortified reaction is golden.
- Third constant: my eldest brother-cousin. The kind that teaches you how to ride a bike because your parents are busy breaking up. The kind that keeps you in check by incessantly taunting you, whittling your spirit down, yet somehow making you a better person, making you see. The kind that teaches you bad habits because he’ll be damned if you learn them from anyone else.
If you’ve a small family, you can relate. If you’ve a heart not easily given away, you can relate. If you’ve a slim troupe of true-blue comrades, you can relate. If you’ve fallen away from someone you love–even just a little, even for a moment–you can relate.
Before my step-sister was my sister, these two cousins existed as brothers in my brain, as counterparts at birthdays, softball games, visits with Great-Grandma Virginia. The elder, crude but honest. The younger, kind and forever willing to help.
Before I made life-long friends at university, I didn’t trust just any girl’s hand to hold my heart in friendship. Some people make pals all the day long, but it doesn’t come natural to someone caught in a forever whirl of introvert-via-extrovert brainwaves.
Of course I’ve graced the back of receipts and napkins with our fallout, the misconstrued texts, the who-said-what’s of others retellings. But these scraps are just that and will never see publication. Because the breakup doesn’t warrant documentation. Surely it’s what most want to read about, but what is worth repeating is how itchy my subconscious has been, and how I will forever feel sorry in the way I handled events that felt so real yet so out of my control seven years back. My hope is others will seek out forgiveness sooner, complete with buckets of sincerity.
For just yesterday, a little play-date with the first constant offered me an initial round of antibiotic. We sat with our mini-me tots, born within months of each other, talking pretty easy. As they warmed up to one another, we did too. And it felt so genuine that I had to keep reminding myself that seven years had gone by, and it may be even longer, if ever, before we can be bosom pals as we once were. My thoughts rumbled in trying to decipher what’s hardest: making a friend or losing one.
Much later in the night, the second round of healing was performed in the middle of a crowded, small-town bar. Sharing in good conversation with two earthy beauties, I felt so giddy. The day felt monumental, already. Then I spun in my chair to welcome in the next round of healing. My second constant gave me a quick hug and we caught up quick, talking of trucks and tots. I felt many things in this moment that passersby would perceive as ordinary, maybe even mundane. But for me, it felt right and real and long overdue. With hope, it too is a stone to step on towards something greater rather than a stone meant for skipping, lost in murky waters.
“Because, because, because, because, because,
because of the wonderful things he does!
We’re off to see the Wizard!”
Aye, there are never two sides to a story. Often because what feels so true to one heart is a work of absolute fiction in another. At least five truths, five stories, reside here:
- The one I recall.
- The one the three constants recall (perhaps these differ as well).
- The one bystanders, friends of friends of friends, can recall, as heard from horse’s lips.
- The one our relatives relatively recall.
- The one that actually took place.
After seven years of itching, these stories, easily counted on one hand, just don’t seem important anymore. To be frank, they are spots in my memory at best. Some details remain etched in my mind, but what is important now is how much I miss laughing with my friend, trying to impress my eldest brother-cousin, and trying to be present for my younger brother-cousin.
And what I beg of you is to take a small moment to step out of your current surroundings. Look ’round to ensure that falling apart with someone you love dearly is what’s truly best for your head and for your heart. For a spoonful of hindsight, of meditation, I could have avoided seven years of itching.