I have been AWOL for a while now – and I was doing so well! Anyway. This week is finals week. I’ve already lost it once. After 5PM tomorrow, I have a 15 minute presentation I haven’t even started for Tuesday, but then I’m FREE!!!!!! Until then, I must resume coding and pulling my hair out, and yelling at the library computers. This will be my shortest post ever. EVER. Embrace it. Finals suck. Take home finals suck even more. That is all.
A year ago today, I lost a friend who has helped me become the person I am today. I’ve written about him before, under the name “John.” I knew today was going to be difficult, but I didn’t realize how much. The events leading up to this week haven’t helped either. On Tuesday night, I completely lost it. For a good two hours, I bawled my eyes out about him. I am extremely thankful I was not alone during that time. I don’t know how I could have made it through. I was finally calmed down enough to watch a video one of our friends made around 2 AM. It’s an amazing tribute to him. And then I watched the other videos she made over and over and looked through pictures. John will live on forever through my memories, these videos, and the many, many pictures we have.
I’ve tried to figure it out for the better part of this year. Why? You had everything going for you. Through all the pictures and videos and in my memory, I can’t find a single time that you were not smiling or laughing. You were so full of life. But then I remember the other things. I try to forget it. I wasn’t in the same city as you and it was simply because of that that we didn’t talk as much. Not because there were serious problems. That couldn’t be it. You left us on a day where nothing was wrong. From how it was described to me, you had a good day. She doesn’t know it yet (although obviously she does by reading this), but today Rummy has finally helped me understand why. At least part of it.
I still think I should have done more. I’m sick to my stomach sometimes because when I did get back to school, you were already back home. You had dropped out. We had discussed that we wouldn’t be surprised if you weren’t with us for much longer. And then Rummy texted me, no more than three months later, to tell me you weren’t. We didn’t do anything. We knew it was coming and we didn’t help you. Well, we were surprised. When we talked about it, it was never your choice. At least not in my mind. In my mind, you were caught up in a bad shootout or you were hit by a car or anything else. But it wasn’t your decision to end things.
I talked to you eleven days earlier. It was Easter and you told me you were with your family and things were going well. I saved your texts from that day for as long as I could. And then somehow they got deleted during an update. I had locked them and I was so upset when I saw they were no longer there. I think that’s why I was mad at you for so long after I found out, though. You told me things were good. You seemed like you were getting back to your old self. Maybe I just wanted that to be the truth. I don’t know. I wonder about it a lot.
Even if you were ready, I wasn’t. I know that’s selfish. But I miss you. I miss our random conversations about everything and anything. I miss getting random texts from you and the bizarre phone calls and facebook messages we would swap when I was homesick in Germany or sad in New Zealand. Even though I was thousands of miles away, you were always there for me and always had the right thing to say. You helped me more than I ever let on and I wish I could tell you how much of a difference you did make because I didn’t when I should have and had the chance to.
In the last month, two of the people I’m close to have told me they’ve considered ending things. It’s really made me think of you. I don’t know what to say to them. I wish I could talk to you to see if anything would have made you change your mind. I will always wonder if I could have done anything to help you. I don’t want to lose more people, especially the way I lost you. I know you would have the right words if you were still here. You always did. And then there were the times you had the, well, not so appropriate conversations.
I will never forget the morning we ran into the our professor and his wife and you insisted they come with us in your quest to find a nude beach. And when you couldn’t find one, you made one yourself. AND you got the others to join you! I never thought I’d say this, but I preferred the Speedo! I remember the day you got it (and convinced the other guys to get them too) for one Euro! You were so excited. “It’s Europe! You have to do as the Europeans do. And they don’t wear anything but these!” Only you.
I’ll always remember the conversation we had in Florence that went on for hours and hours and it was just you and me. “Mom” was really mad at you that night and I thought she hated ME because we were gone for so long but you assured me that that wasn’t the case and for whatever reason, I believed you. You were right. Although, you failed to mention that you told her that you had been telling me all of her secrets, which is why she was mad. Not to mention untrue! I learned so much about you that night. I’m glad you shared as much as you did – it helps me understand some of the things you were struggling with last year I think. You were dealt a difficult hand.
I’ll never forget the night Mother Goose and I were in the loft in your room and you went crazy because One or Two wasn’t there as well. And then you forgot we were there after stumbling down those insane stairs and you started dancing in the dark that awkward/amusing dance you did until White Knight and Circle came in and you suddenly stopped because no one could see you dancing as such. Not to mention your other dancing, which thanks to a decent memory and Rummy’s all too revealing videos, I will always envision it whenever I hear Alors on Dance or see plaid, thanks to your obsession with those shemaghs!
I will never be able to forget (ok, White Knight helps bring this one up as often as he can too) the night you poured me “a” shot, filling an entire solo cup with straight vodka. Thanks for that. But you’ll be happy to know I’ve never had a better shot poured for me than from that night and that was entirely due to you. I may have developed a reputation among some people about pouring all too generous shots for them, but you, my friend, were the master. And that I’ve never met anyone who could be as coherent as you after getting Jewish. Although a friend of mine does develop a similar laugh to yours after a few shots- how appropriate.
I’ll always remember trying to sneak you into the hostel when you didn’t bring your passport to Switzerland and your only concern was that I wasn’t getting enough pictures of the graffiti everywhere! It didn’t even come close to phasing you that you were in a foreign country without any legal ID, all because Mother Goose told you it wasn’t necessary. You even tried convincing the lady at the desk that it wasn’t important because it was Switzerland! And then when all was said and done, you and I went for that walk up ALL those stairs and that really steep hill because you wanted to be a part of the natural beauty surrounding us instead of in the man-made contraption that wasn’t free. And the staircase to nowhere!
Italy and my life wouldn’t have been the same without you and now that you’re gone, there is a void that can’t be filled. I know you’re with me when I need you to be though. When I flew to Albany, I knew you were sitting in that empty seat next to me with your arm around me watching the clouds with me. I know that’s weird, but I also know you understand it even if the rest of my readers think I need psychiatric help. I know you were also there on your birthday when I had a shot just for you, on what should have been your 21st. I will always love you. I will always think about you and the amazing times we had together. I wish you were still here, but I know you are now in a better place and watching down on us, happy. And really, that’s all that matters.
I have the greatest friends ever. Period. So a few weeks ago, my sister sends me a text demanding my address. OK. So she’s not really my sister. But for all intents and purposes… I mean, she even calls my dad “Dad.” So. Sister. Anyway, I go to check my mail today and, yes, I has a package from her. And what awesome gift has arrived from home, but what you see in this picture! Yes, I have the greatest of friends. This goes on to the whole nice gestures bit I was going on about yesterday. Totally made my day. Maybe even week. It’s been pretty awesome. I got her a little something too. Her birthday was last month and her gift is sitting on my desk at home, waiting to be mailed. I’m really bad about getting gifts to people on time – I’ve got another friend’s gift that I’ve been carrying around since the beginning of March! I’m slacking.
I actually have been slacking a lot lately. It’s bad. I don’t feel like doing work anymore. I’ve lost focus. I don’t really know what else I would do – I feel like I’m always busywith school or work, but I never seem to get the things I need to get done finished. Little drawings of rockets help with some of the inspriation. I usually go to Disney for some inspiration too, but the hour drive makes it slightly more discouraging to go as often as I’d like. Plus my Disney people all graduated or have real jobs (or both of those things).
I started this when I was in class and my friend who sits next to me said “Focus!” as soon as I started writing. It made me laugh. I got a game for my birthday many many years ago that used to talk in this deep voice while you were trying to win and it would say “Focus! Concentrate! Keep steady!” It was the most annoying and frustrating thing. It made focusing even more impossible. And you couldn’t turn it off or lower the sound! But now I look back and laugh about it. The voice was amusing. But it’s stuck with me all this time. It almost encourages me now whenever I think about it. So I guess that’s a good thing. I need to focus more. My mind’s been all over the place lately. I’ve got too much going on and not enough all at once. If that makes sense. I do my best work when I have a million things to do. It’s the pressure of having to get everything done. When there’s only one thing due way off in the distance, I wait until the last minute. But if I have 800 things to do, I do it the second I get it. Go figure, right? I know I’m not the only one who does this. I know there are people out there like me! Anyway, the initial point of this post was to say I have the awesomest friends. And a really remarkable sister. I was going to go on and on about how much I love her, but I guess I’ll be saving that for another day – go ADD mind!
I can count on three fingers how many times I’ve been given flowers in my life. The first time was for my birthday freshman year from a good friend from high school. It was pretty epic picking up a box with flowers and a teddy bear timed perfectly to get here on my birthday. Flowers don’t exactly scream “Lauren.” So it was really awesome getting something different. And sent all the way from upstate NY.
The second time was from my boyfriend on our one year anniversary. I had insisted he not do such a thing. But he ignored me and went all out anyway. Not only did he get me these flowers, but he brought them to my office. I’m not a fan of PDA. I’m a personal person on personal matters (say that ten times fast!). So it was a huge ordeal for him to bring these said flowers to work. But it was sweet. Even though he didn’t listen to me. :O
The third time was yesterday. A good friend and I haven’t exactly been seeing eye to eye lately. We haven’t been fighting, we just haven’t really connected like we once did. It has kind of sucked. So yesterday we went out for lunch and had a conversation that was fine. We both did the same thing that everyone else does when they really want to talk about something serious but don’t exactly know how or when to bring it up. So we never had that real conversation. But then after we go or separate ways, we start texting and it ultimately leads to “well have a nice life.” A bit harsh but OK, whatever. Well not too much later, I get an apology text. It was really nice. We’ve both had our own things going lately and there was some backlash from that. But then I get a surprise visit a few hours later with flowers. And jelly beans. A lot of jelly beans. It’s the best damn apology I’ve ever gotten, I think. And I was content with just the text! Sorry people, I’ve been settling too much- the bar has been raised! Just kidding! No, I’m really not. But it was the simple fact that my friend recognized we were both in this not so great place and something needed to fix it. Maybe I should have been the one to initiate it- I haven’t been the greatest of friends to this person lately either – but it was nice to know that I really am that appreciated.
Such gestures really do make that much of a difference. Those are the best kinds of surprises. Words don’t really convey how awesome such a thing makes me feel. And you realize, even if you did before – just on a higher scale, how much certain people and some relationships mean to you. We should do it more. It’s a nice idea. Nice ideas seem to have gotten lost in society lately. Everyone has become so obsessed over lust and who’s with whom that the important things don’t seem to matter anymore. People who date and don’t hook up by the third date are considered prudish. Forget it if you plan on waiting for the right person to come along, let alone if you wait until you’re married! I know people who insist a member of the opposite sex wants to at least go out, if not immediately assuming the person just wants to get laid, for gestures as simple as holding open a door! NO PEOPLE! It’s called being polite! It’s this crazy idea that people want to help other people simply because it takes another 5 seconds out of their day to do something nice! Get over yourselves!
OK, so life got in the way and I didn’t get a chance to finish this post when I initially started it. So here we go, that same day (Thursday), I walk into a class early and the conversation between two of my friends, is, shockingly enough, relationships. My one friend insists that he wants to wait until he is done with school until he becomes fixated on a relationship. He was saying how he was old fashioned and didn’t want to date just anyone, but how he wanted to court her. How he wanted to become really good friends with someone before taking those next steps with her. It’s old fashioned, but it’s respectable. OK. I have issues with guys who think they need to do everything for “their” woman, but to have a mutual relationship where it’s not just about the physical side of things is something more people should consider. Of course some of the other people in my class who were also there started picking on him. One person even asked him if he was gay because he said he was focusing on school and his career (he’s in ROTC) for right now and once he graduated and settled into his job, he hoped he would find someone he could fall in love with. That comment irritated me.
I’ve been accused of placing school and my career ahead of my relationships before and it’s not pleasant. Of course I’m going to focus on school when I’m in school. My university is expensive! And of course I’m going to focus on my career. I’ve had the same goal since I was ten! I was told I was selfish and didn’t care and a handful of other things. So I can’t blame my ROTC friend for wanting to avoid all of that. But I’m digressing. Kind gestures. We should do them more. That is all.
Oliver Twist is one of my favorite classics. I’m not a big fan of books we’re forced to read, but Oliver Twist is definitely an exception to this. I remember having to read it in my Honor’s English class my junior year of high school and actually missing my stop on the way home from school one day because I was so focused on the book. At the end of the year, we had to write a term paper and so, logically, I choose Oliver Twist. My thesis was simple. Or so I thought it was: “Fagin is incapable of love.” It probably comes as no surprise to people who know me that I have a soft spot for villains They are usually my favorite characters. They’re so evil, you love to hate them. My friends used to tell me I was naturally inclined to evil because I was an evil person. Love you, guys. Thanks for the encouragement, by the way. But I think I like the villains the best because I have the most hope for them. Good people can only go downhill with their decisions. But villains? Villains can change. They can become better people.
Anyway, the term paper had a limit of ten pages. Do you know how hard it is to say why someone can’t love in ten pages? I easily reached the limit and wanted to say so much more. I find it interesting, though. I couldn’t define why someone cannot love in ten pages, but the Bible (which is what I used as my source on what love is in case you were wondering) can say what love is in less than ten lines: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails (1 Corinthians).” Wow. It’s amazing that anyone can love at all, to be honest. But we can and we do. Sometimes too much. I don’t think we actually get to choose who we love. We can choose to be around them and we can choose to do things for them or not, but we don’t actually get to choose if we love them.
A friend of mine was with this guy who I was never crazy about. They dated for several years. He said he loved her, but everything else he did implied otherwise. She clearly loved him. At one point, things were really bad for them and I remember her, another friend, and myself talking one night. Well, she was rather upset because he was treating her like crap. Our friend kept insisting that she end things with him. That she deserved better and needed to get rid of him. She agreed and would say she was going to end things, but when it came down to it, she never did end it. She loved him. Unconditionally. When I first met him, I told her my opinion of him and I left it at that. If she was happy with him, she’s the one dating him, not me. I’m not good at hiding my opinion on these things, especially when people ask me about them, so I let them know and leave it there. It’s one thing to recognize you deserve better or that the person you love isn’t in love with you, but it’s a completely different story to remove yourself from the person. You care about them too much. You love them. Even when you shouldn’t.
Like I said, I don’t think we get to choose who we love. We don’t get to decide if we will have feelings for a person or not – you either do or you don’t, whether you want to or not. A good handful of my friends have been struggling with this lately. I might even include myself in that group. Ending a relationship is hard. Even if you don’t want more, not having a person who meant that much to you at some point in your life is an unbearable thought at times. Other times, you can’t believe you ever gave that person the time or day. When they are in your life, you don’t want to deal with the issues that were there. When they aren’t, you’d give anything to bring them back. I don’t mean this for only romantic relationships either. This goes for best friends, siblings, all of those other relationships.
We don’t tell people we do love who are “only” friends that we love them enough. Maybe you get sappy here and there (and alright, maybe this post is getting too sappy too), but in general, we, as a society, don’t tell the people we couldn’t live without that we couldn’t live without them on a regular basis. Maybe the value of it would die. But when you’re romantically involved, you’re supposed to say it all the time. It becomes habit – what if you leave the house and die? You never will see that person again and you want the last words you said to your loved one to be something loving and caring. But why isn’t that the same with our non-romantic relationships? We don’t get to choose those people any more than our significant others. In my opinion at least. I honestly don’t know what I’d do with myself if certain friends were no longer here. I’ve said that to past boyfriends. I think I’ve only said that to one or two of my close friends who have been there through breakups and deaths and good times too. But there are so many more people that would leave a void if they were gone. My friend John, who I blogged about in an earlier post, for one. It’ll be a year in three weeks that he left us and I never told him EXACTLY how much I loved him and cared about him. How much he meant to me. That sucks.
We should tell the people we care about that we love them. We should work to accept and actually love over bringing up past arguments or wrong-doings – it doesn’t get us anywhere. The past cannot be changed. I’ve learned that we need to accept people for who they are – their faults included. Whether it’s that easy is another story in itself, but it comes back to love. Love never fails.