Have you ever taken the time to think about the amount of people who have criss-crossed their way in and out of you life? Now ....take a moment and seriously consider the truth of how many people that you can truly call your friend. The word friend connotes a lot of emotion, be it both happy and sad. A true insight is that while we all try to choose our friends carefully, the truth is that the ones who are still with us you today are the ones that were NOT chosen. They have been cultivated by years of many life happenings and shared experiences. These friends just appeared unexpectedly and the pull of similarities in your life made the glue that cemented the bond that you still adhere to today.
For me, I have been incredibly lucky to have the few long term friends who still consider me important in their lives. It has been a workout for all involved. If you survive the highs and lows of any kind of relationship then you have earned the right to be called friend.
As with any childhood friendships you never had the insight into what it takes to make a long term friend. I derived a very cautious attitude when it came to childhood friends. I had early an early experience that would short out my friend-o-meter. As with any neighborhood there were many kids all growing up at the same time. While we mixed and mingled at different times with each other, I truly could not feel close to any of them. I would put it down to them being the most normal and doing what the majority liked, and there I stood impeccably clean and unscathed from any dirty activities. I usually would bow out of most group activities and stand away from any body damaging sports games. I could never understand the need to pass a stupid oval ball around, then run terrified down a field to only be smashed face first in the dirt while pain surged morosely throughout your body. HMMMMM ............so that was called fun, I called it stupid and singled myself to ridicule for trying to stay safely in one piece. My indifference to the rest was the fuel that was needed to begin the verbal and physical torture that I endured by being different. I would rather use the term UNIQUE. I was unique alright, and those couple of "friends" would not know the unique behavior that I secretly had until they pushed the limit button.
Case in point: Being small in stature and height was not a positive thing for me. While the other kids matured at a normal pace, my anatomy decided to take a hiatus and wait a while before inching upward. I was easy fodder for the tall boys who made it their goal to inflict their punches on me and the fact that being small made it very difficult to fight back with dignity. For every punch that landed on various parts of my upper torso, I made a mental note to get retribution when the time was right. In fact I made it my personal vendetta to plan their demise. After all it was just a matter of time before my genie would bestow upon me the timing of such occurrences. While his name shall remain anonymous he was once a friend that I spent playful times with. For whatever reason, genetically speaking he began to grow as if Jack gave him the beans that made him grow tall, much like a beanstalk. With every inch of height, there also grew inches of distance between our "friendship". My candor of playing safe and painless did not fit his needs for future camaraderie. I had the sense to know that I would not be playing in his ballpark any longer. He decided that I was the queer one and made it his ultimate goal to do as much physical harm as he could when I was not on my guard. It took only a few times for me to realize that not all "friends" were true and I made mental note to be more aware in the future. My gut instinct would always provide the options that were needed to complete the problem that I was having. I would dread those endless walks to school knowing that at any moment this giant of a boy would be lurking around the corner to inflict some sort of pain or mockery. I would lay awake nights too afraid to let anyone know what was happening and would often daydream of how I could end this once and for all. I would begin and end my day with the hope that my guardian angel would appear and remove him from earth, but alas he was still there.
My prayers,however, would be answered. It was not in the form of a protective angel...no it's shape was far from angelic, but it did however appear as a shiny mirage far off in the distance. As I walked closer, I saw what had been reflecting so brightly off in the distance.
My guiding light was a piece of sheet metal that laid upon a pile of two by fours and old plywood. It was stacked neatly by the road for garbage pickup. It had been removed from a roof that was being redone and I deemed it heaven sent just for me. It was at that precise moment that I realized this little pile of wood could be the end of my nemesis and his torture of me. I had to hope that the pile of wood would still be there in the afternoon and I wanted to time it so that I would be there in front of it at the exact time he would inflict his daily dose of meanness. My anxiety level was at an all time high that day and the agitation of uncertainty of how it would all work out was merciless. I lucked out and did not get the morning dose of pain so I knew it would be coming in the afternoon, and for the first time I was looking forward to it. As the final bell rang, I made it very obvious to him that I was starting my walk home in my usual methodical way but he did not follow at that time. I began to fear the worst but I continued on my way taking slower steps just in case he did start to appear. As fate would have it, and just as I had given up hope, he appeared from out of nowhere. I had to think quickly as my pile of lumber fortunately was still ahead however the timing of things was still to be determined in those last split seconds. My feet grew wings and as I glided those few hundred feet toward the pile of lumber, I could see the piece that I had meticulously chosen earlier that morning had miraculously not been touched. I arrived at the pile grasping crazily for that piece of lumber and as his fist was curled to impound it on my body,
I swung the board furiously at those tall legs and cracked him square in the knees. I felt his pain through the wood that I held. Adrenaline pumped at a heightened speed throughout my body and all I could think of was the count of how many times he had inflicted pain on me and how determined I was to even the scoring. I was blind with rage and began my countdown as he begged me to stop.....I didn't....at least not until I was pulled back from him by a man who owned the house that the lumber was placed in front of. The man calmed me enough to ask what I was doing and I explained the tortuous details and my reason for putting an end to my problem.
I was totally unaware of the amount of harm I had done. It seems the wood that I had picked came with accessories ..... like nails on various areas of the board. There he laid on the ground with 83 nail puncture wounds (still shy of my 127 pain count)but still mine did not have blood with them. I was suddenly shocked and afraid but not one bit sorry. I helped him up and as he leaned on me, I helped him back to his home where I diligently explained to his Mother what had taken place and why I did it and she sweetly accepted my honesty and said that she was not the least bit surprised and was glad that I stood up for myself. It seems that I was not the only victim of his abuse. Regardless I still felt a bit of guilt and went with them to the hospital and stayed with him for support. After being stitched and bandaged, he surprised me by thanking me for helping him and promised to not bother me again.
It was apparent that I may have been small but I was dangerous when I was angry. We made a pact that day to not share with anyone what had happened and it was an agreement that we both kept through those school years. That day the old friendship was given a new beginning, and it would continue till we graduated high school. I was never bothered again by anyone. He may have shared his moment with his other friends, but I would never know. What happened on that day would be felt on many other occasions in my life. The pain's of friendship may not have been inflicted by a two by four with nails, but nonetheless it still can hurt. The wounds that are made by life's friendships heal with the passing of time.
You can have a scar from the hurtful things that may occur from having friends, but like the scar, it's skin is tougher and underneath it lies one hell of a story.