It's funny when you think of first meetings. I talk so much about friends, about Tia. Tia's my best friend. She's the only one who would have me for years. She'd deny that. She'd reflect the words back at me, but it's true.
Halfway into Sophomore year. Nearly a year after the incident which shattered my life. The skinny bastard, I hear you say?
Just general, life sometimes falls apart, screwed up-ness. It's funny how your peers treat you when your mother runs your father out of the house at gunpoint, he leaves town, and nobody explains why. It's funny what assumptions are made when you have a sudden shift of personality. It's funny how things change when you let yourself be a victim.
I let myself be a victim.
Nearly halfway into Sophomore year in a mid-sized town in southern Alabama, I was alone as I'd never been alone before. I was scared of the world. Why? Because people exploit weakness. Especially teenagers.
I was getting picked on. Again. Messed with. Again. Pushed around. Again. People exploit weakness.
There was a new girl at school that day. On her first day, she stepped in and defended me. With words and with fists. I was in shock. Funny, that. Someone standing up for me surprised me more than the torment itself. Only a year ago, I would have been able to deal for myself. Funny how people let you fall when you break. When your situation is no longer viable for what they see as the requirements for their friendship.
She got sent home, of course.
As did I, even though all I'd done was sit there on the floor and let people do what they would. Funny how that works. Funny how in this world we are in, in the schools, the victim and defender are punished just as much as the aggressor. Well, possibly not just as much. I'm not here to talk about the state of the public education system, though. We'll save that for another day.
Of course, I had to go back the next day. Of course.
Doodled my way through classes, answered questions they thought I wasn't paying attention to. The usual. Tried to ignore people in the hall. Things slipped into my locker. The usual. The lunchroom. Sitting alone again as always. The usual.
Or not. This girl comes over to my table and just sort of sits down. I watched her for a long moment over the top of my book. Of course it was the chick from the day before. Of course. That's not embarrassing in the least, some random stranger deciding to step in on your daily session of being bullied.
She was new in town. On edge, especially after the day before. All I got from her that first day is that her name was Tia, and her dad had gotten transferred to the Army base near town. I apologized for the day before, of course. (I always apologize) She just frowned at me for that.
She didn't necessarily want to make friends at first. Said her family moved too much, anyway. Somehow I managed to worm my way past that, though. She needed a friend. She was angry, bitter, and far too used to leaving people behind. And well, at that point, my pickings were slim. Besides the fact that she ended up having my back in later incidents as well. Honestly, I said it back then, and I'll say it now. I appreciate the sentiment of threatening someone for my sake, but it's not worth that.
She became one of the best people I've had in my life. More than I would dare to ask for. Tia could do much better than some broken little... mouse for a friend. I was rebuilding, though. I always rebuild.
We were friends for two and a half years before she moved. He father got transferred again. All the way across the country. She got distant again when she found out. After all, we had promised to be there for each other. We had promised no to let the other get hurt. That we would see each other happy. And we both so hate to break promises. We talked. We decided to finish out the year like nothing was going wrong. We would stay in touch. I was stubborn about that. I couldn't lose another friend after Jared killed himself.
People don't always leave. People don't always abandon you. I repeated these words to her more than once in those last few months.
And we did stay in touch. Life went on. Things changes, we lost people. We gained people. We were there for each other through our highs and lows. Whether over the phone or over the internet.
Hell, this is the person who, when all of this started just some months ago, picked up and drove to Alabama from California simply because she was worried about me. Because she wanted to protect me.
People look at us and see what they want to see. A tall, strong, independent-seeming, gorgeous woman and a small, fragile, shy, dependent-seeming, cute girl. There's so much more there. So much more than what's on the outer layer of things. So much more than what someone might see as possessiveness. So much more than the shaky attempts to drive us apart. You do not know the half of it, even with this post. And you probably never will.