wow. if you’re reading this right now, you should click on that “read more” button. which might sound like a weird request because i usually don’t like people reading/reblogging my personal posts, but this… this not only needs to be said, but read by other people. today has been one surreal moment after another, and although it’s a long story i think you might get something out of it. i know i certainly learned a lot today, so i’m typing everything out before i forget.
don’t worry, this isn’t a traumatic story or anything really big, but it’s a little moment that really effected me (for the better) and i think anyone could benefit from reading it. i even typed it with proper capitalization and everything so it would be easier to understand. thanks.
Today at school, it started snowing. I’m talking “lie on the ground and make a snow angel” type of snowing. Because of how slick the roads were getting, and how there were reports of a blizzard coming later on the news, my school decided to close early. So right around lunchtime people starting calling their parents to pick me up. I did the same, eager to get out of school as quickly as possible.
Then my mom’s car got caught in a ditch, and things went from awesome to shitty. She got out okay, don’t worry, but she wouldn’t be able to pick me up now. So she called my neighbor to come and get me instead, because her daughter goes to the same school and is a few grades above me. She called me to tell me this, but I had my phone in my backpack. Also, I was singing Wonderwall with one of my guitar-playing friends and couldn’t hear it from beneath our voices and the slick strum of his acoustic. So I assumed my mom was coming to pick me up like she had said about an hour ago.
Even though we were all told to go into our next block classes and wait to go home, the school faculty couldn’t seem to find me. In the hectic rush of cars coming and students leaving, they somehow forgot to alert me of this. And my neighbor left without me after they gave up searching the hallways. I was still in my classroom like I had been told to, but no one told me a ride was here for me.
Finally, after a few more songs were finished, I heard the faint buzz of my phone. It was my mom calling for what appeared to be the 10th time, according my “Missed Calls” list. Frantically I picked it up. My little brother was on the phone, swearing at me for not calling him sooner. They told me about the ditch and what had happened with our neighbors, and how I would be home by now if I had just picked up the phone. I was shocked, but I managed to ask them how I would get home now. My mom said I would have to ask around for a ride.
By now, the snowfall had built up several inches of fluffy white on top of every outside surface. The sidewalk had turned into a dangerous mix of frost and sludge. The sky was dark, the wind howling, and I needed to find a ride home.
So naturally I asked the friend I was with if I could catch a ride with him, and he said his grandfather (and grandfather’s friend, who will be very important later) wouldn’t be there for another forty minutes. Not to mention, my house was quite a bit out of their way, so he told me I should check with other people first. I resolved to walk out of my classroom and try and find other friends who lived closer to me who I could possibly beg for a ride from.
My search didn’t turn out so well. Out of the very few students left in the school, I could only call about five or six of them actual friends of mine, and none of them were able to give me a ride. About ten minutes later I trudged back into my math classroom and turned to my friend, saying he was probably my last option. He said he would be happy to give me a ride, and offered to call his grandfather to make sure it was okay. After about five minutes of agonizing waiting, his grandfather’s reception cleared up enough that we could clearly hear the man say that I was allowed to get a ride from him. Me and my friend could finally relax, and sat down in desks next to each other. We were ready to wait out the next half hour until his grandfather got there.
Song lyrics stopped peppering the air between us, and my friend’s furious chord strumming turned into absent-minded picking the longer we talked. And then, I don’t know how it happened, but it did- I started to talk about myself. As in, my problems. Oh no.
We started out on the topic of drama. Yes, the very same drama that had been plaguing our little circle of friends for the last few months. I, being a new kid, wasn’t involved myself, but I played the role of mediator for everyone else. For about a semester’s worth of time I’ve had all these secrets and obligations boiling around inside my head (and on my phone’s memory chip, as a lot of these confessions were over text). Different friends came to me for advice and I took it up myself to try and fix everything that was going on. Out of respect for my friends I won’t share the exact details, but let’s just say I’ve kind of written myself into a corner with the things I have promised to do for people. And it’s becoming very, very stressful. I don’t know what the right thing to do is. I just want to help people, you know?
And pretty soon, we ended up getting on the topic of me. And then it all kinda came out at once. I told my friend (who, although he is one of my closer friends, I haven’t known for that long and had only hung out with him one time at one of my parties) about everything I had been thinking for the past few months. About how other people were putting me on a pedestal, about how I feel like a useless friend if I can’t fix everything for everyone, about how I’m becoming a selfish person because I’m starting to feel like I should at least get some sort of acknowledgement for putting myself in this position. I just fucking vented all over him.
My friend was surprised, as very few people had ever seen this part of me, but took it in stride and continued to talk about this stuff with me. He told me he didn’t know what to do, because usually he went to some of our other friends for advice because he sucked at this “therapist friend” thing himself. But he honestly listened, and it felt good to talk to somebody about this stuff. It just happened totally naturally. I wondered if this was what it was like to open up.
And this wasn’t even the good part of the story, I swear. Anyways… his grandfather was caught in bad traffic caused by the snowstorm, so we waited a good hour more in that little classroom. We were some of the only people in the normally bustling school, so everything felt eerily slow. The only other person in the room was my teacher for that block, who always likes to play music from Pandora. He had it on a pop station this time, and while we were sitting there, “Fucking Perfect” by P!nk started to play.
My friend and I both started cracking up, and started making jokes about how this whole thing felt like a movie. And now, there was an inspirational pop song perfectly placed in the background at the “emotional moment”. It was just so surreal and, well… fucking perfect. P!nk said it best.
After a long wait, his grandpa’s car came roaring through the snow. A faculty member alerted us of his arrival and I texted my mom to say I was on my way. I couldn’t wait to go home- little did I know, my adventure was just beginning.
(Okay, the good part is starting now).
I introduced myself to his grandfather and thanked him several times for the ride. I also introduced myself to Larry, a family friend of the grandfather, who was sitting beside him in the front. Larry was an old black gentleman with dreadlocks and warm eyes.
The four of us in the car got into a casual conversation, one that carried none of the emotional weight of the talk I’d just had with my friend. This banter continued on until we stopped outside, to my surprise, a Kinko’s store.
My friend’s grandpa said he had to print some things for work, but said me, my friend and Larry could wait in the car. He turned off the ignition and the cold started to sink into the once warm barriers of the vehicle. Now only three of us in the car, we continued talking about trivial things until Larry turned to me and said, “You know, you’re a very direct person.”
Unsure how to respond, I thanked him, and he continued on to tell me that he worked in the business of communication, and had learned to tell a lot about people just from the way they talked. He then proceeded to tell me, based on how I put words together, what he thought I was like. It’s a long list and I can’t remember it all, but the entire time me and my friend kept looking at each other with huge eyes. Finally, my friend spoke first.
“You just described her better then I could, and I’ve known her for months.”
Larry found this amusing and said he was just good at picking up on the little things, and then I asked him what his job is. He had long retired from any paying office job like he used to have, but he said he works as a minister. But he doesn’t do preaching or sermons, he goes downtown every single day and helps complete strangers. It gives him joy to be able to guide other people to see the light in themselves- not even in a religious way, almost like a therapy kind of thing. He does singing with different groups down there, and every once and a while approaches a person who looks sad or alone and asks them if they’re doing okay. This job has earned him many friends and connections over the years, and he is proud of what he’s done to give back to the community. He said he just wants to use the time he has to do “the little things”.
I thought this was a very beautiful and noble pastime, and told him how interesting I thought his experience was. He told me a few stories of the people he’s met doing this work. I won’t repeat these stories here, but they were very nice and me and my friend were captivated.
And then. AND THEN. He offered to give me some advice. I accepted, curious on what he would say.
He told me what was literally the exact thing I needed to hear. Oh my god. He told me about how, while it’s important to care about other people, I can’t let everyone’s problems become my own. He told me different ways to help people without putting myself in obligating or confusing situations. (I might copy some of these ways here later, just for record’s sake and for anyone who might benefit from it). He told me that I’m young and I need to make mistakes so I can grow as a person. He told me I value my relationships with others and I am at my happiest seeing people connect and be happy, but I need to work on defining myself independently from what I have done for my peers. He told me that transactional friendships aren’t healthy, because relationships should be about give-and-take, not just one person taking and another giving. And a shitload of other good advice too, about body language and conflict resolution. He told me about the two ways of thinking, and how you gotta see everything as a system because nothing is in a vaccuum. All of it was exactly on the mark with what I had been talking about with my friend earlier.
I remember that sometime during this conversation, all three of us in the car paused to watch a family walk out of the Kinko’s. A toddler slipped on the snowy steps trying to keep up with his mom and old brother. He picked himself up and dusted the snow off his jacket, looking at his mom to see he if she noticed his fall. In all her bustle and hurry, she didn’t. The kid continued walking as if nothing had happened.
“You know, if his mom had seen him slip, he probably would have started crying, because he knew that’s how he could get her attention. Sometimes people don’t really grow out of that mindset, ain’t no shame in it.” Larry said. I had never thought about it that way, but he had a good point. A lot of good points.
Anyways, after about 20 to 25 minutes later my friend’s grandpa came out with the copies, apologizing for the long wait. We drove on through the increasing thick snowfall until it came time to drop me off at my house. I thanked my and friend and his grandfather several times for the ride, and thanked Larry for his kind words.
I’ve been sitting in my room for an hour since I got home, listening to different versions of Wonderwall and reflecting on everything. This entire day felt so crazy and interesting, but I honestly feel like a different person now. I feel like there was a reason everything happened this way. And if that sounds too cheesy for you, you at least have to admit that Larry, this complete stranger, came into my life at the perfect time with the perfect words. I keep thinking back to everything I’ve learned about myself and others, and in only a 20 minute car ride! I might not have all the answers yet, but this experience has given me hope that maybe, one day, I’ll know what the right thing to do is.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a good day!
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- timeforsomethrillingheroics said: That was such an amazing story, thanks for sharing :)
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