She Told Me It Was Okay to Cry
I saw her last night for the first time in years. She was miserable. She had bleached her hair, trying to hide its true color, just as her rough front hid her deep unhappiness. She needed to talk, so we went for a walk. While I thought about my future, the college applications that had recently arrived, she thought about her past, the home she had recently left. Then she spoke. She told me about her love -- and I saw a dependent relationship with a dominating man. She told me about the drugs -- and I saw that they were her escape. She told me about her goals -- and I saw unrealistic material dreams. She told me she needed a friend -- and I saw hope, because at least I could give her that.
We had met in the second grade. She was missing a tooth, I was missing my friends. I had just moved across the continent to find cold metal swings and cold smirking faces outside the foreboding doors of P.S. 174, my new school. I asked her if I could see her Archie comic book, even though I didn’t really like comics; she said yes, even though she didn’t really like to share. Maybe we were both looking for a smile. And we found it. We found someone to giggle with late at night, someone to slurp hot chocolate with on the cold winter days when school was canceled and we would sit together by the bay window, watching the snow endlessly falling.
In the summer, at the pool, I got stung by a bee. She held my hand and told me that she was there and that it was okay to cry -- so I did. In the fall, we raked the leaves into piles and took turns jumping, never afraid because we knew that the multicolored bed would break our fall.
Only now, she had fallen and there was no one to catch her. We hadn’t spoken in months, we hadn’t seen each other in years. I had moved to California, she had moved out of the house. Our experiences were miles apart, making our hearts much father away from each other than the continent she had just traversed. Through her words I was alienated, but through her eyes I felt her yearning. She needed support in her search for strength and a new start. She needed my friendship now more than ever. So I took her hand and told her that I was there and that it was okay to cry -- so she did.