Register Thursday | March 22 | 2018

Like Staring Through a Lens

The inability to think about anything but the thing that’s before you. It’s called tunnel vision. Sometimes something personal happens, something that takes your focus, steals your time and thought, hijacks your brain. It sits there in front of you, like those creepy kids in television advertisements, the preternaturally mature ones who dance across the screen looking like their souls were stripped from their bodies, like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, they are some plasticine form of human; recognizable but creepy. You don’t want to watch, but one glance is enough to burn the image. You can blink all you want, pretend not to watch, but that 3 seconds was enough. That’s what I feel like right now. Those creepy kids are sitting right in front of me, and I can’t focus on much of anything else.

It’s not a story I can share. It’s not my story. It’s not to be put down here or even hinted at. A friend shared something with me, and in sharing it made me a part of it. Sometimes you don’t want the information you were given, you’d rather pretend it didn’t happen—say it enough times and maybe it didn’t—but you’re stuck with it boring into your head like a gnat. And it’s a friend, and now your involved, and sure, you’d like to talk about it, to make other people a part of it, there’s company in misery, isn’t there, but you know better. I should stop talking in the abstract. I know better.

You share things with people that sometimes you would rather not. But the relationship is there, and you have no choice but to go with it, to see your friend through to the other side, but you’d rather turn around, just a quick 180 of the head, “I need a little help here!” But you know the difference between those situations that others are needed, their aid and their perspective, and the situations where you were trusted, where the person came to you and you alone for a reason. You may not even know the exact reason, but it’s a part of the relationship, ingrained in whatever history you may have. The whys and what the fucks are all a part of it. You know the times you just need to be there, be the person who calls and checks in and waits because they need that and they came to you and they haven’t gone to anyone else.

It makes you value the relationship all the more; it makes you wish they had other people they felt they could go to. It makes you feel really fucking helpless.

So you deal. You go to work. You do your job. And you wait to hear that things aren’t heading towards where you fear they might, that things for this person might change, you wait to hear that things are all good.

If nothing happens, as you told this person not to worry about because it won’t, then no one will know anyway. And if their worst fears are realized, well then they’ll need everyone else then. The group will rally. Friends are amazing things. Lifesavers when you’re going down. And part of you thinks it’s all just drama, anyway, though you’d never actually say it to them. It’s just drama; too much made out of too little information. Just drama and worry, but you worry with them because you know that they are scared.

But the news has to come first. You have to know for sure, really, even though the math doesn’t add up, you still have to know first. And then, sometime down the road, maybe when your whole group is together, you and this person will share a glance. They will give you a look, a nod of the head, the secret won’t be so terrible then, because it all will have passed and just be a memory of a bad time for them. You’ll look at them, they’ll look at you, 5 seconds will pass, you’ll smile a half smile and they will walk past, maybe put a fist lightly on your arm, and no one else will notice. But you’ll feel the push in your flesh and the slight hug. And all of it will say, “Thanks, man. I knew you’d be there when I needed it. Thanks.”

Here’s hoping for the best.