How to tell
There's a special way you can tell when someone is meant to be a lifelong friend. It's usually in a simple moment.
You'll know it.
You'll feel it.
Allow me to explain, for those who've yet to experience this phenomena.
I have a best friend. I have a few, actually. I count myself blessed to be able to say that the quality of my friendships in this lifetime are outstanding. Luck hasn't always been by my side but the day I met these treasures of humanity Luck was holding my hand. What's even better is that two of these gems get along perfectly and we often have girls' weekends together. What a blessing.
What's the point you may ask? Ok, time for me to get to it. I want to share with you a little excerpt of how two of my best friends discovered they were besties as well. It will also show you a little piece of why I love them so much...
This March I got Covid. I was sick for four weeks. It was hell. 'Nuff said. I had a 'Come to Jesus' moment in the midst of it. Stuck on my couch and incapable of moving, I realized that I had spent far too much time on that couch these last few years. Letting life pass me by as depression and I consoled each other. I also realized that one day my body will be weak and frail due to age and the shrinking of my telomeres. A fact of life. That one day I will feel this again and have no company other than my memories to entertain me. What does one do when looking mortality square in the eye?
Well, I'll tell you what I did.
I got better,
I joined a gym,
I changed my diet,
I started dancing,
I lost 30 pounds,
I spent more time with other humans and...
I starting taking Jiu Jitsu classes.
When my two pals learned of this plan they asked to join me. Curious about this strange new me who had already dragged them to a burlesque class which they enjoyed, to their great surprise. So, that's how two of my best pals ended up taking Jiu Jitsu classes, without me. You see, I went to classes and had a blast but then I left for the summer to spend it on the opposite side of this continent with my sister and they continued on without me.
One day, the Ethel to my Lucy met up with our now mutual friend whom we shall call 'Fearless', for the sake of anonymity. Now the thing you need to know is that none of us were in shape when I got this genius idea to sign us up for these lessons. Ethel in particular was struggling in class while Fearless surprised everyone by being a complete natural. She took to Jiu Jitsu like a python to a meal, literally, that's what she looks like wrestling men twice her size to the ground. It's beyond impressive. While I was on my soul altering pilgrimage (more on this another time), they were faithfully attending JJ classes. Sadly, Ethel was struggle and had spent some time at home practicing a backwards roll. Sounds simple but at our age, in our shape, not so much. After a great deal of practice she arrived to class one day ready to impress all with her new found ability to roll over backwards during warm up.
Everyone lined up on the mats and began rolling. Fearless went ahead of Ethel and of course, as usual, nailed it.
Ethel, eager to show off her new ability (the entire class knew she struggled with this), launched.
That's when it happened.
The fart heard 'round the world.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you have never farted in a large empty room with nothing but bare walls and gym mats, oh and about 20 onlookers...well, let me help you out...it echos.
Now this is the important part and the purpose of my story.
This is how you know.
This is how you know with absolute certainty that you have found a lifelong friend.
Ethel froze, mortified...but not Fearless, she was already standing and running to take her place back in line and without missing a beat she tilted her head toward Ethel and said, "Keep moving."
That, my friends, is who you want on your side.
Not one who will laugh hysterically while pointing at you, no.
The person who will give you the courage to pick yourself up and keep moving.
That is how you know you've found a lifelong friend...
(Of course, the conversation that followed, through huffs and puffs of physical exertion and a massive dose of embarrassment was, "When is Heartprints coming home?!" but I was on my own journey, making my own mistakes, and my own version of 'the fart heard round the world' but with no friends to tell me to keep moving. That was a journey I had to endure solo.)
I don't know if I'm the hero or the villain of my story yet, I suppose it depends on who you ask. Perhaps, as I put my experiences into words, you can help me figure it out...
I believe the accurate title for me would be antihero.
Merriam-Webster puts it as: "a protagonist or notable figure who is conspicuously lacking in heroic qualities" (most encouraging, isn't it?)
Reedsy mentions: "While their actions are ultimately noble, they don’t always act for the right reasons."
Upon further research (thank you, Reedsy), I've discovered there are up to (if not more) five types of anti-heroes. Personally, I consider myself the Pragmatic Anti-Hero.
The Pragmatic Anti-Hero is "self-centered to a degree and reluctant to accept the role of hero." Other than that, he/she is willing to jump into action more quickly when observing any wrongdoings, BUT will wade into not-so-honourable zones if they wish to bring their own goals to completion.
Now, there is nothing wrong with my reading skills: we are talking about the hero or villain of the story, not the anti-heroes and anti-villains. Allow me to point out, then, that the antihero is the hero of his story, even though his actions and morality might be suspicious and concerning (and even though readers might not love or like him).
Turns out that Sherlock Holmes himself (they mention the BBC modernization of him, but I believe other versions as well) is an anti-hero. Truly, you must read the Reedsy article yourself and then scroll down to the examples; I was fascinated (to some degree).
A villain or a Hero?
When have I ever been the hero? Was it when I put a knife against my arm. Or when I starved myself to become smaller? No, I am the villain. At least, if I consider my mind, me. Although, no one can truly be their own villain. Otherwise I would be dead. My only visitors the flowers next to my grave. So I must give myself some credit, though it is hard when I have spent my life doing nothing more than fighting myself. Trying to figure out who was the savior and who was the devil. What if the one with the knife really was the hero. Just trying to save the others in my life. The one fighting to stay alive the devil, trying to tear down the epople aroune me. I thought that I would have a one-sided answer. But how should someone be one-sided when wars are being fought. For no war is ever the result of an agreement. Even this has been a fight with myself. The ramble of trying to write who I am when I am nothing more than something. Villain or Hero? I have no solid answer, all I that I can say is that I do not think that any person could be just one.
Who I am is me
And that person I am alone
The choice always mine
To choose which image I shall hone
How should I decide
When will I know the part I play
In a world so fast
Mocking life with pure disarray
Ground is shifting fast
Dodging and leaping are my feet
Trying to keep up
On a path so vague and discrete
Bend and yield I must
Sacrificing to overcome
Barely on the beat
Of a rapidly changing drum
I don't think its me
Who really chooses who I'll be
In the sea churning
None are strong enough to swim free
I've had to be strong
In the face of those I hold dear
Courage I've mustered
When I only felt and saw fear
From within I've drawn
Deep from a pit hollow and sad
Fire from ashes
With strength I was unsure I had
All for what I love
So many bumps along the way
In self protecting
Hurt others I very well may
And some may return
Efforts we make to reconcile
Others will vanish
Bridges burned in a brittle pile
Maybe I can't choose
But other things are up to me
Perhaps who I am
Is what I see as victory
Sometimes there's triumph
With it comes glee and hard earned pride
Not all shall feel it
As no matter has just one side
My tale turns often
Housing both suffering and joy
Forged by some with care
Or twisted in a crafting ploy
Friends see me as good
Enemies hateful see me bad
I accept them both
Neither able to drive me mad
Were we heroes?
Here is the thing. I have absolutely no feasible means that will decipher that inquiry. And if you had to ask me, I would most probably claim that I am infact in a pickle.
Here is my epiphany.
Every story that has hero needs a villain. Every villain portrayed in each story is exhorted to be bad, to cause chaos, and to be hated, just so the hero can shine, because what would be the point of the story otherwise? So if I am in fact correct, which I don't query, the villains don't seem all that bad all of a sudden. And then of course comes the grates debate of all times. What is to be considered good and bad. What rubric do we adhere to in order to be apt to make such judgment, and who, more overly specific, is fit to make such judgment as to who is good and who is bad? Is there even such thing as good and bad, or are they just the mere product of human manufacture? I could tell you what I think, but that wasn't the question.
The thing is, in the end, it doesn't really matter if you were good or bad, the hero or the villain, of your own, someone's or everyone's story. In the end, the hero is not as great as he was set out to be, and the villain is not as atrocious as he was said to be. Because nobody has the same version of events, no matter how pinpoint accurate they are.
As they say, 'even the devil has his reasons but that doesn't mean he's right'
In the course of time, I have come up with my ultimate answer.
I am always going to be the villain in someone's story, but as far as what I set out myself to be, I would say I'm both.
At times I am my own enemy and become the worst villain of my own story because I'm the only one that has full access to the whole story. But concurrently at times, I become the finest and most staunch hero. Because I know my limits, my capabilities, and most importantly, my worth.
I'd like to think I'm the hero of my story, but I can't lie to myself no matter how hard I try.
I'm the villain, plain and simple. Everything I do goes against what I want to be, I'm supposed to be this perfect person, get straight A's. I say no, I couldn't give less of a crap about my grades, or what people think of me. I enjoy watching those that have wronged me suffer. You get what you deserve, I always say. I self sabatoge, and procrastinate untill an hour before a big test, or a project is due. I push away friends that just try to help me, though I couldn't tell you why. I just don't like myself in general. I'm the perfect antagonist to myself, It's kind of funny, and sad. I'm tired all the time, and I wish I could be an upbeat, always cheerful person that everyone likes. People don't tend to like me very much, and I hate it, I'm always so bitter and resentful toward life. I want to become a hero, but I'm afraid I'm too far gone. I guess I really am the villain of my story.
To Whom It May Concern
I have to admit I have no tact, but I have mastered the art of "if you have nothing nice to say, then stay silent.”
Which is why people think I'm shy. I don't WANT to hurt people's feelings, and growing up, I truly believed people didn't want to hurt mine.
Until i met Jasmine.
She was pretty and ALWAYS said the right thing at the right time. Everyone liked her, but there was something about her that made me uncomfortable.
In short I really didn't like her.
I was quiet around her, I smiled, was as polite as I could possibly be…but…I guess she saw through me.
Soon every slip-up I made was broadcasted across the school! If I was even a LITTLE blunt Jasmine would start to cry FOR the other person! Even if I said ‘please’, it didn’t even matter any more…everything I said was now ‘mean’.
I was now a ‘bully’.
One day, during lunch, the teacher made us sit outside in a circle, and I was next to Jasmine. She prattled about how I needed to be more aware of my words and how violent I was. How SHE, a VEGAN, was the EPITOME of PEACE. All I needed to do was follow her example!
As i was lectured, i contemplated how mean she was being by assuming that I was being mean. She didn't know me. As far as i was aware, we'd never had a proper conversation.
I guess that's the day I snapped...
“You know, you are so right,” I said dramatically with a small laugh, “I think I’m beginning to see the error of my ways.”
I plucked a piece of grass and set it on her knee.
“To be a vegan…”
I plucked another as though the grass blades were flower petals and I was asking if someone loved me.
“To eat the vegan…”
“To be a vegan…”
“To eat the vegan…”
I relished her look of silent horror as I continued. I just kept going plucking one blade at a time, placing them with the others.
At least she was finally silent.
In my story I am no hero. I was not the good guy. You might be wondering why. Well here I will tell you. When I look back on it my true colors the colors I wear today all started eight years ago today. Eight years ago December 9th. The day my dad decided to lie to get out of my 10th birthday. The day my dad decided to spring the new on the family that he was divorcing my mom. After this time my mom became quiet toxic. But the moment that actually forced my true colors to fully show is the moment three years ago almost four. I was 14 at the time December 18th 2017. My brother who was also my best friend the one I could always turn to commited suicide at the age of 24. I had lost my rock. My light, it was gone because he died. The I pissed everyone off because I was pissed off. I figured that if I lost my happiness then everyone else had to lose theirs as well. I just wanted to move on but didn't know how I had not lost a sibling before. Then to make matters worse not even a year later I lost my little brother. Which he was the one I turned to after losing my older brother. My baby brother was killed in a car accident. I was so devestated. At that time when my baby brother passed I was still hung on my older brothers suicide. Then hearing that your baby brother had gotten into an accident and then dying a couple days later. That broke me into a million little pieces. I stayed in my room for a solid month. Didn't come out. My mom had to resort me to online homeschooling because I just trapped myself into my room and didn't want to go out. I sheltered myself from everyone so I couldn't lose another person I cared for. When I did eventually get put back into a public school. Everyone teased me for the metal break down I had. The teased me for the mental break downs I had in class. I didn't know really how to function as a person after not one but two of my brothers had died not even a year apart from each other. So I made all the wrong people pissed at me. But in my defense they were in the wrong for pushing me over the edge. Now you know my story why I don't think of myself as the hero of my story. Sorry it is such a sad story.