Saturday, July 7, 2012
How does one define a friend? Some may say that they are friends with someone who shares the same view on things. Some may say that a friend is someone who will listen when you need them to, critique you when you need grounding. A friend may be someone who completely understands who you are (…the whole you…the complete you…the raw you) when others don’t…someone who may be lucky enough to find a permanent place in the web of life you weave.
Many years ago I saw a sweet, pale, shy, red-headed teen that carried a backpack almost as big as he was pass me in the hall. I had passed him in the hall for many days….and I noticed something about him that he dare not share with the world around him. Internally, he bottled up something weighed heavy…a mental and emotional battleship. He had grown up here in a small town in Central, South Carolina but this was not the place where he could be himself. I recognized that in his eyes and I had seen it before in my friend Thomas Fortner….He was putting on a show….his family and friends were all cast members and had no clue he was an actor. He was portraying the good son, the good student, the good grandson and the good church following southern boy.
I cannot recall the first conversation he and I had or the exact “ah ha” moment that brought us together. We were the same yet different. I was branded “mean” and he was branded “sweet”. I had been suspended from school for fighting Patty Mabry. No one remembered that she started a fight with me, in her mind she was going to be awesome and confront the new girl….She had bet wrong.….I still remember that fondly because I snuck a punch in on Mr. Sanders head! Even to this day I can recall talking to her as I punched anything that felt of flesh…That felt good.
Jason Law wore a Members Only jacket, dark blue jeans, a colorful sweater, digital watch and a huge backpack. As he walked down the hall he kept his eyes either on the floor or glaring into the distance; not really focusing on anything….just trying to get to his destination without any bullshit along the way. In his mind, if he got through just one more day without someone picking on him….muttering a remark or just someone being a douche in general…it would be a great day.
Over conversations and going out to a movie or two, we never spoke about what I knew about him. We were an unlikely friendship, but a needed one. He was my escape from the bullshit that seemed to migrate my way….The fake friendships I had….the daily struggle I had to keep my mouth shut so I could just graduate from high school. I was the free-thinker that I knew he would one day become….the one who did not allow society to tie me down…I screamed “Fuck you!” when all he could do was disassociate himself with what he did not like. If I did not like someone; I told them…he would just not interact with them. If I didn’t want to do something…like attend church…I didn’t….He would go because it was the easiest way for him to avoid confrontation. I never looked for confrontation BUT I never backed down from it either.
I knew that he was gay…even if he was still struggling with the whole thing…I knew. Just like Thomas….I knew. Unlike a lot of the people we attended school with…it had no bearing on my opinion of him…I loved him. I became the verbal machete he could keep in his arsenal…if he ever needed me…I was there. If someone picked on him…I was there. If he just needed to talk…I was there…and still am. He accepted me with all my flaws…maybe dismissing some. I am sure he was one of the many that defended me by saying…”That’s just how Katie is…” I’ll take it.
After graduating from high school…we stayed in contact sparsely through the years. I would hear from so-and-so how he was doing or where he was…just knowing he was still alive was enough for me to know he had made it. Without caving into the cruel world….he had made it. He worked at Lowe’s and I would see him from time-to-time….we could always start off where we had left off. That’s the kind of friendship that will never end…like a movie on pause…we begin again….
I got married…had my first daughter …got divorced…met my Michael…had my second daughter. Then Facebook came around and again the pause button was once again released. Our friendship was again back to start a new chapter….this time with added characters. His life was where it needed to be 15-20 years ago…no longer an actor! He was in domestic bliss with his…I won’t say “partner”….they aren’t in business together….I will say he was with his spouse or husband…you choose whatever “label” suits you best. I will forever label him a lifelong friend.
No matter where I go in life I will always be fortunate enough to have known that friendships like this are very rare. I have always accepted him as a human being and he accepts me as a human being. Maybe if we all just took a moment, take a good look at our lives and know that, the people you come in contact with are there, at that specific moment for a simple reason. I am a better person because I have a friend like him…He may not like what I have to say or may think my words are sometimes too harsh…but he loves me…because I have never been anything but myself.
I want to wish Jason Law a wonderful birthday. I know that this is not one of those milestone birthdays…but sometimes you can give a verbal birthday gift to someone you are bound with…lifelong friendships are worth letting that special friend know just how you feel. I am not one to open up to people…I am guarded and in unfamiliar social situations…I tend to stand against the wall….feel people out….watch them…making sure that their motives are genuine…humane. Jason has found his voice in life…some people have never found their voice. Some people have never bucked the system and yelled…screamed that they are GAY….He has…but in a filtered , reserved, kind, sweet, loving, pale red-headed way of doing so. I will keep him in a place that I don’t allow many…close to my heart…for now and always.
I hope you have a wonderful birthday, Jason…I am glad you are a big part of my life…I love you for the human being you are…flaws…perfections…and eccentricities. It’s because you are not like everyone else…is why I have always loved you. Float on my friend…..float on.
Posted by TheBona FideMe at 5:27 PM