Forever My Shadow, Forever My Friend
August 1, 2007
Sleep had just sunk in, the comfort of my blankets and pillows winning the battle over my racing thoughts, when a soft tap trickled through the door. It grew increasingly louder, moving from a knock to almost pounding. Finally a voice accompanied it: “Open the door. Val, I need to talk to you.” I moved slowly back into the world of the thinking, pushing back my covers and rubbing the tiredness from my eyes. I stumbled off my loft and flung open the door, the bright hall lights momentarily blinding me. She stood there, half a smile on her face. The smile was a lie I knew well. The boy in her life has done something. Given the time, my guess was something not good, and she needed to vent, rant, and be comforted. Shrugging off my last bit of tiredness I ushered her into the room. Sitting at my desk, she began to release. For the next forty-five minutes I listened, hated, reasoned, and analyzed with her. She laughed, I laughed. She cried, I sighed. After she had shared her burden, and once she became aware of the time, she left. Nothing had been resolved. No conclusion had taken place. Just as nothing had been resolved in the many hour-long conversations we had had before, and nothing would be concluded in the many late night chats to come. These times were not about solving or clarifying situations. It was about needing a sounding board, about having a support system, about knowing that you are loved. In the end, it’s about friendship.
As twenty-somethings, we are straddling a change in our lives, transitioning with one foot in the comforts of childhood and the other in the great unknown of adulthood. It is a weird place to be, and during this time, our greatest allies are those individuals who are living the same transitory, nomadic life. We stay up until three writing a paper, think that eleven is a good time to start watching a movie, and know that naps are both great survival tools and recreational activities. We are a group of people who can be talking about the effects of the Progressive movement in modern society one moment and the next be animatedly discussing the latest development on Grey’s Anatomy. We take weekend road trips at the drop of a hat and move several times a year, from dorm to home and back again. We spend nights discussing the meaning of God and days learning that we know nothing. Who we are becomes a question that is answered with every choice that we make.
And in this state, with everything and nothing understood, we find that the relationships we have are some of the closest and most complex we have ever known. In less than four years, we have grown from strangers taking Understanding Politics together to old friends eating dinner together every night. We share with each other the papers completed, random Wal-Mart runs, and first good mornings of the day. There is no need to recap your classes, schedule, and routine with every meeting. They know; they are there. It was only a short time ago that our family experienced daily life with us. Now it is our friends that hold this all important role. Women find themselves calling their guy friends to know if they have any idea how to make that noise go away in their car. Men stare forlorn at the stain on their shirts, perplexed at this idea of Spray-n-Wash that she speaks of. We mesh together, forming our own dysfunctional family-like groups. We take care of each other when we are sick and knock each other back into place when we have gone too far. Through bad days and good moods, highs and lows, we are there for one another.
These relationships are made even more unique by the time constraint placed on them. In four years they begin, form, and then are thrown into reality. Some survive, staying just as strong. Others fade away, becoming sporadic e-mails and occasional meetings. Whatever the result, none of us can deny the impact that we have had on one another. We have learned about strength, grace, and diligence by witnessing such qualities in each other. We have dealt with the scars of childhood and the anxiety of growing up with their shoulders to catch our tears and their laughter to erase our fears. They have debated our weak ideas of life into solid concepts of truth and goodness. Graduation may come and take away what is familiar about these friendships, the consistency and small moments. But twenty years down the road, it cannot be doubted that these strange and amazing people have helped to mold us into the people we will have become. We will forever be the shadowing behind one another’s character. I know this to be true and consider myself blessed to realize it now before it is gone.
A few days after that late-night rant session, another knock would be heard through a dorm door. This time my tears would fall and her words would console. Each of us being able to flow so easily from comforter to comforted; each of us understanding the fundamental role that our dear friends, our new family, play in our lives. Through our friendships we have come to see that life is a series of moments and incidents pieced together by the one’s we love and the things we know. To know how precious it is to love is the greatest of gifts, and to share it with people who have forever changed you is priceless.
Valentina Wysocki is a junior from Lorain, Ohio, majoring in Political Science and History.