Once, on the other side of the world, I sat in an internet café and stared at a screen filled with bad news. I was surrounded by the unfamiliar. I had never felt so alone.
I wanted to cry, but couldn’t. I wanted to speak, but no words came. There wasn’t anyone around to hear them, anyway. So I just sat there, frozen, reading the words over and over as though they would change. I wanted to be somewhere else, or someone else, anyone who was anywhere else. But, as always, I could only be me.
I walked home, or at least, the place I was currently calling home, shaking. I walked in the door. Something was wrong. My new friends could tell. Still, I couldn’t form the words.
So I searched for them with my journal and pen. I sat on the living room floor and wrote and wrote and wrote.
Then the power went out.
And so my friends found a candle and matches, and placed the small light beside me. And when my pen ran out of ink, they found me a pencil. And when the point of the pencil broke, they found a knife to sharpen it. And so I continued to write with my jagged pencil in the dimness of the room, and in that darkness, I found love.
Because as sad and lost as I felt that day, as much as each broken item left me feeling as though nothing would ever be easy again, friendships were formed, easily. They offered me light.
I don’t need much in this world. A pen, a journal, a light to write by, people who care – sometimes that’s enough. Sometimes that’s everything.
Once, on the other side of the world, I lived with a group of strangers. We went on adventures together. Sometimes we laughed. Sometimes we cried. Sometimes we got lost. Sometimes we made discoveries. Some of us took photographs. Some of us wrote, constantly, everywhere. Quickly, easily, we fell in love.
The day I returned home sad, wanting to be someone else, they understood I could only be me. They understood I needed to write. They understood that a candle and a pencil were the best they could offer me. So they offered me everything.
I remember that day clearly, the day I received some bad news. It makes me smile. It fills me with familiar gratitude. It reminds me that I’m never alone in the world, no matter which side of it I’m on. The world is big, but in terms of friendship, it’s really quite small. There is no distance between me and love.
Friendship is a constant offering. It is a sharing of stories and feelings and affection. It is patience and forgiveness. It is seeing others as who they are, and accepting that is all they can be. It is loving them because of this. It is understanding. It is adventure. It is not noticing the room is dim until someone turns on an extra light. “Oh,” you think to yourself, “why was I sitting in the dark?”
Once, on the other side of the world, I was in the dark, so my friends offered me a candle. All my life I’ll remember that light. I carry it with me now.