Ode to a friend: V

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That time, after years of not having seen or spoken to you, when I texted you, all choked up in sadness, asking you if I could come down and live with you for awhile. I was so exhausted, so desperate for quiet, so full of despair and I just needed a place to lay down a weary head.

I couldn’t even call you properly. It just wasn’t possible to make a phone call. I could only text and I knew this was a pathetic way to ask for something so much, after such a long time of not being in touch.

You replied immediately. It wasn’t really possible for me to stay with you then, living conditions weren’t ideal on your end. But, you had an empty apartment in a suburb outside town. Would I like to stay there? It’s nothing fancy, but it has everything I need and I could have the run of the place.

No questions asked. No fuss. No expectation. No request for anything in return.

The only thing I needed to do was tell you when and you would arrange for someone to send me the keys.

I didn’t need to take up the offer in the end, but you need to know how much that meant, how bright a light you shone for me when I was feeling about in a dark, dank place. At a time when I was so cut off from everything and everyone, you were one of very few people I could ask — someone who wouldn’t ask questions, or judge; someone I knew would be discreet and who even after all this time apart, I knew I could entirely trust.

I was right. You were all of those things. To this day, you have never asked me why I made you this absurd request out of nowhere; I guess you knew I would tell you whatever I needed to tell you when I felt ready. You left that space — an always open invitation — for me to step into and talk my heart out whenever I wanted. You also left that space wide open and supported and loving for me if I chose never to talk about any of it.

Through these 10 years, there have been all the other conversations about everything and nothing; the catch-ups — though infrequent — where we would always pick up right where we left off the last time; the coffees and random late-night chats when we allow ourselves to be scared and vulnerable, ridiculous and angry and happy and passionate all at the same time.

Then, sometimes — just sometimes — there are those terrible, terrible moments when we’re lying flat out, our hearts pressed against our chests against the floor; when all we want is someone to give us room to be all ourselves, all alone, no talking, no nothing, just quiet, just a little bit of peace. And a friend like you sends a message offering a key to that room, for as long as I needed it, for whatever I needed it for.

All I had to do was ask.

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