We’ve been roommates for almost a year, and I notice things. I listen, too.
So I can tell: you’re down.
It’s a been a brutal year, I know. You went through a killer divorce, you left everything in the house to your wife and walked away with nothing. You’re paying alimony, and you live in an apartment that you can’t afford to furnish with much more than very little.
Also, your apartment is dark. Hey, it’s a really nice apartment. But there are a lot of trees in front of it, and they block a lot of the sunlight, so it’s dark.
Hey, I see you do things, so I’m not overly worried. You write, you read, and you play your ukulele. I know that you’re doing some stuff to make this school year good for the students who use the middle school library.
These are all good things. Keep doing them.
Still, I can tell you’re down. Yes, I hear you talk about having a girlfriend, but I also hear you talking about how she lives, like, 250 miles from you. That’s rough; that’s going to get anybody down.
And more importantly: your whole life changed, okay? I mean, okay, you weren’t happy in your marriage, because (obviously) there were a lot of things wrong with it that you couldn’t fix. So yes, your life is on a far healthier course now than it was a while back.
Still, though…the life you were leading was familiar. It had things that were comfortable, if unhealthy. You came home to someone, and the house you lived in had a cozy feel to it.
And that’s gone now.
William Faulkner once said that between familiarity and happiness, most people will choose the familiar. Personally, I prefer the lean, spare style of Hemingway, but it's a good observation.
So when I see you munching on your Trader Joe’s dinner with CNN anchors keeping you company as they help you feel connected to the outside world (somehow, it would seem that, for you, live broadcasts do that sort of thing better than movies), I can tell: you look around your apartment, and you say “man…I feel pretty damn hollow and lonely.”
Well, let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time there was a guy who didn’t have a home. He didn’t know where his next meal was coming from. He got into a whole bunch of fights, one of which tore up his ear.
When fate found this guy, he was filthy. His hair was all matted and tangled. He was covered in fleas.
Scratch my neck.
Now then…where was I. Ah, yes…covered in fleas.
And for a long while, this guy, I mean, okay…some good folks took him in, and yes, things were better. He was getting three squares a day. He had a room.
It was a small room, though. Not a lot of space to move around in.
And I tell you, this guy was lonely, okay? I mean, there were a whole lot of other folks around, but all of them talked about how they were lonely. And listening to those kids talk about being orphaned…it broke your heart.
And I’ll never forget: they were all talking about how they wanted a home.
Then, funny thing: one day, this guy came along, and I’ll never forget what he said:
“I always get a cat. No one takes the cats. Everyone adopts the kittens.”
And I tell you, I remember just thinking: this guy…this guy is my guy.
So anyway, this guy does that thing that people do where they kind of stick their fingers in the cages to see how various folks respond. I never, ever understood why so many others just sort of look at the fingers and do nothing. This is possible freedom we’re talking about here.
Well, none of that for me; I was going for it. As I said, I knew: this was the guy. I brushed against those fingers as if to say that that guy...well, as if to say: you’re the guy, okay? You. You’re the guy.
And you know what? I was right. This guy…he was the guy.
So whenever you’re feeling down, understand that I have to come over and remind you about this story.
Because you’re not alone.
You’re the guy.
C’mon…get over here. Gimme a hug.
Who’s your guy?
I am, okay? Me.
Friends to the end, buddy. Friends to the end.