Taken Care Of

She stayed for several nights, my friend without a job and without a place to live. I hugged her before she left, and whispered in her ear, “Take care of yourself.”

“I will,” she said. “I have to.”

Because no one else will take care of her, she has to, and sometimes she can barely manage to do even that.

She has mountains to climb and dreams to fight for, all alone. I think about her and feel  that I have the riches of a millionaire compared to her. I have all the connections, all the friends (not on Facebook) and relations that a girl could ever want.  Much of who I am is because of what others have poured into me, the conversations and questions and time friends and family gave, and still give, me.

Some words I will never forget:

I think maybe you aren’t quite ok. Do you need to talk?

When I called to tell her I feel bothered and bewitched, she said, Shall I come over so we can talk? I’ll come right away.

In an email: Tell me everything—the good and bad and ugly. I want to hear it.

And there was the girl who saw my tears and wiped them away with her fingers and sent me flowers the next day.

I know that I have multiple support groups in place any time I need it. I live in the reality of having safe places to go to all over the globe any time I need an ear and advice, a cup of coffee, or a place to stay. It’s such an integral part of the fabric of my life that I often don’t acknowledge it or realize the wonder of it–

Until I’m with my lonely artist friend and I see again that everything I have is given to me, and for some mysterious reason, I’m not in her shoes even though I have the same potential and tendencies toward self-destruction and alienation that she does.

It is true that relationships go both ways. In response to my family and friends’ generosity in taking care of me, I have opened my hand to accept the love they offer. It’s humbling to be weak; it’s embarrassing to admit need. But I’m not willing (usually) to refuse a hand that’s offered to help me walk a little straighter. It’s a lot less lonely this way, too.

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