It’s hard to put in words how someone can change your life. Since I met her, however, Abby has done just that.
When I started my freshman year of high school, making friends was my biggest worry. That had always been difficult for me—I was introverted and awkward. I trudged to classes unaccompanied, ate meals alone, and avoided conversation. A few weeks into the school year, however, everything changed.
I was studying in the library when, all of a sudden, a girl loudly called to me from across the room: “Hey! You in the blue shirt! Don’t I know you from choir?”
I looked up, confused. “Um…yeah. I…uh…think so. I’m Adam.”
The girl wasn’t fazed by my uncomfortable reply. Instead, she skipped over to me, introduced herself as Abby, and invited me to join her and some friends in a group planning an act for the school talent show. Taken by surprise, I timidly agreed.
We left immediately for the music building. She skipped. I, somewhat embarrassed by her sprightliness, trailed behind. We found a practice room, and four other singers soon joined us. Hours went by as the group of us attempted to learn the act. Eventually, everyone departed but Abby and me. We abandoned the song-learning pursuit. Instead, Abby pulled a huge binder out of her backpack. “Do you like show tunes?” she asked. I couldn’t contain my excitement. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing through the binder, which was full of Broadway sheet music. I learned that Abby had synesthesia; when she heard notes, she saw corresponding colors. Music was her lifeblood—it was mine too. By dinnertime, we were already wondering aloud how we had managed to live so long without each other. The connection was undeniable, and it only deepened from there.
Over the rest of the year, Abby and I were inseparable. We ate our meals together, studied in the library together, and spent our weekends together. Abby was the first person I completely trusted. She was also the first person to whom I came out as gay. When I told her, I started shaking. She brought me into a long, warm hug. Even now, I think about how safe and happy I felt in that moment. Abby helped me to find the confidence I needed to accept myself for who I was. She taught me not to worry about what other people thought of me, and she taught me to enjoy self-expression.
Unfortunately, Abby and I grew apart as high school went on. Although we stayed acquaintances, we lost the intimate connection that had filled me with so much joy. Homework, romance, and extracurricular pursuits had managed to wedge themselves between us—I have never been able to truly understand how. What I do know is that, when the friendship started to decline, I did nothing to revive it. Because our relationship had started so naturally and spontaneously, I had erroneously assumed that our connection would never weaken. I had forgotten that friendships require the effort of both parties in order to stay strong. And that is one of my biggest regrets: I let our friendship die.
I recently started to reach out to Abby again in the hopes of rekindling our friendship. Hopefully we will be able to reestablish our bonds. It will take some effort, but I know it will be worth it. Friendship, after all, is worth fighting for.
If you live in the Chicago area, come see the 73rd Annual Dolphin Show, Titanic, at Northwestern University!
Shout outs to Michaela and Sam!