It was finally getting cold, but there wasn’t snow. The frigid air caused my throat to contract in the most masochistically delightful way, but there was none of that satisfying crunch under my feet as I walked, no downy white carpet of new possibility under my feet as I shuffled back from class.
In literature, or so I’ve been told, snow symbolizes death: in the winter, everything freezes over and the leaves die, along with everyone’s hopes or dreams or whatever. Snow has never been that to me, though. It has always been a new beginning. Crystalline white flaking from the sky, blanketing the ground and dusting the trees tells me that I have survived the fall and made it to an equally fresh, pure start.
In no hurry, I hoisted myself up onto a concrete ledge and walked along it heel-to-toe, arms out like a child pretending to be an airplane. It’s not like I would be getting anything done if I walked faster. The nice thing about living somewhere I know minimal people is I can behave stupidly in public far more often. I started singing, too, just for the hell of it.
The sky was the murkiest, darkest gray, and it felt like it was sagging down, weighing on me. I am Atlas, bearer of the world, I thought sarcastically, my backpack tugging down equally hard on my aching spine. On an impulse, I sat down on the ledge, hunched forwards.
In my peripherals, I saw Jamie coming down the sidewalk. Weird, I thought, since she doesn’t even go here… I stiffened up as she approached and sat down beside me.
“Are you… alright?” She asked. I realized I probably had huge bags under my eyes and was tearing up a bit.
“Yeah, I’m good,” I dragged my scratchy sweater sleeves over both my eyes.
She looked at me sternly. “If you ever want to talk, I’m here.”
I stared at mt feet. I’d been hearing this a lot lately-people saying they’d be there if I ever needed them, then ignoring me later. Standing up, I took one last look at her, nodded, and walked away.
I’ve confided in her a lot lately, and, oddly, it’s never made me feel any better. If I ever want to talk, she’s there, there for me to salt my wounds in front of her, and she extends an arm in support, but really she doesn’t lift me up at all. There’s not a fine line between listening and judging. There’s a thick line. But I’d never bothered to look for it, I’d always been too trusting. It’s funny that it took me so many years to realize the blatant difference between someone listening as a friend and as a superior.
Holy, holy, Jamie. She’d be there, no doubt, if I slipped into the corner in a dark room or my finger slipped down my throat. What a great friend I am, she’d think to herself, here to help this sad little girl. In my mind’s eye, I saw her chin raise a little with an air of superiority.
I’ve watched enough people I love hurt themselves that I promised myself that if I ever needed professional help, I would get it right away, pride and shame entirely aside. I would be honest with myself. And yes, friends are meant to pick each other up when they’re falling, but I don’t need to be under the auspice of a friend. Whether it was my ease and trust in confiding or just my personality type, I unwittingly gave Jamie a therapist complex.
But I don’t need a therapist. I need a friend. If I were to get in trouble, (which I don’t plan to), I would take care of myself. I need friends for the other purpose: to keep me company. As I walked away from Jamie, I straightened my shoulders to full height despite my heavy backpack straps, knowing that though there were people I could confide in, I could take care of myself. Sparse snowflakes began wafting down from the grey sky.