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“She doesn’t like to spend time with me. Or anyone else. I annoy her. She wants to be alone. She wants to be with me, but she wants to be alone. She likes to be by herself. Other people make her anxious. She feels like she’s pretending all the time, she feels like she’s turning into someone she’s not. But she said she loves me. I think she still loves me. I have hope. Maybe she needs some space. She said she can’t see me, it would be too hard for her. That she would want to kiss me. I told her that she should, then. She said we should just be friends. I’m going to tell her I can’t do that. I can’t be her friend. I’m going to talk to her. I think it will be okay. I’m going to see her tomorrow.”

The dark, sad boy talks to me on the phone. It’s been a long time since anyone has ever called me to talk. People don’t do that anymore. People don’t have anything to say.

It all sounds like everything I’ve ever heard before. He wants to talk to me, he wants me to listen, and I want to help him. It’s not good. It’s not a good situation for him. But he’s young. He doesn’t really listen to me. He wants it to be okay. He wants people to be better than they are. He wants his solution to be simple.

I’m not very good at this. I stutter and mumble and he laughs at me. But he understands. He catches on. It’s all simple, really.

He says “fucking” a lot. He uses it as an adjective, all the time but still unexpectedly, and I wince. “Yeah, the fucking phone.” “My brother is a fucking asshole.” “This guy is fucking funny, fucking funny.” The cursing increases when he’s happy, and decreases when he’s sad, along with all of his other words.

I decide, during the phone call, that I like this about him. I like people who are different, people who have things to say, people who say things in their own way.

“I fucking love Mega Man.”

“What is Mega Man?”

“It’s a game. It’s fucking hard.”

We talk for a few hours. I look at the clock and the time is passing and he says, “Wow, it’s midnight already.” A button is pressed and we leave each other. I become alone. It is quiet and dark.

I think about him, and people. How easy it is to enter someone else’s life. How easy it is to affect them. To care about them. To worry about them. To help them. It’s simple, really.

“It’s going good, so far,” he says.

 

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1. Every time I get a text message, my heart beats a little faster because it might be from you. Or maybe that’s some weird medical condition? Hmm.

2. What would the world do if banana bread had never been invented? What would people do with all of their overripe bananas?!

3. Your goal shouldn’t be to save the world, just to help make it a little bit better. If we all do small things, big things will happen.

4. Don’t let people walk away –¬†literally or figuratively or both – if you still have something to say to them! It sucks, and it’s going to suck more later, thinking back on it. Be strong in the moment and say it!

5. They probably love you back.

6. If you have a positive attitude about it, it’s more likely to happen.

7. Horoscopes may or may not be true, but they’re fun to read! Right? Leo and Cancer are made for each other this month! How cool is that?

8. If you’re doing something for the wrong reasons, other people will know that something’s not quite right.

9. Stop assuming that people who walk around looking unhappy are unhappy! Maybe that’s just the way their face is – it’s not your job to tell complete strangers to cheer up! “Smile!”¬†Stop doing that! You’re just making them even more pissed, or, if they were perfectly OK to begin with, now you’ve went and made them angry!

10. If you’re unhappy with your life, maybe you just need to buy more pillows for your bed. Hey, it could work.

So, here’s the sitch. (I’ve always wanted to say that in real life but the proper moment just never comes up.)

Recently (about six minutes ago), I was walking down the hall. Well, OK, the hall was actually a sky-walk (one of those tube-y things on college campuses that connect buildings so no one actually has to set foot outside). Anyway, there I was, walking down the hall/sky-walk.

I’ll admit that at that moment I was being one of those people who walk and text on their cell phones at the same time. I was trying to, anyway. I don’t really text that much, let alone walk and text at the same time. We are talking high-level functioning human stuff, here.

Even better that I was texting this guy from Saudi Arabia who doesn’t really speak English. He’s in the English language program at my University. Basically, we hang out sometimes and, er, talk. (We are “conversation partners”. It’s all rather fancy.) So, when I text him, I can’t be all: “lets meet 2morrow 4 food-age, bro!”, or, “wassup homie?!” — you know, my typical text language. Yeah. I can just imagine the confused stares that would bring about.

OK, so there I was, doing all this multitasking, when suddenly, a wild college student appeared! AKA, a thirty year old lady in fancy pants (dress pants, you might call them). I was gaping (I’m sure looking all intelligent) down at my phone when I heard,

“Do you have a pen? – I could have?”

Me: uhhh… wait what just happened? “Um, I don’t know….”

So then I dig immediately into my (rather tiny) purse and spot the four pens that are hanging out in the bottom underneath my keys and my magic gum (I’ll tell you about that another time).

I have a brief mental moment of consideration. These are like good pens. Not those little BIC ones that are found on every floor of every room in every building on campus. These are my Pilot G2 babies. I have a red and a black and a green and a blue (for every occasion!). Should I give one of these to this random person – fully knowing that not only have I never seen her before, but I will certainly never see her again, AKA, this is me giving away my pen. I mean, she didn’t even say that lame thing that people say when they’re all like, ‘hey, can I borrow a piece of paper?!’ You are not going to be giving it back, though, and both parties know this.

So, I did my little purse-digging, briefly (hopefully not too long) stared at my little pens, and looked back up at her with a sad face, saying, “No. I’m sorry!” And then she walked away and I clutched my pen-containing-purse to my chest and ran quickly away in the opposite direction. The End.

 
Does this make me a horrible person? I don’t think so. The only reason I ask this is because just before I was walking down that sky-walk/hallway I had been in a Philosophy class. Dang you, Philosophy.

I feel like this is sort of similar to those situations when homeless people/others ask you for change while you’re walking down the street, and you don’t want to give them any – for whatever reason – so you go and pat your back pocket, shake your head like you’re surprised to find nothing there and go, “Sorry, I don’t have anything. Must have left my two rolls of quarters at home today. Sorry!” (I’ve even done the back-pocket maneuver. You think I’ve ever kept a wallet back there? Nope.)

What really gets me is that I messed up my text message because of it! I’m supposed to be helping this guy with his language skills, and I go and send him the following: “So how about we meet tomorrow after your class tomorrow and then maybe go to the farmer’s market?” Tomorrow. Did you get that? Well, then again, maybe that helped him.

Maybe this a life lesson: Don’t attempt to walk and text at the same time, Jenni. It’s just not going to work out for you.

Whatever. You still can’t have my pen.