A good friend of mine called me the other day. He lives in Massachusetts and calls me periodically to see how I am doing. I met him at the Carroll Center a couple years ago. He was my roommate at the Center, and although I only roomed with him for a couple weeks, he climbed into my life and settled in, like a good book or a favorite movie. Sometimes, I find myself not really liking a movie until I have watched it a couple times though, and this was similar to how I felt about him at first. I didn’t know him. I didn’t understand him. I didn’t really want to actually. I just wanted to go to the center and figure out how to be blind, That’s it, just me, the school, my cane, my knapsack and my lack of vision, after all, I felt as though this would probably be my one and only shot at figuring out what had happened to me, and how to learn to roll with the punches. I needed to rapidly take it all in, process it, and move on. That older post that I wrote about, you know, absorb, adapt, and advance, man oh man, does that come into play more than not.
Well, all I knew was that I had a golden opportunity to live and learn as a blind man, and I couldn’t let a roommate get in my way, especially one who talked with a tremendous Hispanic accent that I could barely understand. It was all just too confusing to me, and I wasn’t able to handle the distraction very well at all. Plus, he snored, and I didn’t do snoring well at all. Those first few weeks at the center had me usually ending up going down to the Rose room, the main living room area on the first floor of my dorm building, and sleeping on an incredibly uncomfortable couch. Not only did I not sleep well those first two weeks, but I couldn’t even stand up straight.
Well, I instantly disliked my roommate for a number of reasons, but when he went home that first weekend, and I got two nights of good sleep, everything else started to fall into a whole, brand new perspective. I suppose it started when he returned to the center with a bag of goodies for me. Drinks and snacks, and he wouldn’t take any money for it. Nothing! I couldn’t really understand why he was being so nice to me. Why me? I mean, I didn’t even really know him.
I soon found out that he treated me this way because he generally cared for me. That was his nature. He was a good hearted soul who had a heart bigger than Newton Mass, and as blind as I was, in more ways than one, well, it took me way too long to see it.
I only regularly stay in touch with three folks from the center, since those weeks back in the fall of 2010. I have grown quite fond of these individuals. I suppose it has a lot to do with how close we became, all of us having visual impairments, but I also feel that there is a lot more to it than that. I have always found myself over the years able to become attached to other people, to the point where I could and would make an honest effort to include them in my life, I suppose as best friends would. I usually found myself growing attached to their friendship and although that in and of itself was a wonderful thing, I would sometimes expect the same commitment from them as I myself, put forward, into the relationship. More than not, I would find myself continuously disappointed at the outcome. I suppose I was expecting too much out of them? Perhaps I figured they thought as highly of me as I did of them? Perhaps I was a little naive with it all and didn’t realize that it was a case of two ships passing in the night? Perhaps I don’t have a clue what the heck I am typing about right here, right now?
All I know is the more I relax and take it all in, the more there is to take in. The wonderfully friendly relationships are out there, and they are all as wonderful as I perceive them to be. Even the little things make more sense these days. Maybe it’s because they aren’t all cluttered with visual input that has always distracted and swayed me?
My friend Carlos is the perfect example of how I have changed. The more I said, “The hell with it all”, the more I noticed how wonderful it all was, how it all is. Even though, over the years, when I tried to make the effort to build friendships, there was something that was keeping me from giving my all. It was like I was scared to let someone totally into my life, like there were certain secrets that I was always fearful of them finding out.
I have struggled in the past with certain inhibitions. When I was alone, I wanted to be around people, and when I was around a bunch of folks, I would find myself yearning to be alone. Call me strange. Call me whacko. Call me a gray haired, blind billy goat. I won’t argue with you.
Before I lost my vision. I seemed to be covering something up. I seemed to be luring everyone away from who I really was. I seemed to be able to slip on a different colored suit for every occasion, and for the most part, it was tiring as hell.
I don’t have that luxury any more. What you see is what you get. I am the stripped down version of who I was always supposed to be. Deep inside me, there stands before you that same scared little boy who has always been looking for a friend to share with. I am vulnerable, and anxious, and frightened and gullible and awkwardly coordinated and open minded, well, most of the time. I live to learn and have learned what I live. I ask for help and try to help whenever I can. I have learned how to love from scratch, and I really really love being able to give back even a little of what I have received. It does the heart good, knowing that I am trying to make a difference. It’s funny though. Most days, you accomplish making a difference by not even trying really hard. It’s wonderful knowing that the difference we make, mostly comes naturally in how we go about living our lives. We don’t even have to try. It just is.
Like I was saying, Carlos my friend called me the other day. He asked me if I had any good coffee. He likes to joke about coffee. He’s a nut. He was wondering how I was doing. He cared enough to call and check up on me.
I found out how he was doing too. You see, I really care about him, after all, he’s a very good friend of mine.