Unlike many other friendships, I actually remember the first day I ever met Nicky. Nicky and I met when we were 5 and 6 years old, respectively, and my family was moving in next door to his. It’s an odd thing because I remember almost nothing else about that day except that I couldn’t stay inside without getting in the way and I was scared to sit outside because there was this boy sitting out there. Now, if you’re looking at that face in the picture below, you’re probably wondering how anyone could possibly be scared of that little boy. But I was. He was just sitting there. Eating his green fruit (which up until a few months ago, I would have sworn was a green pepper). Either way, I gathered enough courage to just walk right up to him and say…absolutely nothing. I just sat beside him. Not suspiciously close, but close enough that he figured it out. We were going to be friends. Little did either of us know that we would have many more years of just sitting in silence together.
I love Nicky. He has been my best friend for almost 30 years and even using the word love doesn’t seem enough. But we’ll use it anyway. Because, as Nicky would say, “Why not?”
- Because. Why not? – oh how I used to hate a debate with Nicky. I mean, there was just no winning. And I loved a good debate. But his answer was flawless. Well, at least I thought so at the time. If everyone was jumping off of the deck area where we lived and he gave me that look like “Let’s go.”, I would ask why and he would say…”Why not?” And I had no reason as to why not. I mean, why not jump off a cliff or climb something we used to call “dead man’s cave”? Any why not climb across elevated train tracks with no escape should an actual train come zooming by? And if someone questioned him or us as to why we did such ridiculous things, the answer of course was, “Because.” Then the person would naturally follow up with, “Because, why?” and Nicky would end it with the beautifully said, “Why not?”
You are probably asking yourself, how is this a life lesson? It’s a life lesson because fear did not weigh in for Nicky. He may have been scared. He may not have been scared. Either way, it was not a factor and it was not important enough to be one. Now, I’m not saying to go out and do these clearly dangerous things that you need never do in your life. What I am saying is, don’t let fear be a factor if you want to do something. Why, you ask? Because. Why not?
- Don’t be scared to be kind – As I said, Nicky and I have been friends since we were children and remain friends to this day. Despite growing up in the projects, despite Nicky having a rough, macho, twin brother, and despite being verbally and physically abused while growing up, Nicky was always kind and sweet and genuine. He was always kind to me. He never stopped being my friend. Nicky was strong enough to be my friend when puberty hit and the guys made fun of him for being friends with a girl. You know how cruel kids can be yet Nicky stood tall and would choose to stay with me when it counted.
- Enjoy the silence – No. I’m not talking about Depeche Mode again. I’m talking about how close Nicky and I were (and still are) that we could hang out with each other, in complete silence, and then do it all again the next day. I don’t know why. Yes, there was drama we had to deal with that tested us at a young age – testing who we would become and testing how true our friendship would be – and that created this intense bond, but the silent moments…those created strong bonds too. I can’t explain it without turning this into some touchy feely blog about energy and souls. And considering I know next to nothing about that topic, I won’t try. I do know that it’s something no one could understand. My husband is even weirded out by it. When so many people feel this constant need to speak or do something, Nicky and I don’t. Or at least we didn’t when we were younger.
- Remember who your friends are – this is not a mental activity. Nicky does not do as I do and reflect on the good times and miss people. Nicky reaches out to his friends. He calls them, stays in contact, drives out to see them, everything. Even when Nicky is not feeling well, he makes greater efforts than the rest of us who are simply being lazy. He remembers his friends as a physical action, not simply a mental pastime.
- Kindness does not always reap rewards but that doesn’t mean you stop being kind – I swear that Nicky is paying off some karmic debt for wrongs he committed in what must have been numerous past lives. No matter what, he just can’t ever seem to catch a break and for someone who is as kind and as sweet as he is, he should not have it as bad as he does. But what separates Nicky from the rest? He does not stop being kind or sweet or loving or considerate.
Nicky is a true hero. His spirit just never gives up helping others. Sometimes I wish he would fight harder for himself but I understand that sometimes a fight just isn’t the answer or even available. But I can’t help seeing that 5-year old boy whenever I look into his eyes and think, “How can this kind soul not have everything his heart desires?” I dread the day we have to part because I know that I still have much to learn from Nicky – my best friend and, dare I say, a soul mate.