I am an avid musician. I sing, play a couple instruments, and write songs. But I know that’s not normal. I don’t have a lot of friends or get a lot of sun. If I ask a classmate what’s for homework, they will brusquely walk away like they didn’t hear me without even finishing what they’re doing. But I don’t care. When we’re older, I’ll be going on tour and playing for huge, adoring crowds while they’re still baristas at Starbucks. I wish I had some friends, though. I used to have a friend named Miya. She was kind of my only friend. But when we got to high school everything changed. She started hanging out with the “cool kids” and we sort of fell apart. Concisely, we were friends and now we’re not. It can be kind of demeaning to have your ex-best friend pass you in the hallway and look at you with nothing but contempt. It’s despicable, really. If my emotions could cause me physical pain, it would be excruciating. You gotta give it to her though. She really is good at copying people. She perfectly emulates how the “cool kids” treat me all the time.
I walk home from school to find the house completely empty. “Typical,” I scoff. My parents work late a lot, so it’ll be a few hours until they’re home. I turn on my bedroom light and toss my backpack in the corner. It’s Friday, so I don’t have to do any homework today. I walk around the house and grab my laptop, my guitar, my headphones, some paper, and a pencil. I listen to a recording that I made yesterday. Not too bad. I scratch on my paper: “Must evoke hopefulness”. I begin to play with some hopeful tunes and flick on the TV. The news people were talking about the presidential inauguration this weekend. I didn’t listen. I never do. It just helps me feel like someone else is there. I’ll admit it. I’m kind of lonely. So I play. I play ‘till my fingers are sore and my voice is gone. But no matter how hopeful a song I play, dread and loneliness pervades my body. I hear the front door slam downstairs. I walk tentatively down each step until I reach the bottom. I see my mother and father looking exhausted. Dad is wearing a stain-splattered shirt and apron. He is the proprietor of a local restaurant. Mom has that sort of look in her eyes that tells you she’s been in front of a computer for far too long without respite. She’s an editor whose client goes by the pseudonym of Barry B. and has really bad spelling and grammar. They come upstairs and put me to bed. We briefly embrace and they kiss me goodnight. It’s 12:30am when I fall asleep.
The next day, while I’m writing a song, I hear the doorbell ring. “I’ll get it!” I call to my mom, who is cooking lunch and looking considerably better than last night. Before opening the door, I look through the peephole. After all, it could be anyone out there. But it’s not just anyone. It’s Miya. I’m skeptical. This is the girl who rebuffed me for those “cool kids”. I’m a resilient person, but I will not tolerate anyone who treats me like last week’s trash. I open the door. “Hi, Raina,” Miya says timidly. She’s dressed in an ill-fitting navy t-shirt and jeans. She looks at me in an honest, sweet, innocent way. This is the Miya I knew. She doesn’t even have to say anything. I rush to her and hug her with tears streaming from my eyes. We are both crying and shaking and sobbing. I don’t let go until she is ready. She finally releases me and says, “Thanks, Raina. Thanks for everything. I’ve been such a jerk. I just wanted to be cool, but I’m not. I never will be. And… and I see that now, but that just blinded me to what a wonderful friend you are and that you were all I ever needed. I’m so sorry.” She sniffles and I hold her hand. “It’s okay, Miya. It’s okay.” She smiles.
I'm grinning from ear to ear now. I turn away from her towards the kitchen. “Hey, Mom!” I call, “Do we have enough for four people?” “Of course, sweetie,” is the reply. I realise now that she probably heard the whole thing. Embarrassing. Miya must have realised, too. As we slowly turn to face each other, we start howling with laughter. We laugh so much that we snort and that makes us laugh even more. We laugh until our faces are purple and our stomachs hurt. I walk hand in hand with her to the kitchen table. Between enormous chomps of my mom’s delicious lunch, Miya says to me, “I heard you playing last night, you know. You’re really good.” I blush a bright pink. “Thanks,” I say. “I play, too,” she continues, “Do you maybe want to… I don’t know… do it together?” I smile and say, “I would love to do that.”
So, life’s still pretty crazy. I’m not cool, I’m a weirdo, and nearly everyone thinks I belong in a mental hospital, but I have Miya with me. My parents still work late and come home frazzled, but I don’t have to turn on the TV to not feel lonely anymore. So, no, my life’s not perfect, but now that I have Miya again, “not perfect” feels a whole lot better.