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Flames held high on the night of January 7th, 2010 as the bitter cold hair swept across my face. I could hear my mother screaming in the background, banging on neighbors doors trying to get someone’s attention. I could hear my sister crying as she worried about the cat and dog inside the house. I could hear the dispatch on the other end of the line asking me to calm my mother down and telling me that help was on the way. I could hear the sirens in the distance. But all the noises seemed unimportant to the sight of bold flames towering over the place I called home for all 18 years of my life.
After that fire I learned that I was a particularly materialist person. I lost myself in that fire. The few things that weren’t in ashes were packaged and send off to a restoration company so that they could try and rid the smell of smoke and discomfort. I had nothing and I was living in a temporary house, not a home, as the insurance company began to work slowly to repair the house I had grown up in. The weeks that followed were a downward spiral to a place that I didn’t want to go, a downward spiral to insanity. I needed something to grab onto and I needed to find it fast.
Right after we settled into our temporary house in the middle of Plano and I quickly set off to replace the laptop I had lost in the fire. I needed something tangible to call my own again. But, I also needed something to use as a place to vent. That’s where sites like MySpace, Facebook, Tumblr, and twitter became an important outlet to my thoughts. Yet, I never really discussed my feelings, my life was falling apart and I couldn’t deal with anything. I was suffering from both depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and I didn’t want to address either of them. So I did what I do best, I started helping others.
I was constantly logging onto every social site I could find and filling up all my time with talking to other people, hoping that somewhere in the many casual conversations I was helping someone. I would talk to complete strangers in hope of making some kind of difference.
On one of these occasions of trying to help others through the internet I came across a MySpace page of a girl named Sarah. I spent a lot of time watching her post about her difficult relationship with her girlfriend and how things were never the way she wanted them to be. So, I decided to send her a message and let her know what I thought about the whole thing. For some reason, she took my advice to heart and after that Sarah and I talked almost every day. We talked about school, about life, about my house fire, and a great deal of additional things. I learned that she lived in Frisco, no more than 20 minutes from my temporary house in Plano. I was completely drawn to her. She had this attitude that made you want to talk to her all the time. She had a big heart, and wanted to help everyone just as I did. She could listen to someone talk for hours, just so she could come up with the best answer she could think of to help with. She just, had a different way of helping and it seemed to avoid less of her emotions. We eventually realized that there was a friendship brewing and that we should meet face to face before things got too awkward.
So, in late February I decided to drive my little silver Kia out to Sarah’s house. It was the worst thing a person my age could possibly do. I was 17 years old living in a city I was not familiar with, going to a city I was not familiar with just to meet someone I thought was a 19 year old girl living with her family. It could have been anyone, and I didn’t realize until several months after how dumb it actually was to go to a complete stranger’s house. But luckily, Sarah was who she said she was, and not some old man ready to cause me distress.
It was, by far, the most awkward night of my entire life. Sarah was shy, I was shy, and her dad was really rude. It was just a mix of bad things that made the entire afternoon completely ill at ease. We barely said anything to each other. Of course she and I laugh about the night even today, because we have such a good friendship now compared to that uncomfortable night. I left after about an hour or so of sitting in her room exchanging tongue-tied small talk. Once I left I could have sworn I’d never hang out with her again.
After that night I found myself driving to Frisco all the time. Because I was constantly dealing with my family in Plano, and school in Carrollton, Frisco quickly became my escape. I hid there all the time. I wasted hundreds of dollars on gas going where ever Sarah and I wanted. It was easy, to forget about life because of that one person who made it easy to forget.
I was lost for 5 months. So lost that I was becoming everything Sarah was, I did everything Sarah did. I listened to the same music, I had the same ideas, I smoked the same cigarettes, I wanted to go to the same places, I had the same friends, and I even began to lead myself to believe that I was also gay. Everything I did was fueled by the idea that Sarah was already, or would be, a part of it. I followed right behind her in everything she did because I didn’t know who I was or how I would find myself again.
I also needed some form of rebellion and she was the exact thing my parents hated. My dad disliked her sexual orientation and my mother hated her bad influence on me, and yet I didn’t care. I lied to my parents all the time so that I could go see Sarah.
Then in early July, Sarah and I spent an entire week during the summer doing pointless nonsense all week. We went to the park and played Frisbee in the bold summer heat. We got lost in a forest in Frisco where she ended up catching tiny frogs in the river bed. We went and got free cold Slurpees at 7-11. That week, being around her so much, made me realize that I’m not her at all. Yes, I love her to death and I think she is an amazing person but I’m not her. I don’t like all the same music she does, I don’t like the brand of cigarettes she smokes, I can’t sit around all day like her, but most of all; I’m not gay. It was almost like an epiphany.
I can only imagine the amount of understanding she had for my situation. I didn’t know who I was, because I had lost myself, so I attempted to become who Sarah was. And she let me follow close behind her while I found myself. Most people would have become annoyed with the fact that I was becoming interested in everything they were interested in. Most people would have taken full advantage over how much trust I had in her in such a small amount of time. Most people would have called me out; told me I was a poser. But Sarah, just let me be. She knew I had been though hell, and was only trying to reinvent myself.
There is still a great debate on where my motives were at the time of my house fire, because all my time was spent with Sarah, and everything I said was about Sarah. Many people started to believe that I was falling in love with Sarah. I might have believed that too at the time, but not today. Sarah was and still is the one person that has always been there for me. All I have to do is drive to my escape in Frisco, sit in her room, and just vent. Or, call her in a time of distress and she is there within the hour. It’s easy for me to talk about her because she is the only person I have never been afraid about losing. And, I honestly hope that everyone gets to have a best friend like mine, no matter how cliché that might be.