The light at the end of the tunnel

Monday morning, 10:45am:

A quiet morning at work. My phone buzzed.

I read the message and set my phone down on my desk.

I cried a little.

2004:

I was fourteen. I had just broken up with my first boyfriend of eighteen months, and I had a crush on a boy eighteen months younger than me. It was ludicrously embarrassing and I was the laughingstock of the school. I would sit with him at lunch time and we would bond over music, cricket and each other’s quirks.

Shortly before the apparent two weeks we “dated” (we didn’t, and I wouldn’t call him an ex-boyfriend), I moved my blog from LiveJournal to a niche, semi-private location on the now-defunct MSN Spaces. It was an odd place to blog, very structured, not very unique, and basically a silly little mess to blog on, but it was a change from the rubbish I wrote on LiveJournal, which was mostly in chatspeak. My blogs were often three thousand words long and I would post twice a month at most.

I moved on quickly; he liked someone else, and wanted to focus on his band. A short time later, I met my ex-boyfriend Kiah, who was two-and-a-half years younger than me. We worked together on the school newsletter until I developed a crush on him and somehow, we ended up together. I was an even bigger laughingstock.

In between this odd bullying and mess, I had troubles at home, and I was still trying to find my place as a skinny, short, long-haired, shy ballet and jazz dancer in a school full of similarly intelligent-minded students. I developed an interest in web and graphic design, and it made me wake up at 3:00am because I loved the way it made my brainwaves dance.

Someone commented on my blog. One of my ridiculous long blog posts full of nonsense. It wasn’t my best friend Lilian, nor my friend Lucy or my classmate Jake. It wasn’t anyone I knew from school. I was only aware of people from school reading my blog, so when this person named Zack commented on my blog post, consoling me about how horrible things were at home and how strangely I felt for someone so much younger than me — I felt like someone actually understood me for once.

I don’t remember the first time we actually talked.

I started self-harming around fourteen. Everything was difficult and friendships were always hard to maintain. At this stage, I had no one I could call my best friend. I felt very alone at times.

My blog was named Consolation in a Jar, because it became this notion for me that one day, when I attempted suicide, people would bring me consolation in plastic or glass jars. Every time I cut myself, it only hurt even more. I hoped that someone would give me a little bit of consolation, tell me that everything would get better. At home, it just seemed to get worse, and harder to deal with. I felt very alone at school. I cried a lot.

The only person who ever left a jar was Zack. There would be blog posts where I would pour my heart out completely, and I would return two weeks later to find that Zack left a comment.

I fell in mid-2006; Kiah broke up with me and I was devastated. (He humiliated me by breaking up with me before I was supposed to go on stage for a vocal group performance. In a nutshell, I cried under the stars and never made it to the stage.) We were very on-off, and I would write soppy shit about how I wanted him back, and I tried, and it worked sometimes, until we broke up completely by the end of 2006. I know, Zack only left comments, but to me they were everything. Eventually, I guess, he became my rock, though I don’t think he ever knew. I don’t think I ever knew. Or if I did, I couldn’t admit it. Someone a fair distance away in the next major city, several years older than me, who I never met, was my rock. Maybe I felt lame saying that, because at fifteen, anyone could judge you for anything you said. And I was done with being a laughingstock.

Zack never judged me for who I was, what I did, or what I said. He cared about me and I found myself rambling to him a lot about random things. I found myself talking to him when I was on the verge of tears. I found myself laughing at his randomness (it hasn’t changed), admiring his art, for my ability to draw was terrible as toads. I don’t think we had very much in common, but we chatted about a lot of things. I think at some point I wondered if I’d ever go to Melbourne or if we’d ever meet.

The gaps between our conversations became larger. Our conversations began to consist of catchups and life updates, which progressed from “I bought a doughnut” to “I just started university”, “I found a new game” to “I have my school formal”. Or something like that.

Some time during my first years of university, among my dozens of email address changes and moving my blog from place to place, Zack and I didn’t talk. I guess we just lost touch.

It wasn’t until the beginning of this year that Dominik mentioned zombies at work, and a switch immediately went off in my brain and I remembered Zack. My hands escaped to my email client and I put the cursor in the To: field, but I couldn’t remember. I’d deleted my previous emails and I had to rely on my memory to delve into what was there. My alter ego asked all the questions. Would he remember me? Would he give a shit? Is he even alive?

2013:

I finally met Zack four days ago. We saw Gold Fields together, and he tagged along and kept me company despite never having heard of the band. We talked random shit over dinner. I only had a salad because my appetite has been fucked lately. I looked through his sketchbook, and there was the dog he’d drawn me a few months ago. On the way out, it rained heavily, and it forced us to squish together under an umbrella. But that was okay.

We had a bit of cider, and on the train we caught up about everything and anything. On the weekend we just bummed around in his hotel room talking. About anything. And everything. And it was then I realised, there were so few silences between us. When we talked, we always had something to talk about. We could laugh about ridiculous things that happened to us in the past. We could be serious about sad things and sad about serious things, or whatever we wanted. I didn’t have to hide a thing from him because he still never judged me.

And in a weekend, we filled in the strange three-year gap in our friendship.

I told myself before he even came to Sydney that I wouldn’t miss him that much.

I lost that bet with myself because I cried.

Something feels empty when I walk through the station after I get off the bus. It feels weird that it’s stopped raining. I can’t look out the window on the train without feeling like my soul has just fallen out of my heart. I can’t walk around the city without the breeze cutting me a little too coldly and the clouds standing out more than they actually do. My eyes are watering and my fingers are shaking because I miss Zack. And however painless that goodbye was, the emotions have still burned into me and set themselves on fire.

Because it’s not every day that you meet someone who has watched you grow up, helped you out of depression, made you smile, laugh, and eventually cry. Zack, ily.

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Because it’s not every day that you meet someone who has watched you grow up, helped you out of depression, made you smile, laugh, and eventually cry.

Well… this hit home. And I’m sure you’ll know what I’m referring to.

You’re not alone, Georgie.

That’s all I’ll say.

♥️

That was beautiful. Writer-me is jealous, and he loved the beginning of the post.

Your friend-me just wants to give you a reassuring hug. *hug*

Being a teenager isn’t as fun as people make it out to be sometimes. We’re growing up, in more senses than one, and trying to understand what’s happening with ourselves. And then there’s everything life is trying to throw at you. School. Boyfriends, girlfriends. Family. Bullies.

Being a teenager isn’t easy. I wouldn’t want to go back.

But it’s good when there’s someone there for you. You had Zack. I had Shaz, Isabelle and Kaede, to name a few. Nowadays I only talk to Shaz. Isabelle and Kaede, no idea if they’re happy. If they’re doing okay. If they’re even alive. And I have no way of contacting them. Do they remember me?

And Shaz has gone back home. I said goodbye at the airport, a quick tight hug before she walked through the gates with her dad. Won’t see her again for at least a year. I know many people whom I could consider as the sisters I never had (or extra brothers) but Shaz is THE older sister I never had. I miss her.

Goodbyes may be painless, somehow, by some miracle. But the missing never is, is it? There can’t be happiness without pain, but also there can’t be pain without happiness.

Maybe goodbyes aren’t painless because they’re not really goodbyes. Deep down, somewhere you know that it’s more of a ‘see you later alligator.’ And the pain that follows is us not wanting to wait. But we must.

And that’s fine. Because YANA. Never.

/rant

That was. Touching. I never realised I was so important to you growing up. But I’m glad to have made you feel better. Because that was my intention when I talked to you. My whole life I’ve craved redemption. I’ve wanted to save someone to atone for shit things in my past that technically aren’t my fault but that I couldn’t not feel guilty about anyway. And for the first time I feel like I genuinely earned redemption. Thank you Georgie :’)

Not even going to pretend that I didn’t cry reading this.
And then I read Zack’s comment and cried some more.
Beautifully written.

First off, this post makes me feels so…. I can’t even put what I feel into words. I feel the depth of your words, every bits of them, and I really really like re-reading this post over and over again. From the way you started this entry, how you described the adolescent beginning, etc to the point where you just went deeper up to the last point of this entry… I like every word I’ve read. Not trying to flatter or anything, really.

I…like the fact that you’re brave enough to..you know, write here publicly the day you started cutting and whatnot because I don’t (at least I hope, not yet) have the courage to bluntly confess like that in my public blog. I’m scared of being judged because it’s happening in real life and yeah, I’m just reading what you wrote in admiration while occasionally smiling.

Honestly, I’m really really happy you found someone, a special friend like Zack who really pulled you out of those crazy shit… I once had a really close online friend and we always chatted on yahoo or even messaged each other everyday but now, she’s gone…just like that. Probably busy with life and college, not that I’d blame anything or her but yea, sometimes I really want the “closeness” to happen again… so I can feel….I don’t know, motivated for something or someone, maybe? Hm.. 😞

Anyway, this post is really touching (ugh, sorry for the lack of word..). It’s nice to hear that the two of you finally, finally met. It’s amazing what online friend(s) can do sometimes; I’ve come to realize how online friend(s) is/are probably what I need during those depressing days…instead of real life people. Truth be told, I’m envious of your situation but I don’t think it’s what I’m supposed to be feeling.. maybe I always ask or I’ve been asking for too much but I never actually see which friend is/will be there for me, haha. Funny because I have trust issues but I want a Zack for myself. 😓

Nonetheless, putting those aside, I’m happy that you found your Zack ♥️

My problem is that I trusted people far too easily, which led me to being hurt. Having no one that you can trust is awful, too. I have to admit, when I remembered Zack I felt awful that we hadn’t spoken in a while, because he had meant so much to me. It doesn’t matter who you consider your close friends or who you can trust, but I will agree with you that sometimes you can be closer to people you know online because they are less likely to judge you based on superficial qualities, compared to someone you meet in real life.

This is beautiful. Despite all the struggles you went through, you had someone by your side, and that to me is the most precious thing to experience. I can’t imagine life without my best friend, and I imagine that’s how you feel about Zack.

WOW! Makes me realize, you definitely cannot expect who you can fall for instantly. This was a very touching story and I felt your pain, then reading Zack’s comment to see that yes, he still commenting here. I am sure you can build a stronger friendship with Zack.

I think that these two emoticons describe my feelings after reading this post: 😭 🙂 I’m not sure how to put the feelings into words.

You are truly a wonderful success story. I hope that other people with similar issues to your old ones read this and live better lives because of it.

I loved this- I loved reading this post. I can’t exactly figure out how to say it, but for lack of better words, I’m glad you have a wonderful memory to accompany such a tough time in life 🙂 I just find it amazing that just one person can make such a huge impact- I never really believed it could be true but your story makes me believe it a lot more than just a bit.

I totally loved your blog… it’s written so beautifully… you are just awesome in writing! It’s really great to meet people who really understand you and have such an impact in your life that you can never ever forget them… and Zack’s comment is so touching!

I don’t know what else to say, I am so glad that you could have that person in your life that was able to help you so much and be there for you and not only that, but be able to reconnect with them and it really mean so much.

It is precious the friendships that are on a soul level, that allow us to grow and really do save us.

*silently rolls over this post and Zack’s comment to it*

I’m so, so happy that even despite all the crap you went through in high school, Zack stayed with you, and he’s still with you, because any sort of friendship is so difficult to maintain but you’ve managed to get through it all. Your high school sounded like a group of dickwads; but you’ve still managed to get through it all! ♥️ Your friendship with Zack is precious, and I think it’s wonderful that a person like him exists, and even better that someone – you – have formed such a unique relationship with him.

That last paragraph is what really made my tears fall. You’re really good at writing. I think that this is actually my favorite kind of writing from you — when you do it from the heart, with all of your emotions being tugged out. Your words are delicately strong, and I hung onto each one.

Zack sounds like an amazing person. I’m glad you got to meet him, because it sounds like he played a large part in your life. Hopefully you two will be able to stay in touch again, and possibly even hang out more later on.

Nearly two months late, but I’m here at last.

Well, it was worth it. ♥️ That’s a Friendship with a capital ‘F’, Georgie, and I sincerely hope your paths are going to cross again and that you’ll hear from each other more often. 👍

Because it’s friends like Zack that change your life for the better. I’m so glad he was by your side as you grew up. 😭

ily

~ Lu