It is amazing how fast things go out of style. I was one of those things. That summer before my senor year I spent a month living with a family down in Monterrey, Mexico. I taught English, guitar, and bible classes twice a day every day at a small church, made some awesome friends, and learned a ton about myself, realizing what I really valued in life. By the time I got back, the social scene thought of me as old news, my "friends" didn't even care about me anymore, and though I probably could have gotten back in with the "cool" crowd if I had really worked at it, their parties and drinking and crazy escapades no longer appealed to me. I found myself suddenly very alone.
He approached me first. I guess he had some understanding of social workings, because he knew I was lonely, friendless, and feeling guilty about abandoning my true friends the year before.
"I, I guess, cah-can we, can we be freh-friends again?" They were the first sincere words anyone had spoken to me that whole first month of school.
"You, you don't hah-have to say yeh-yes," he said, watching my face for some reaction.
"Thanks Geoff. Look, I'm sorry about, well, not really being a good friend to you this past year. I was just being a block head, more worried about being popular than about making true friends." I suddenly felt like I was the one with a mental disability. At least he knew what really mattered.
"It's gah-good to have, good to have you bah-back on bah-board mate," he said sheepishly.
And it was good to be back on board. I started spending more time with Geoff and a couple other clearly "not-cool" kids, and I loved it. Sure the lunches were sometimes more awkward, with unnatural pauses as none of them really knew how to make small talk, but when we had conversations they were real. We opened up about the issues going on in our lives, and we were able to be honest with each other, not worrying about being judged. That is, all of us opened up except Geoff. He never told us about his past, about his home life, about anything like that. As they year dragged on I became increasingly curious, but I didn't want to push him.
It was about two months before graduation when Geoff's last defenses finally broke down. I was driving him home (I did so every Wednesday), and having a nice light chat. When I pulled up into the driveway, I saw a sold sign out front. I asked him about it, and immediately he shrank away from my question as if it was an accusation. But I persisted, asking him when he was moving, where he was going, why they were moving only two months before graduation. Finally he just started to sob, and his words poured out like waterfall, all stumbling into each other and mixed in with the tears and sniffles, but fast and constant.
I could just transcribe what he actually said and leave you to try and decipher it out for yourself, but since I, having had years to learn his speech oddities, still struggled to understand him, I don't think that would be very productive. Basically, he told me about how his father had sexually abuse him and his mother when he was a child, until finally his mom told the police and the abusive father was put behind bars. Now, ten years later, the father had just gotten let out of jail and had come with his friends, broken into their house, and raped Geoff and his mother. The police couldn't find them anywhere. One afternoon, they got home to find that the house had been broken into again, so Geoff's mother decided they had to move away. They would be going somewhere out of town to go live with his mom's boyfriend, but he didn't know where. He would have to change schools, and because he wouldn't be finishing his classes here he wouldn't be able to graduate until next year. I asked him if he wanted to move away, and he said no, but he couldn't stay here or his dad would find him again.
That night, after talking to my parents, I called up Geoff's house. I thought I would have to convince his mother, but she was elated. The next day, Geoff moved in with me.
Of course it's not convenient. We have one more mouth to cook for, one more shower to fit in every morning, on more set of dishes to clean, and all that. He doesn't drive, so I have to give him rides everywhere. He doesn't close anything, whether its the shampoo bottle, the toilet seat, or the kitchen drawers. He loses every comb he uses somewhere in the house. Yet nonetheless, I have never been happier. I have a new brother, and we will be graduating together in a couple of weeks. We hang out all the time, playing video games, chilling down at the park, going hiking, or just watching TV and chatting. He has been getting so much better. I found an acne medication that works well for him, and some lotion for his dry and peeling hands. The sun and exercise we get together has made him look so much more healthy, and this has in turn made him more confident. I have him sing along to the songs on the radio whenever we are in the car so as to work on his speaking difficulties, and it really has been helping. Now I know what true joy really is for me: showing others the love and care that every person deserves.