This I Believe

Gregory - Bellows Falls, Vermont
Entered on June 13, 2007

I believe that inspiration is vicious and infectious. I believe that words of wisdom are a clouded lining that people take away from the silver screen.

When my former best friend got nailed by a drunk driver while pulling out of a Wal-Mart parking lot, my former first love asked me to drive her to the hospital. I must have been the last person she wanted to ask, but when called upon I did not hesitate, chained by that word ‘should’ to the steering wheel and the awkward silence as we headed across town.

I had her and lost her so quickly, I never got a chance to have the near-violent fights that drove her from my best friend to me in the first place. I’d never gone through the high-school romance thing, so when the sucker punch came I wasn’t ready for that kind of pain.

I bled – figuratively – for a while, and when the literal bleeding came, she was the one who found me with the Cutco knife sticking out of the floor, and the red marks that didn’t hurt so much as itch. The first words out of her mouth were, ‘How could you do this to me?’ Of course, I felt properly chastised.

So there we were, cruising through an ugly pretty town. Hanging in the air like rancid smoke were the peep shows and kisses she gave me after she left me, the mass quantities of Keystone Light I’d started drinking on a regular basis, and my red itch that was coming back with a vengeance. I felt the need to speak.

‘I’m glad,’ I said. ‘I’m glad I didn’t wish this on him. I can’t imagine how I would feel if I had.’ Her look of shock and incomprehension taught me a few things.

I believe that honesty is a double-edged sword with no hilt. I believe that preferring to deserve and not have rather than have and not deserve is the very definition of naivete. I believe that the weight of integrity can crush and destroy the best parts of people and leave them broken and useless.

Most of all, I believe that those who walk that path shouldn’t have to walk it alone, but often do. It is for these people, whom I have never met, that I continue to walk. For the people who think not helping is not an option, for the unrewarded, the cold, bitter cynics who still give to the United Way every week, for these people I will continue even without hope until the very end, when I will probably be forgotten.