A few years ago, I was standing outside of YMCA entrance, with my friends Aaron and Brittany. We were there for a Thirty-Hour Famine with a group of neighborhood youth groups, to raise awareness and money for those who go to bed every night hungry while we routinely gorge ourselves. The weather was freezing, or at least to me. I love the hot and despise the cold, so while I found it extremely chilly and was bundled up with three coats waiting for them to open the doors to the building, other people were running around in the dark with short sleeves shirts.
I shivered again as the night’s air breezed passed me. I muttered, “It’s so cold!”
Brittany and Aaron turned around and stared at me.
“Are you serious?” Brittany asked.
“Yeah! It’s freezing out here. They need to hurry up.”
Aaron narrowed his eyes at me. “It’s not cold at all. It’s probably close to sixty degrees.”
“Whatever,” I muttered, looking around in horror at the hundreds of kids around me in shorts and tank tops. “It’s cold.”
Aaron looked at someone behind me and called, “Josh! Hey, Josh! Is it cold out here?”
“No,” called a voice near my ear. “Why?”
I turned around and right behind me was boy in a Ramones t-shirt and brown Converse high-tops. He stared at me as my teeth chattered loudly together and another shiver rippled through me. “Oh.”
Brittany smiled. “Crazy here thinks it’s freezing.”
“It’s not cold out here,” Josh asserted, raising an eyebrow. “Please tell me you aren’t on drugs”
I glared up at him. “No, I’m not on drugs! It really is cold!”
Josh looked at me and burst out laughing. They unlocked the doors and he came in and sat with Aaron, Brittany, and me. Josh fit right in. He was open, quirky, and had a great taste in music. It turned out he was one of Aaron’s friends from school. They all teased me all night and we spent our thirty hours in animated chatter and hysterical laughter.
That was how I met my best friend. He made me laugh and smile and sing and dance. One day, though, I heard him talking to one of his friends, who had never really liked me.
“You still talk to that chick?”
“Uh, yeah.” Josh shuffled a little. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Dude, she’s weird and annoying and she never stops talking…”
Josh smiled. “Yeah, but she makes me laugh when she talks. I love her.”
The story is lame, but that’s not the point. I met a best friend and he turned out to be more than I could have asked for. He defended me and liked me even as I was. I believe that the most important thing you can do is surround yourself with people that you love, just as they are, and that love you the same way. I think that’s what life’s about.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.