This week: Thank Joe
I remember one birthday and that’s Cal’s. It’s probably because I gave birth to her (and it hurt a shitload), but it could also be because she’s my favorite small person. Those two things may be related. My favorite big person is Harv. I’m not writing that out of obligation, but if it furthers my cause of getting the complete set of Chevron toy cars for Christmas, then hey, I’m not going to fight it.
My friend Joe’s birthday was last week, and I forgot to wish him a Very Happy Birthday. Again.
I love Joe for so many reasons. He’s a good listener. He’s an awesome travel guide. He’s a ridiculously gifted Settlers of Catan opponent. And Joe made a difference in my life when I needed it most.
For years and years, I was addicted to drugs. At my very lowest point, I remember snorting one line of coke after another, challenging myself to see how much I could do before I passed out. I didn’t care if I died. I rationalized that everyone had to die at some point, and I’d much rather die from doing drugs than from anything else. I just….I just didn’t give a fuck.
That’s when I met Joe. I didn’t know quite what to make of him at first. Because I didn’t want to face the severity of my problems, I only kept company with fellow addicts. But Joe- he was good. He was normal. And I didn’t know how a normal, happy, functional person was supposed to fit into my life.
He wanted to do normal things. I’m not sure how I felt about that. Why were we going to eat frozen yogurt? There were drugs to be done! Alcohol to be imbibed!
Once, while we were chatting, I expressed an interest in learning to play chess. He taught me. Or, at least, he tried to teach me. We sat for hours, over multiple nights, as he explained the same rules over and over again. My concentration and memory were shot so we didn’t get far. But he never lost his patience, and he never once stood up and announced that I should stick with something a little less involved, like quarters.
On another frozen yogurt excursion, he casually handed me a packet of papers: information about drug addiction, resources in finding help, and questionnaires for assessing whether there was a problem or not. I laughed at the questionnaire. But later that night, I sat down with a pencil and filled it out. The whole thing. Page after page of difficult questions and answers. It was really the first time I could see in plain text how much trouble I was in.
The thing is, I didn’t quit right away. But it opened my eyes to a truth I wasn’t ready to see yet.
I don’t think Joe knows what a difference he made or how much I love him and thank him for it.
Happy Birthday, Joe. Thanks for being my friend.
Do you have a Joe in your life- someone’s who’s made a difference when you needed it most?
image via blueq.com