I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, about positivity, about being positive and staying positive and doing and thinking positive things. It’s been a journey, a real journey, deep within, I’m accessing like universal things here, about humanity, about positivity, words like oneness and the universe and consciousness. It’s a real spiritual awakening here, and so it came to me, not really like an epiphany, because it wasn’t just one thing, but a lot of epiphanies, not little epiphanies, but big epiphanies, one after the other, and so everything’s constantly changing.
And so I thought about Andre. We kept butting heads, reaching out, pulling back, ultimately it got to the point where we lost all contact with each other. Our friendship was all but destroyed, almost like it never existed in the first place. But it did exist, I think, and so as I continued deeper and deeper on my spiritual cosmic journey of universal self-discovery, I felt like there was something holding me back, preventing me from achieving that real oneness. It was Andre.
I resolved to make things right between us, to absolve the stain from our shared history, make true amends. I sent him a friend request on Facebook. I was the one who severed that digital tie months ago. We had this botched fishing trip and when I got home I removed him from my friend list that night.
But a day passed. And then another day. And Andre didn’t accept. I sent him a text message, “Yo, u get my friend request?” with no response. I tried clicking on his profile, but only very limited information was available to non-friends. So I asked our shared friends, a group that, to be honest, I’d kind of lost touch with over the past year. I really just stopped taking most phone calls from those guys. I didn’t want it to be weird, if the both of us showed up, Andre and me, ruining everybody else’s good time.
My friend Tony filled me in, told me that Andre joined the Air Force, that he left like six months ago. They had a big party, this huge send off. Was I even invited? I could feel my grip on the positivity starting to slip. “But hey,” Tony told me, “He’s coming back earlier than expected. He got wounded, and so he had to be discharged. We’re all having a huge welcome home party this Thursday. You should come. Nobody’s seen you in forever.”
I felt like a huge dick, like I’d alienated all of my friends, like I’ve been spending so much time on my positivity training that I had totally lost touch with everybody. And yeah, I wasn’t on speaking terms with Andre, but I would have come to his send off. Come on, they should have reached out; I would have been there for him.
I showed up on Thursday and everybody was huddled around this one stool by the bar. I only saw the top of Andre’s head because he was sitting down. All of these crazy thoughts went through my head, like what were the extent of Andre’s injuries? Did he have all of his limbs? Would he still recognize me?
But then he got up off the stool, like stood up by himself, and he turned around to order another drink. That’s when we made eye contact. I went up to him, I told him, “Hey man, sorry it’s been so long. I sent you a Facebook friend request.”
“Thanks man,” he said. That was it, which was good, because normally he’d say something like, “That’s big of you,” and whatever, we’ve always, or I’ve always had this who’s-the-bigger-person complex, but it’s all silly, it doesn’t matter. This guy’s a vet now, he’s totally the bigger person.
And so I threw in a, “Thanks for your service Andre,” and he kind of shrugged, “You know, just trying to do my part,” and he just sort of looked down at his shoes. “So what happened?” I asked, “Why’d you get sent home?” and he looked up and said, “My injury.” I was like, “Yeah, is it bad? Did you get wounded in a conflict?”
He shook his head, “No, I was just getting all of this back pain during training, so before we got shipped out, they sent me home.” Just then our friend Hank, he shouted out to the whole bar, “Hey let’s welcome back our good friend Andre, a real American hero!” and everybody started cheering. Andre did a casual salute to the bar and everyone went nuts.
“So,” I tried to bring him back to our conversation, “you never even really went?” “No, I went, I just, you know, I’m injured.”
“Three cheers for Andre!”
“Hip hip, hooray!”
And I felt myself drifting slightly from my spiritual center, and I was about to say something, I had that look on my face, like, are you serious? And you’re going to stand here and take this hero’s welcome? I didn’t say it, but I didn’t have to, because, like I said, I was making that kind of weird skeptical face.
“Well what about the friend request? Are you going to accept it?” and he said, “OK, sure,” and he took out his phone right there and accepted it, but when he exited the Facebook app, right before he put his phone away, I looked toward his text message notifications, and I wanted to check his messages, to see if he ignored that text message I sent him, so I said, “Do you mind if I borrow your phone for a second?” and he just said, “What? Uh, hold on, I have to go to the bathroom,” and when he came back he didn’t mention the phone thing, didn’t mention the text message.
The rest of the night went by without incident. When I got home, I went onto Facebook and Andre was back on my news feed. He wrote, “Glad to be home! Thanks everybody for coming out! War is hell!” and like three of our friends responded, stuff like, “USA! USA! USA!”