You weren’t going to school right now because of “mental problems.” And to make me more comfortable in that potentially awkward moment, you assured me that you don’t share that with most people because, “I don’t want to make them uncomfortable.” It was an irony gray day. The grass was green. You looked at someone wiping the sweat from his brow over a lawnmower and said, “Sometimes I think we’d all be better off with astro turf.”
You felt “way bigger on the inside than I do on the outside.” We talked about what it’s like to feel comfortable in one’s own skin. “When we don’t,” you had come to terms with, “we should be open to talking about it” in the same way we would talk about “a sprain, the flu or an infection.” With your chin up and head tilted my way, you gave a nod to some other ways to talk about it: “I’m the singer in a band.” And there was a refrigerator-like poetry in the way you spelled this out for me.
Singing gave a voice to “the riot inside.”
Singing was a part of you you could hold onto when everything else about you seemed “hard to hold down.”
Singing was “like awareness.”
Singing was “a flashlight when you’re in a dark hole and you can’t see the rope.”
You sang one of your favorite lines from a song you were working on, and afterwards joked, “Don’t worry, we’re not in a hole,” and acknowledged, “You’re alright.” Fewer than you would think say what you said next, but you actually sang it, leaving me not only comfortable, but uplifted: “Thanks so much. I’ll look out for you.”