I think if most people were asked “who’s your hero?,” the responses would vary from the bizarre to the humorous to the touching. For all the superhero underoos I went through as child, I would never consider any of them my hero. For me, the person who most comes to mind when I say the word “hero,” is my best friend, BFH.
I met my best friend when I was fifteen in high school. I was somewhat standoffish and had few friends, having come through the years dealing with mostly the superficially and perpetually popular wannabes. I had a very disgruntled view of most people and didn’t really think they had anything going for them beneath a very shallow surface. After getting burned one too many times, I was ready to write off the masses. I was the kid with dyed hair and combat boots… in the South. Not many people wanted to deal with me either.
BFH and I had homeroom together as our last names were in the same portion of the alphabet. We also had a common classmate, Steve, also in our homeroom. For the most part, BFH and I did not interact with one another, but we did interact with Steve. BFH was metal, I was indie. We just didn’t have a lot to talk about. We came to find out later that both of us were well aware that Steve was gay and was having a hard time admitting it to even himself. So we both politely ignored it and let him pretend all he needed.
At first, conversations with BFH were mostly about Steve (when he was absent… which was often) and speculating when he would finally accept himself, hoping that he didn’t become suicidal because of it and wondering if his family would be supportive. BFH has known Steve longer than I, and had better insight on it. Over time, our conversations morphed about people, life, relationships, love, existentialism, extrasensory, the future of the universe, drugs, the seen and unseen, music, past hurts, current irritations, current crushes and all the things most important to a teenager. I still amazes me today that either one of us could shoot out three pages of front and back written material to one another, but those are the days of the written word and we only had homeroom as a common class.
The moment I would say BFH moved from acquaintance to best friend would be the moment when one of us told Steve to move out of the way because we wanted to talk to the other. At this point, I’m not entirely sure who said it. BFH thinks it was them, I think it was me. It matters little at this point.
BFH was going through the aftermath of the ending of a close friendship that had been betrayed, so it was a gradual sussing of one another. Kind of “you seem like you’re on my page, but I’m a pessimist, so I’m doubtful.” I didn’t find out until later what happened in BFH’s case, but ironically felt empathy for the lost friend over time. Why? Well…
Over the years, I came to notice it. Many times my invites to hang out or go somewhere were refused. I was very emphatically told I was never to call BFH except for a specific set of hours and only those hours, it was preferred that BFH call me. There was more than once when BFH would come to school with very distinguishable fingermarks around their neck. There would be distinct impressions of where the nails had been buried. Tender places on the back of the head, the shoulders, etc that were only noticed when something, anything, brushed against them. I came to understand it was their dad behind it.
I also came to understand the fierce love and defensiveness BFH had for their father, at the same time marbled with anger towards him. The friend who had betrayed BFH had done what every single afterschool special tells a person to do when they see abuse… tell an authority figure, report it, drag it out in the open… they will thank you… right. It had created a big fat mess, BFH denied anything ever happened and it finally went away. BFH cast their friend out of their life and I’m sure, to this day, probably harbors some anger toward them still.
The problem being is that no one ever asks… what happens after? Kids love their parents, and this parent was the sole support of his family. What the hell did that benefit? Yes, it royally sucked and I wanted it to stop too, but how can anyone not see that this would be tearing a family apart from bad thing to a different series of other bad things.
Meeting him and being around him, I wanted to hate him. Many times I wanted to come across the table and choke the shit out of him. I would look at him and wonder, what do you hate or fear about BFH so much that they are your target and their two siblings are not? Do you really not notice they get good grades, they don’t do drugs, they actually love and respect you quite a lot and you treat them like this? I have never forgiven the pain he inflicted on those he proclaimed to love. I don’t see how I ever will. I am still in awe of the fact BFH has, but sometimes I worry there might be self-blame and worry there too.
I will also never forgive myself for one of the rare times when BFH was allowed to hang out with me and I ran out of gas heading back to their house to drop them off. We were broke teenagers, so $5 a stop was the norm and the gauge was a bit iffy on that old car. A cop stopped to help us out, and I hysterically begged him to take my friend home and explain because I would have no credibility if I did. I was belligerent about getting them home, I didn’t give a shit about the car, I’d deal with it later. They were due home in three minutes.
We would have been five minutes early had nothing happened, they were five minutes late when the cop finally got to their house. I had stayed with the car and sent my friend with the officer. The cop was immediately told to shut up and get the fuck out. Every single bruise BFH tried to hide the next day weighs on my conscious even now.
I had a long conversation with Grand that night as well. I didn’t give any details, but my seriousness at least came across. I would never report it, I would never do anything to tear that family up, but I could provide an escape route and Grand gave me the permission to do that. I don’t know if that gave BFH any relief to know the option was there, I hope it did, even if they never used it. I think Grand even once told BFH directly that even if I wasn’t there, they were still welcome anytime for as long as they wanted. If you can’t tell, our families liked one another maybe as much as we liked one another’s families.
As we got older, things with Grand were escalating to a point where being in the same house just was not good so I went to college in the bigger city just down the road and moved into the dorms. BFH stayed in our hometown and went to the local college to save some money by living at home. At the time, BFH was in a relationship with someone who used to trawl my old neighborhood with the area scum and generally sold drugs, did drugs, slept with anything and everything and was basically a 24k piece of shit.
I… am so not good about keeping my mouth shut about what I think. BFH and I butted heads a lot about the Walking VD. I made one last effort to really try to get along with it, but I just couldn’t. All I could see is BFH catching something at best or dead at worst, if they continued to stay with this person. Our conversations started becoming very edited during this time.
I ran off to Europe for a month, came back and within a few months got engaged. BFH was of course my bestie and I remember enjoying the night before my wedding better than any day after it, we just let it all flow out pretty much the entire night. Over the course of the next five years, my contact with the outside world became minimal, then after moving out west… nonexistent.
When I finally broke out of the cage and left my ex, BFH was the first person I contacted. They weren’t surprised I left my ex… actually, nothing I’ve ever done has ever surprised BFH really, even when it surprises me. They predicted I would be the first to marry… when we were sophomores, back when I was adamant that I would never marry or have kids because people suck.
BFH had moved… really moved, like way the fuck out of our home state moved. Apparently, not long after I moved out west, BFH had simply had their breaking point with the Walking VD and their dad and said fuck it, fuck you, I’m out.
With nothing more than car and clothes and a little help from our other common element G-uno, they had rebuilt their life, bought a house, finished college, paid it off, traveled overseas… multiple times and just washed their hands of all the bullshit. I was so in awe, I couldn’t help but tear up as they filled in the gaps of missed time with their doings. I was so happy for and proud of them for being able to do everything they did after all the shit they’d been through.
As humble as BFH was trying to make their accomplishments, I only saw their immense strength. Their love and anger towards their father, their knowledge of their similarities to their father, their fear of being anything like that and their absolute zero tolerance in putting up with it again all contribute to this immense person who has always been an old soul, could see through most people’s bullshit, has an eerily predictive nature, secret hopes for the happily ever after no matter how much proclaim otherwise, sports a mean fucking right hook, has stellar skills in the kitchen, loved to dirt-bike in spite of their personal OCD and aversion to outdoors, has an immense openness about the world veiled behind a curtain of cynicism and who has protective devotion and love for those important in their lives that would rival the mountains themselves in their unyielding nature when pressured.
There isn’t a superhero yet that measures up to my hero.