I don’t know how it started but from an early age I noticed that I was more comfortable hanging around with boys. I don’t mean that in any sexual way at all; I was too young to think about that. I was able to be more open with boys and could get dirty and play without feeling weird about it like when I was with the girls. This feeling never left me. But it did complicate my life a bit as I grew older and boys and girls playing together turned into a more complex situation. Regardless of said complications I always seem to be a one woman show in a group of boys. Some of the more cynical people will think that I just liked the attention that comes with being the only girl in a room of boys but that truly was never it. I just always felt like I could breath better around them. I found that they helped me build myself and become a whole person. The group itself changed and evolved few times as people just naturally come into and out of your life but to me they are all still collectively “my boys”. They have most directly made me who I am today; they are my soul.
The first group of “my boys” all lived in a neighborhood called Willowdale. There was Eric, Matt, Aaron, Mike and Seth. This started when I was in middle school and ended about my sophomore year of high school. They taught me how to have fun and how to stay close friends no matter what other drama was going on. They really were always there for me. Two main events stick out in my mind: My family returned home from vacation to find our house had been robbed while we were away. Every one of them called and checked on me, offered to give up their big “sleep under the stars” night and make sure I was ok. This may not sound like much but keep in mind these were middle school aged boys, not generally know for their selflessness. The other was one night while I was on my way home from a friend’s house my dad had gotten sick and had to be rushed to the hospital. They couldn’t wait for me to get home so they just went. Consequently I get home, find out what has happened and have to sit alone at the house terrified. Matt made his older brother drive him over to my house- with a Big Mac- just to cheer me up and hold my hand. These and many other memories of my time with them are so precious to me and still bring warmth to my heart.
The next set of “my boys” I met my sophomore year of high school one night at a party as my current boyfriend dumped me and left my friend and I without a ride home. The tallest guy I’d ever seen says, “We can take you home.” So I asked around about him and his friend and the general consensus was that they were good guys, so I leaped. They called themselves The Four Horsemen in homage to Notre Dame. I still can’t even type that without smiling. (They even had sweatshirts). Max, Alex, Rob and Chris become my constant companions, friends, protectors and the most important people in my life. Max and I each wore half of a ying-yang necklace. One year for Christmas I bought each of them an ID bracelet engraved with their nickname… I wonder if any of them remember that? I can’t possibly express how much I loved them or how much they impacted my life. As close as Max and I were though, Chris is the one that I wouldn’t be the same without. Truly, next to my father and my husband no living soul has played such an important role in helping me grow and making me who I am.
Then in college came Jared, James, Ryan, Steve and Tony. They were the artists who made me feel safe enough to explore expressing my self through my writing. They taught me the importance of being completely honest in my work and loving life, full force, arms wide open. They are the ones I feel I have most let down, the ones to whom I need to apologize. I let myself slip away and get lost when my father died. But it is because of them that I continue to force my self through this and find my way back to the artist within that they found and pulled out.
I have been lost and lonely a great deal lately. I struggle daily with my desire to write and my desire to hide away from the world. I feel unloved and unworthy of love because I know that I am no longer the girl all these wonderful boys once loved. I am ashamed; so I hide. But it is the memories of them and the way they loved me and touch my heart that guide me to what little strength I do have left to fight it. To tell myself that I am worthy and I can be who I want to be not the sad lonely abused little girl life has left behind. I will be the girl they loved again someday.