Submitted by Rea Hickox
My best friend is a boy of the name John Doe. He was not always a boy, nor was his last name always Doe but he is a very handsome boy and was a very ugly girl. His hair changes color too often to actually assign it a color, a tradition of which he has now indoctrinated me into. My hair, which was constantly bleached blonde for several years, went from purple to a highlighter-like pink, and will most likely soon be a lavender or perhaps a mix of both purple and pink. I wished so to dye it white, but John explained this would be almost impossible, especially given my real hair color is a muddy not-quite-blonde-not-quite-brown.
John and I bonded instantly and I am told by him this is quite strange.
Maybe people with similar trauma can just tell from the eyes. I like to think our eyes are broken a bit, from what we’ve lost. Our childhoods ended in close proximity. His at eight, mine at eleven.
I remember sitting next to him, on the chipped, hard gym bench on the first day of my senior year. I commented we were the disabled club. Him having a service dog and me having the fine and gross motor skills of a small child — my doctor’s words, not mine. I was eventually kicked out of the class for being “too disabled” as they stuck me in a small corner to do worksheets as I could not keep up with the other kids around me. I had to take online gym my second semester, which is just as pathetic as it sounds.
That year I happened to be a teacher’s aid for my beloved theatre teacher, my strongest confidant and the father who was actually there for me, in addition to taking the highest level theatre class.
There I found John to be in the class to my delight. We found we shared many other things other than a deteriorating mental state. We both enjoyed the art of dressing up as fictional characters and posting it to the world wide web, listened to music that our parents judged us for, were devout pagans, and suffered dyslexia, though we only suffered because of the neglect of the school system.
As time went on, we only grew closer and found out we were more and more alike, to the point where we joked we must be the same person from different timelines. “Twin flames,” John always says. “We’ve been causing chaos for millennia.” A common joke is that we were once Bonnie and Clyde, though we debate over who was who, saying maybe our current lives are punishment for our crimes all those years ago.
John ultimately proved to be one of the best things to happen to me.
When you have a mental illness you receive a lot of sympathy, but it’s an awful kind laced with pity. With John, it was his raw experiences, his honest opinion, no fluff or tuff.
Sometimes you just meet people, people who seem to capture your whole world and make it a better place, a more stable place. John gave me that and still does. Medicine can help with a lot of mental illness symptoms, but John’s friendship is a fixer-upper no pill could ever measure up to.
Rea Hickox is an 18-year-old college student at Michigan State University. She is studying International Relations and Psychology. She grew up in Dallas, TX, and attended Townview School of Science and Engineering High School, where she did theatre, yearbook, and debate. She currently is a writer, cosplayer, baker, and artist. She also suffers from depression, which she uses as inspiration for her writing.