D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

32.

Today I went to visit and pick up our friend who stays with us once a month—an older teenager who has survived more than I could ever imagine, and who still maintains such a . . . teenagerness about them. She got a job and was working and I went to visit her and embarrass her like a true friend would but instead she turned around and broke into a huge smile and gave me a bear hug. The girl who very reluctantly answers my questions, who slowly peels the earbuds out of her ears at the table when I ask her to, the girl who is always rolling her eyes and making fun of me. She hugged me, right in the middle of the store where she is working right now, trying to save up for whatever this next season of her life will look like. I held up a 50% off bag of dahlia bulbs I was going to buy, showing off my bounty. “Why are you buying those?” she asked me. “You’ll just kill them like you have killed all of your other plants.” I just smiled, and together we walked out to my car in the rain. Sometimes it feels like my whole life is about trying to accept the gift of right of being honest with ourselves and each other, of accepting the reality of actually being in relationship with people who are very different from us. Of accepting the truth from a teenager whose keen eyes see everything, including the wilting plants scattered around our tired and lovely house.

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