I think people are like chocolate Easter Bunnies. It’s like when you buy one, expecting it to be solid all the way through, but after you take a bite, you discover the entire thing is hollow. I don’t believe everyone is like that; but I do believe that some people have a harder time finding their core than others. I cannot say if some of us are just born luckier, already knowing who we are from the inside out, or if it depends on the experiences of our childhood and lives. Is it our actions that shape us, and create who we are, or does who we are at our core shape the entirety of ourselves? Why are some of us lucky and some of us not?
I met my best friend the second week of freshman year. We ended up choosing each other as roommates before we knew more than each other’s first names. She taught me a lot in the year we spent together; while our four year age gap was relatively miniscule, our life experiences were near opposites. Where I had grown up in the Mormon suburbs of Boise (even after my father had came out of the closet and we subsequently stopped going to church), she spent her childhood growing up too quickly in a Nampa home. Sometime while we were sharing a cell block sized dorm room, she told me something that has stuck in the back of my mind ever since. I cannot remember where we were or what we were doing at the time; perhaps we were smoking cigarettes in the parking lot behind our dorm building, shivering in the cold and huddling closer. Perhaps we were drunkenly walking through our hall, trying to find our way back to our room after a party, the smell of cheap beer and cheaper cologne stuck in our noses. Maybe it was a sleepless night, both of us tossing and turning in our industrial bunk bed, until we give up on sleep and decide to talk instead. “I don’t think everyone in the world has souls. I suspect there were only a certain amount of souls in the first place, and then there were just too many babies born to keep up. Haven’t you ever met a person who feels like they’re completely empty on the inside?”
It’s been several years now since she and I spent every day together in a fifteen square foot dorm room, but I catch myself thinking about that at random times of the day. Sometimes, it is while I am crossing a busy seattle street, staring into the abyss of strangers going about their day to day business. Often, it is when I think about my best friend. She is the opposite of soulless. Quite frankly, I think she has gallons more soul than I do. It bleeds out of her, touches the people around her. It shows in her kindness and in her anger.
She is the strongest person I know. There are nights where I worry I cannot keep up; speeding down the I-84, too drunk to properly navigate . The wind is blowing and I can feel my soul slipping through my fingers. I let it go, trying instead to catch hers, pouring out of her red hair and into the passing wind. Loving people is trying to protect them, as much as you can. But maybe there is freedom in the unknowable, the soul-lost and soulless.
It has been years since that night, and slowly with time, I’ve felt myself creep back into my own skin. I used to feel as if my soul floated somewhere above the top of my head, just out of reach. Like I didn’t fit in my own skin. I don’t know if I’ve grown to reach my soul, or if my soul finally decided to touch down to earth. All I know is if it wasn’t for the ride-and-die pixie girl I decided to room with, I don’t know if I would have gotten it back.