thank you for giving me that glittery pumpkin sticker that used to be on your school-issued laptop, but you took it off during musical practice (for reasons still unknown to me), then gently (albeit awkwardly) handed it to me with an easy smile on your face.
("do you want me to throw this away?"
"no. i want you to cherish it dearly."
i laughed while putting it in my pocket, muttering "i'll put it on my lanyard."
your laughter in that moment made me happy, so i smiled as well. my day felt better after musical practice because you know me well enough to fit your jokes into my abstract sense of humor, and your musical references and singing couldn't help but make me smile, regardless of how awful i felt.
i still have the rolled-up foam sticker sitting on my desk.)
thank you for letting me borrow your watermelon-colored stress ball when i needed it. when i went to your room seventh period the friday before veteran's day, edging on flat-out sobbing (or, alternatively, having a panic attack) in your room, but decidedly asking for a hug. i patiently waited, hands twined and clenched tightly like a woven basket made by a loving grandma, for the other student asking you a question to leave before telling you what happened.
("what's got you so tense?"
"can i have a hug first?"
"of course." and you stood up from your desk chair and wrapped me into a hug and i just wanted to cry into your shoulder and never leave because i was so shaken from what happened that i didn't want to go anywhere else because you were the only person able of comforting me and understanding what i was feeling and why it was affecting me so much.
[i explained what happened in light detail - light being every goddamn detail that i could remember and put into words because i was so flustered and panicked]
one of my friends peeked her head through the door, asked me if i was still going to the assembly. my anxiety spiked once more because what if it was loud, what if i had a panic attack and i became even more of a bother to everyone around me -
and i turned to you, and quietly asked if i could stay in your room even though i knew the answer.
you wanted to let me stay, but you didn't want to risk getting in trouble because student + teacher + alone in a room = you probably losing your job and me getting a stern talking to and a slap on the wrist, and i didn't want you to leave. i don't remember if i asked or you offered, but i ended up walking out of your room with that stress ball, and after the assembly, i came back and returned it to you without saying anything. your eighth-period class was already walking in, and i didn't want to bring any more attention to myself, so i dropped it on your desk and you said thank you, and i probably asked you if you wanted me to close your door before i left.
(thank you for continuing to let me borrow your stress ball, too. you never give me the basketball one, but i guess it's because i chose the watermelon stress ball over the basketball, and you remembered that so the watermelon is my default.)
thank you for tolerating me even though you bring out my excitable side, which means that i show my love through insults and gentle slaps on the arm or leg. and thank god you understand that i'm not trying to be an asshole, but i just lose my filter and my brain is wired to be awkward with compliments and be better at sarcastically insulting the people i love and respect.
("you can compliment me every once in a while, you know."
"no, it was just that one time, we've been over this."
you laughed, and i smiled awkwardly while gathering my things because i left my stuff in your room before you went to lunch and i went back to the art room, because there was a puffball game and you were the teacher in charge of hosting it (you got so angry after the whole thing was over and we were heading back to your room because "you would think that the coaches for the sport games would actually play and take part, but apparently not").
[the one time i complimented her was at musical practice, and i'd somehow gotten really close to her face and rather than realizing "oh, this is super awkward my bad i should pull away," i instead looked at her eyes and thought wow, her eyes are really pretty, and then we continued our conversation about gay men and theatre. also how she was surrounded by gay men as she grew up (read: theatre kid), and how she thought it was crazy how some people don't have a gay best friend.
she emphasized it being a male gay best friend, because we both agreed that there was a stark contrast between stereotypical lesbians and gay men.
later during practice, i walked up to her and told her that she had really pretty eyes, and after she said thank you i added that that was the only compliment i'd ever give her, so she should cherish the memory.
she laughed. we both knew that was a lie because i'd complimented her before once or twice in the past, off-handedly because being straight-forward with complimenting people i actually like a lot isn't my style.
and i like her a lot.]
thank you for being a dork, and liking me so much to the point that if you and i are in the same room and near each other, we look at each other when we laugh because that's a thing that people do unconsciously with the person they like the most in a specific group.
and we apparently like each other the most out of everyone at our school.
thank you for color-coding all of your things, and saying my favorite quote that i've ever head come out of a person's mouth ("for a straight person, i really do love rainbows"), even though i wished that you were at least bi so that i could have good lgbt representation at my tiny-ass school in the middle of a cornfield, ohio.
[i was organizing color-coded sticks for each of her english classes, not realizing that they were organized by the order of colors in the rainbow. i don't remember how it came to me bringing it up, but the surprise in her face, then the smug realization of "you didn't notice that they were in order like that?" and the laughter that followed made me forget the stupidity i felt for not realizing it immediately.
even her google drive has folders organized by color. her teacher planner is color-coded. she grades papers with certain pen colors (i might get her more pens for christmas) and if something is messed up she has to get white-out to fix it or it'll bother her a lot.
she's a dork.]
thank you for being patient with me and helping me with my anxiety when i myself don't know how to do deal with it at all, and understanding and not pushing me to do things i'm not comfortable with. thank you for helping me open up and not be in my shell as much as i used to, and thank you for being such a good friend.
("you don't know your dad's first name?"
"no! he goes by darrin - which i think is his middle name because when he signs papers he signs them as william -"
"so doesn't that answer your question?"
"no! because he has darrin on his varsity jacket at home and when i asked him about it he told me to mind my own business!"
[she laughed her genuine laugh at that one, the nasally, kind of intense laugh where i always think that she's going to eventually snort but she never has, and another student was in there and he was laughing at me too. i was flustered and embarrassed because i should know my dad's first name (his first name is william, by the way).]
after school that day, i asked my dad what his first name was and he said it was william. i sent a screenshot of those texts to her and i could only imagine that she either smiled or chuckled a little bit. i hope she did, at least.)
thank you for letting me lean into you at the puffball game in the gym after my friends left because they had early release and so they went to work or home, and when we saw a student on the opposite team of the boy seniors throw a puffball at cade (a complete dork jock boy who's very funny) and watch him just stand there as it barely missed him, we both laughed so hard. it felt so natural to just lean into you and hide my face in your shoulder as i laughed. and thank you for nudging me and leaning into me whenever you made a joke and laughed when i was standing next to you, because i'm a physical person but it always surprises people when i tell them flat-out, or they realize it just by being around me so much.
and thank you for letting me walk with you to your car before we left for thanksgiving break, and teasing me lightly when i said that the only reason why i was walking with her was to get a goodbye hug (which was a lie, because i didn't want to say goodbye. i hate saying goodbye, and even though i wouldn't see her for break, it felt like it would be forever. and i hated that. she's awful at replying to texts and she's a busy person because she's an adult and does adult stuff and i'm a high schooler who has too much free time).
i'm going to cry on graduation day because i know it'll be the last time i see you, at least for a while, but goddamn if i don't try to keep in touch with you and call you when i start going to college, and talk about all the cool shit i'm going to do as an environmental scientist trying their damndest to help the environment. and i'm going to seek you out after graduation because i'll need another (long) goodbye hug. i'll cry at the end of musical season, too, because you're co-director and i'm stage manager and you've teased me about how i only go to practices right now to hang out with you (and i'll never admit it out loud even though you're right).
maybe i'll fix the punctuation and clean this up and give it to you, because i know you'll appreciate something like this, even though it's really silly. but i'm grateful, and this is the easiest way to express it.
to the english teacher that could've been my best friend (had we been closer in age),
from the dorky senior that wishes you the best.