30. A Friend, Indeed!

30. A Friend, Indeed!

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Happily Ever After

A Friend, Indeed!

“Mom... it’s over!” I wailed into the telephone. After being wined and dined for two years, I’d been dropped like a hot potato. My first heartbreak.

In the following days, tears gave way to a blank sadness and the bitter taste of betrayal. By Wednesday evening, I was lying on the living room floor curled in a ball, trying to ease an inner pain that would not cease. Then I heard a voice in the distance.

“Julia... come on... get up! Get dressed! We’re going out.”

I looked up with glazed eyes, dazedly recognizing my old friend Alex, whom (guiltily, I realized) I had not made much time for during the past couple of years.

“No,” I muttered with self-pity. “I’m not going anywhere.”

I felt myself elevated by strong, sturdy arms and gently placed on my feet. “Get dressed, Jules,” he repeated. “I’ll wait right here until you’re ready.”

Thus began the healing process. Through Alex, I reunited with friends I had somehow drifted away from through the years. He appeared at my doorstep each evening with a new agenda for the night, gently prying me from my misery as our mutual respect and quiet love for each other grew in friendship.

After a particularly difficult day, he took me to a lively café. Drowning my sorrows in a frothy latte, I blurted, “Alex, will I ever meet the right guy?”

His deep brown eyes danced with laughter. “Jules, one thing I can promise you — someday, I’ll be dancing at your wedding.”

I gazed at my trusty, dependable friend. Taking in his broad stance, olive complexion and endearingly familiar smile, I tried to picture Alex waltzing with his date at my wedding. But I couldn’t. Something didn’t seem quite right. I resolved that this could only mean one thing — I might be destined to never get married. With a sigh, I turned my attention back to the latte.

As the years passed, I decided to concentrate on my career as an artist rather than on my downfalls with men. Alex was there to share my disappointments and successes, no matter how large or small. He helped me recover from the likes of Brad, Lou and John — although failed relationships no longer shocked my system.

I occasionally shot him an earful of advice on the ladies and suffered only mild pangs of jealousy toward the women in his life. But it wasn’t until Dan that I truly opened my eyes.

Dan. He was thrilling, exciting, handsome — and famous, too. What more could a girl want? Our dates consisted of exclusive shows and private parties, a fantasy come to life. So why did I find myself comparing him to Alex?

In fact, I realized most of the men I’d dated couldn’t hold a candle to Alex’s kindness. None had his sense of humor or rich, hearty laugh. None had his overwhelming compassion and genuine optimism. None had the qualities I had taken so for granted in Alex.

So, when Dan left me behind to go on tour, I didn’t feel disposed of like the crumpled, used tissue I thought I’d be. I had Alex and that was what mattered.

One summer night, to celebrate our “thirteen years of friendship,” Alex invited me to dinner at a quiet Italian restaurant in the city. Afterwards, we cruised around town with the car’s top down. I laughed happily at the sheer joy of the evening, loving the freedom of wind tumbling my hair and the comfort of Alex beside me.

On a whim, he parked the car near the harbor.

“I know it’s getting late,” he said. “But it’s too beautiful for the night to end.”

“It is gorgeous out tonight,” I agreed, taking his hand as I climbed from the car. We strolled along serenely, oblivious to the world, until Alex stopped suddenly.

“What is it?”

“Look,” he pointed. “We’re right beneath the CN Tower.”

The massive grand structure — landmarking Toronto’s skyline — was directly in front of us. I had lived with the majestic view of this building all my life, but I had never seen its towering frame silhouetted against a blazing moon. Judging by the look on Alex’s glowing face, he hadn’t either.

Then, all at once, I realized it wasn’t the tower but me he was looking at.

“Alex,” I began shyly, not knowing how to respond to this new feeling. “Do you find it… odd... that I didn’t notice the tallest freestanding structure in the world? Especially since we’re standing right beneath it?”

“No, actually... not odd at all,” he drew me closer. “Because when I’m with you, the world seems to disappear.”

The moment his lips touched mine, breathless yearning and passion laced the deepest love I could ever imagine and poured from his heart to mine. It only took one kiss to change my life. One kiss to see what had been right before my eyes, right beside me all along.

“Julia,” he whispered. “I am so in love with you!”

“I love you, too, Alex. So much. And I think maybe I always have.”

“Well,” he smiled. “I need to clarify one thing, though.”

“What’s that?”

“Remember the promise I made a few years ago... to dance at your wedding?”

“Uh-huh.”

“I lied.” He broke into a big grin. “I should have told you I plan to dance at our wedding.”

 

~Sylvia Suriano
Chicken Soup for the Bride’s Soul

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